SES­SIONS

The Columbus Dispatch - - Na­tion&world -

in plead­ing guilty to ly­ing to FBI agents, has ad­mit­ted that he told Trump and other cam­paign of­fi­cials, in­clud­ing Ses­sions, that he had con­tacts who could help ar­range a meet­ing be­tween Trump and Putin.

“I do now re­call the March 2016 meet­ing at Trump ho­tel that Mr. Pa­padopou­los at­tended, but I have no clear rec­ol­lec­tion of the de­tails of what he said at that meet­ing,” Ses­sions said. “Af­ter read­ing his ac­count, and to the best of my rec­ol­lec­tion, 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, 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.”

Ses­sions clar­i­fied later that he re­called Pa­padopou­los mak­ing “some com­ment” about a TrumpPutin meet­ing, and he “pushed back.”

Also at Tues­day’s hear­ing, Ses­sions said the Jus­tice Depart­ment would need a “fac­tual ba­sis” to ap­point a sec­ond spe­cial coun­sel to in­ves­ti­gate a host of GOP con­cerns — and he re­jected the sugges­tion by Rep. Jim Jor­dan, R-Ohio, that such a ba­sis al­ready ex­isted.

Re­pub­li­cans have pressed Ses­sions to launch probes on a va­ri­ety of mat­ters — in­clud­ing al­leged wrong­do­ing by the Clin­ton Foun­da­tion and the sale of a ura­nium com­pany to Rus­sia — and on Mon­day, the Jus­tice Depart­ment sent a let­ter to House Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee Chair­man Bob Good­latte, R-Va., say­ing that Ses­sions had di­rected se­nior fed­eral pros­e­cu­tors to ex­plore at least some of them. They were to re­port back to him and his top deputy on whether any ne­ces­si­tated the ap­point­ment of a sec­ond spe­cial coun­sel.

“What’s it gonna take to get a spe­cial coun­sel?” Jor­dan asked on Tues­day. Near the end of a testy ex­change, Ses­sions said, “‘Looks like’ is not enough ba­sis to ap­point a spe­cial coun­sel.”

Ses­sions said he would ap­point a spe­cial coun­sel if the cir­cum­stances called for it and re­ject the idea if not.

Rep. John Cony­ers, D- Mich., sought to high­light that Trump has pub­licly pressed the Jus­tice Depart­ment to in­ves­ti­gate Clin­ton- re­lated mat­ters, not­ing, “What strikes me about these com­ments is the pres­i­dent’s view that the crim­i­nal jus­tice sys­tem serves him, and not the pub­lic.”

Ses­sions, though, said, “I have not been im­prop­erly in­flu­enced and would not be im­prop­erly in­flu­enced.”

In re­cent weeks, un­sealed court doc­u­ments have called into ques­tion the at­tor­ney gen­eral’s pre­vi­ous tes­ti­mony about his in­ter­ac­tions with Rus­sians and his knowl­edge of oth­ers’ in­ter­ac­tions.

At his con­fir­ma­tion hear­ing to be at­tor­ney gen­eral, Ses­sions said he “did not have com­mu­ni­ca­tions with the Rus­sians” dur­ing the cam­paign. When The Wash­ing­ton Post later re­vealed he had twice spo­ken with Rus­sia’s am­bas­sador to the United States, he re­vised his ac­count, say­ing he had no meet­ings with Rus­sians “to dis­cuss is­sues of the cam­paign.”

The Post later re­ported that Rus­sia’s U. S. am­bas­sador told his su­pe­ri­ors that he and Ses­sions dis­cussed cam­paign- re­lated mat­ters. And at an Oc­to­ber ap­pear­ance be­fore the Se­nate Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee, Ses­sions seemed to shift his po­si­tion again. That time, he said he con­ducted no “im­proper dis­cus­sions with Rus­sians at any time re­gard­ing a cam­paign or any other item fac­ing this coun­try,” al­though he ac­knowl­edged it was pos­si­ble in one of his con­ver­sa­tions that “some com­ment was made about what Trump’s po­si­tions were.”

Trump cam­paign ad­viser Carter Page also tes­ti­fied be­fore the House In­tel­li­gence Com­mit­tee re­cently that he told Ses­sions of his plans to travel to Moscow. Page has said the in­ter­ac­tion was brief and for­get­table and that his trip was un­con­nected to his cam­paign work. Ses­sions said he didn’t re­call the con­ver­sa­tion but was “not able to dis­pute it.”

[ALEX BRAN­DON/THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS]

Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee Chair­man Bob Good­latte, R-Va., is in­ter­ested in Jeff Ses­sions’ Jus­tice Depart­ment in­ves­ti­gat­ing var­i­ous mat­ters re­lat­ing to for­mer Demo­cratic pres­i­den­tial can­di­date Hil­lary Clin­ton.

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