Ses­sions de­nies ly­ing on Rus­sia, hazy mem­ory

Porterville Recorder - - FRONT PAGE - By ERIC TUCKER and SADIE GURMAN

WASH­ING­TON — At­tor­ney Gen­eral Jeff Ses­sions on Tues­day dis­played a hazy mem­ory of the Trump cam­paign’s dis­cus­sions about and deal­ings with Rus­sians in the 2016 elec­tion, deny­ing he ever lied to Congress about those con­tacts but blam­ing the chaos of the race for fog­ging his rec­ol­lec­tions.

Dur­ing more than five hours of tes­ti­mony to Congress, Ses­sions sought to ex­plain away ap­par­ent con­tra­dic­tions in his ear­lier ac­counts by cit­ing the ex­haust­ing na­ture of Don­ald Trump’s up­start but surg­ing bid for the White House. He also de­nied un­der re­peated ques­tion­ing from Democrats that he had been in­flu­enced by Trump.

But af­ter say­ing un­der oath months ago that he was un­aware of any re­la­tion­ship be­tween the cam­paign and Rus­sia, Ses­sions ac­knowl­edged for the first time that the ar­rest of a low-level cam­paign ad­viser re­minded him af­ter all of a meet­ing at which the aide, Ge­orge Pa­padopou­los, pro­posed set­ting up a get-to­gether be­tween Trump and Rus­sian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin.

“Af­ter read­ing his ac­count and to the best of my rec­ol­lec­tion,” Ses­sions told the House Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee, “I be­lieve that I wanted to make clear to him that he was not au­tho­rized to rep­re­sent the cam­paign with the Rus­sian gov­ern­ment or any other for­eign gov­ern­ment for that mat­ter.

“But I did not re­call this event, which oc­curred 18 months be­fore my tes­ti­mony of a few weeks ago,” he added, “and I would gladly have re­ported it had I re­mem­bered it be­cause I pushed back against

his sug­ges­tion that I thought may have been im­proper.”

Pa­padopou­los was ar­rested by the FBI and pleaded guilty last month to ly­ing to au­thor­i­ties about his own for­eign con­tacts dur­ing the cam­paign. That guilty plea came in a wide-rang­ing crim­i­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tion led by for­mer FBI Di­rec­tor

Robert Mueller, who as the Jus­tice Depart­ment’s special coun­sel is look­ing into whether the Trump cam­paign co­or­di­nated with Rus­sia to sway the out­come of the 2016 pres­i­den­tial elec­tion and into whether the fir­ing of James Comey as FBI di­rec­tor was an ef­fort to ob­struct jus­tice.

Dur­ing the Trump

cam­paign, Ses­sions, then an Alabama sen­a­tor, led a cam­paign for­eign pol­icy ad­vi­sory coun­cil on which Pa­padopolous served. The at­tor­ney gen­eral has strug­gled since Jan­uary to move past ques­tions about his own for­eign con­tacts and about his knowl­edge of Rus­sian out­reach ef­forts dur­ing the elec­tion ef­fort.

AP PHOTO BY CAROLYN KASTER

At­tor­ney Gen­eral Jeff Ses­sions, right, looks to a mon­i­tor dis­play­ing pre­vi­ous ques­tion­ing by Sen. Al Franken, D-minn., from Ses­sions’ con­fir­ma­tion hear­ing on Jan. 10 dur­ing a House Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee hear­ing on Capi­tol Hill, Tues­day in Wash­ing­ton.

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