Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III hid meetings with Russian Federation from Justice Department
- Author: Arturo Norris May 25, 2017,
May 25, 2017, 16:35
Sessions, who met with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak at least two times last year, didn't note those interactions on the form, which requires him to list "any contact" he or his family had with a "foreign government" or its "representatives" over the past seven years, officials said.
News of the omission also comes after President Trump's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, initially submitted his security clearance form without listing such contacts and as former national security adviser Michael Flynn is now under investigation for not properly disclosing payments linked to Russian Federation for his foreign trips.
DOJ spokeswoman Sarah Isgur Flores told CNN that Sessions did not list any of the dozens of ambassadors he met over years of being a senator. Prior said Sessions' staff consulted with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and others familiar with the disclosure process, and was told not to list those meetings connected to his Senate job. After the meetings were publicized, Sessions corrected the congressional record.
Asked by Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont, if he'd been in contact with anyone connected to the Russian government about the 2016 election, Sessions said no.
"I'm not aware of any of those activities", Sessions said.
The department said Sessions' staff relied on the guidance of the FBI investigator handling the background check, who advised that meetings with foreign dignitaries "connected with Senate activities" did not have to be reported on the form. In the amended testimony, the former Alabama senator said he spoke "briefly" in July 2016 to the Russian ambassador during the Republican National Convention in Cleveland. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) is sworn in before the Senate Judiciary Committee during his confirmation hearing.
"The reason I believed I should recuse myself is because I was involved in the campaign to a degree I think it would have been perceived is that I wouldn't be objective in participating in an investigation that might involve the campaign", Sessions told Fox News after announcing his recusal.
Sessions later confirmed the meetings, after the Washington Post revealed them.