Friday, June 9, 2017

Sessions Response to Comey Testimony

During his testimony, Comey mentioned Russia when explaining why he and other FBI staffers expected Sessions to recuse himself from Russia-related probes weeks before the attorney general stepped aside from the investigation.

“Our judgment, as I recall, was that he was very close to and inevitably going to recuse himself for a variety of reasons,” Comey said on Thursday. “We also were aware of facts that I can’t discuss in an open setting, that would make his continued engagement in a Russia-related investigation problematic and so we were—we were convinced and in fact, I think we had already heard that the career people [at the Justice Department] were recommending that he recuse himself, that he was not going to be in contact with Russia related matters much longer.”


In a Thursday evening statement, a spokesman for Attorney General Jeff Sessions pushed back on several aspects. [...] “Given Attorney General Sessions’ participation in President Trump’s campaign, it was for that reason, and that reason alone, the Attorney General made the decision on March 2, 2017 to recuse himself from any existing or future investigations of any matters related in any way to the campaigns for President of the United States,” Prior said in the statement.

Can't wait to hear the FBI report on Sessions' contact with Russians.
Sessions’ spokesman also disputed Comey’s description of an encounter the two had after a meeting on Feb. 14.

Comey said that following a meeting on that day, Trump pressured Comey to drop an investigation into Michael Flynn, Trump’s former national security adviser. After the meeting, Comey told Sessions that he cannot be left alone with Trump, Comey testified. Comey said that Sessions did not offer a verbal reply.

Sessions’ spokesman said in the Thursday statement that Sessions did reply verbally to Comey, however.

“The Attorney General was not silent; he responded to this comment by saying that the FBI and Department of Justice needed to be careful about following appropriate policies regarding contacts with the White House,” Prior said in the statement.
And if he doesn't have any contemporaneous written document to back that up, he loses in court. All this administration cares about is the court of public opinion, however, and indeed, that is often more impactful than legal results.

Sessions has already lied about contact with Russians and had to provide a CYA letter about it to the Senate Judiciary Committee.
During my confirmation hearing, Senator Franken asked the following question:

 [...] CNN just published a story alleging that the intelligence community provided documents to the president-elect last week that included information that quote, "Russian operatives claimed to have compromising personal and financial information about Mr . Trump." These documents also allegedly say quote , "There was a continuing exchange of information during the campaign between Trump's surrogates and intermediaries for the Russian government."


[I]f it's true, it's obviously extremely serious and if there is any evidence that anyone affiliated with the Trump campaign communicated with the Russian government in the course of this campaign, what will you do?


I responded: "Senator Franken, I'm not aware of any of those activities. I have been called a surrogate at a time or two in that campaign and I didn't have -- did not have communications with the Russians, and I'm unable to comment on it."

[...]  [ed: now for the real story...]

As I discussed publicly on March 2, 2017, I spoke briefly to the Russian Ambassador at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, in July 2016. This was at the conclusion of a speech I had made, when I also met and spoke with other ambassadors. In September 2016, I met with the Russian Ambassador at my Senate office in the presence of members of my professional Senate staff. I do not recall any discussions with the Russian Ambassador, or any other representative of the Russian government, regarding the political campaign on these occasions or any other occasion.

  Sessions letter to Charles Grassley & Dianne Feinstein, Senate Judiciary Committee
...but hey, do what you will anyway.

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