Jeff Sessions deflects Russia lies with ‘I don’t recall’ to avoid perjury
The U.S. attorney general attempts to downplay meetings with Russians after previous denials they ever happened
On Tuesday, Attorney General Jeff Sessions testified before the House judiciary committee about what he knew about the Russian interference in the election, and throughout his testimony, he repeatedly fell back on the words “I don’t recall.”
Sessions faced tough questions after he had testified in January that he did not know of any connections between the Donald Trump campaign and Russia, despite revelations that Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos said in a meeting, headed by Sessions, that he had been in contact with people at the Kremlin who wanted to set up a meeting between Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
During his opening statements on Tuesday, Sessions said that he didn’t remember that meeting until “I saw these news reports.”
“I do now recall that the March 2016 meeting at the Trump hotel that Mr. Papadopoulos attended, but I have no clear recollection of the details of what he said that meeting,” Sessions said.
He then tried to suggest that he was the voice of reason in the campaign advocating against contact with Russia.
“I believe that I wanted to make clear to (Papadopoulos) that he was not authorized to represent the campaign with the Russian government or any other foreign government for that matter,” he said. “But I did not recall this event.”
However, Sessions couldn’t recall how others in the meeting, including Trump himself, reacted to Papadopoulos’ suggestion.
New York Democrat Jerrold Nadler pushed to ask Sessions what the others’ reactions were, which earned an “I don’t recall.” Sessions gave the same answer when asked if Trump or others expressed interest in such a Russian meeting.
Again, Sessions seemed to have no memory of events after the meeting, either.
“After the meeting did you take any further steps to prevent Trump campaign officials and advisors or employees from further outreach to the Russians after you stopped it or pushed back at that meeting?” Nadler asked.
“I’m not aware of it,” Sessions said.
He also didn’t remember a conversation with Carter Page in which the Trump foreign policy adviser reportedly told Sessions that he would be going to Russia on a trip.
“While I do not challenge (Page’s) recollection, I have no memory of his presence at a dinner at the Capitol Hill Club or any passing conversation he may have had with me,” Sessions said.
After over an hour of answering questions, Sessions was blasted as evasive, with House judiciary committee’s ranking Democrat, John Conyers, Jr. in particular going after Sessions for not giving a “straight answer” on anything.
“He also offered no clarification whatsoever on his shifting Russia testimony, except say that he ‘did not lie’ and ‘cannot recall’ any key details,” Conyers, Jr. said.