This is at least the third time Attorney General Jeff Sessions has changed his story about Russian contacts during the campaign. California Democratic Rep. Ted Lieu ran out of patience with his mendacity today.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions returned to Capitol Hill on Tuesday to yet again try to explain the extent of his contacts with Russian surrogates during the 2016 campaign.
Sessions’ story keeps changing, usually based on news revelations that contradict whatever he has most recently said on the topic.
And as California Democratic Rep. Ted Lieu pointed out during a House Judiciary Committee hearing, Sessions’ constantly evolving stories over the central issue of his Russian contacts points to a pressing problem.
He’s lying to members of Congress.
Ted Lieu to Sessions: “Either you’re lying to the U.S. Senate, or you’re lying to U.S. House of Representatives.” pic.twitter.com/nh8d0ORUN7
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) November 14, 2017
LIEU: You did have communications with the Russians last year, isn’t that right? Just a yes or no.
SESSIONS: I had a meeting with the Russian ambassador, yes.
LIEU: That’s exactly the opposite answer you gave under oath to the U.S. Senate. So again, either you’re lying to the U.S. Senate or you’re lying to the U.S. House of Representatives.
A flustered Sessions insisted he hadn’t lied, adding, “I appreciate the congressman’s right — I guess he can say, it’s free speech, he can’t be sued here.”
Previously, Sessions had testified during his Senate confirmation hearing that he had had no contacts with Russians. He then had to amend that claim when news leaked that he had met with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak at the Republican National Convention in July 2016.
Further trouble for Sessions came when special counsel Robert Mueller revealed that former Trump campaign aide George Papadopoulos had previously pleaded guilty to lying to federal agents. Papadopoulos told Mueller’s investigators that he had been in contact with Russians back in March 2016, and had proposed setting up a meeting between Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin — a meeting to which Sessions reportedly objected.
Yet this came after Sessions testified in October that he knew of nobody in the Trump campaign who had contacts with Russians during the presidential campaign. “And I don’t believe it happened,” he said at the time.
And during his latest testimony on Tuesday, Sessions weakly claimed, “Frankly, I had no recollection of this [Papadopoulos] meeting until I saw these news reports,”
It’s not surprising Democrats on the committee were frustrated with Sessions’ constantly changing story.
New York Democratic Rep. Hakeem Jeffries also called out this deceitfulness, focusing on Sessions’ persistent inability to remember key facts regarding Russian connections and pointing out the hypocrisy of Sessions’ suggestion last year that Hillary Clinton had committed perjury because she couldn’t remember some details during the FBI investigation into her private email use.
“The attorney general should not be held to a different standard on perjury,” Jeffries insisted.
Sessions seems to be taking the lead from Donald Trump and simply saying whatever might work to get him out of a jam or a tough question at any given moment, facts be damned.
But Democrats are clearly fed up with this non-stop dishonesty, and they’re not going to let him play dumb any longer.