Forced by court order to release his security clearance form, the document confirms Attorney General Jeff Sessions omitted all mention of his previous contacts with Russians.
The White House’s Russia scandal continues to encompass all corners of the administration. In recent days, Donald Trump’s son, his son-in-law, and his former campaign manager have emerged as central players in the collusion controversy.
Now Trump’s Justice Department, once again, finds itself at the forefront of the controversy.
Belatedly responding to a court order to make public any information about contacts then-Sen. Jeff Sessions had with Russians last year while he was advising the Trump campaign, the DOJ finally released on Thursday a heavily redacted, single page document that was due the previous day.
It showed that Session had checked the “no” box in reference to the question about having contacts with foreign officials during the previous seven years.
— American Oversight (@weareoversight) July 13, 2017
One month ago, Judge Randolph Moss of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, ordered the DOJ to produce Sessions’ security clearance application, or SF-86, which he had to submit in order to become Attorney General.
The order came after the watchdog group, American Oversight, filed a Freedom of Information request for Session’s SF-86 as well as any notes prepared by FBI background investigators.
But the group received no response. In April, American Oversight sued the DOJ in search of information regarding Sessions’ contact "with any official of the Russian government."
That court-issued deadline expired Wednesday. Thursday morning, the DOJ released the single-page document.
"It's one thing to know that the Attorney General lied on his security clearance form, but it's another to see a potential felony in black and white," Austin Evers, executive director of American Oversight, said in a statement.
The SF-86 confirms Sessions “successfully misled the FBI about his contacts with Russian government officials during his security clearance application process,” according to the group.
Like so much with the unfolding Trump-Russia saga, the tale of Sessions’ contacts with Russians remains a puzzling one. On his SF-86, which required he list all contacts with foreign officials he or his family may have had with foreign government official, Sessions omitted any references to Russians.
And at his confirmation hearing in January before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Sessions testified that he "did not have communications" with Russians during the campaign.
He later admitted to speaking with Russia's ambassador to the U.S., Sergey Kislyak last year at the Republican Party convention in Cleveland.
Called back to testify again in June to address the oversight, Sessions insisted the SF-86 omission had simply been an oversight. As NPR notes, the SF-86 is “the same form presidential adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner has recently had to revise after omitting meetings with Russian officials.”