Saturday, 18 November, 2017

Did Sessions break the law by denying knowledge of Russian Federation contacts?

Justice Department Confirms Prosecutors Are Sessions raises prospect of special counsel on GOP concerns
Saul Franklin | 15 November, 2017, 00:54

"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 explained.

Sessions noted that there have only ever been two special counsels: one for the Waco siege in April 1993, and Robert Mueller's probe into possible collusion between Russian Federation and the Trump campaign. Before leaving for a trip to Asia this month, Mr. Trump expressed his frustration with the Justice Department. Page has said publicly that he told Sessions past year that he was preparing to visit Russian Federation.

Sessions responded to these revelations by insisting that he'd met with Ambassador Sergey Kislyak in his capacity as US senator (not as a Trump surrogate), and that they did not discuss the 2016 election.

Sessions testified that he now remembers the meeting Papadopoulos, but his memory about conversations is limited.

When asked previously about whether he believed surrogates from the Trump campaign had communications with the Russians, Sessions said, speaking before the House Judiciary Committee. "He's bold and direct about what he says, people elected him, but we do our duty every day based on law and facts".

Some legal experts said there is a strong argument that Sessions committed perjury at an October 18 oversight hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

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The department's letter also referenced allegations that the FBI did not properly handle the investigation into former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server.

"'Looks like' is not enough basis to appoint a special counsel", Sessions said. "I have made a decision to recuse myself from any existing or future investigations of any matters related in any way to the campaigns for President of the United States", he said.

While the Justice Department is part of the executive branch - and the attorney general is appointed by and answers to the president - the White House generally provides input on broad policy goals and does not weigh in on criminal probes. "I have always tried to answer the questions fairly and accurately". 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".

Sessions grew angry in response, repeating that he had never lied under oath.

"You can't x-ray people's minds to see what they were thinking and what they knew, so perjury can be a hard crime to prove", said Bennett Gershman, a professor of criminal law at Pace Law School.

Sessions has given sworn testimony at least three times to Senate and House committees, and Democratic lawmakers have pointed to inconsistencies in his statements.

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