When Attorney General Jeff Sessions fired former FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe a mere 26 hours before he was slated to retire, he cited numerous occasions in which McCabe supposedly “lacked candor–under oath.”
Well, that statement looks just a little bit awkward in light of an exclusive report from Reuters. At least three people have told investigators plumbing the Russian effort to hack the election that Sessions is lying about his previous claims that he opposed efforts by Trump campaign operatives to reach out to Russia.
Remember the infamous House Judiciary Committee hearing in November at which Sessions said “I don’t recall” at least 85 times? Watch The Young Turks review that hearing here.
Well, another statement Sessions made at that hearing is now in the spotlight. You may remember that when former Trump campaign aide George Papadopoulos agreed to cooperate with Robert Mueller’s investigation into the Russian hacking, he claimed that he had made a shocking proposal at a March 31, 2016 campaign meeting. He claimed that he could arrange a meeting between Trump and Russian dictator Vladimir Putin.
Sessions was the head of the Trump campaign’s foreign policy team at the time. When asked whether he opposed this overture by Papadopoulos, Sessions said, “Yes, I pushed back” against it.
But that’s not what three people who have spoken with Mueller and congressional investigators say. They claim that Sessions expressed no objections to Papadopoulos’ proposal. The campaign’s former national security director, J. D. Gordon, however, claims that Sessions did vigorously oppose that idea. So who is telling the truth?
If it turns out Sessions deliberately lied about his response to Papadopoulos, it could potentially expose him to charges of perjury. Legal opinion is somewhat mixed on the impact of this latest development. Jonathan Turley of George Washington University thinks Sessions’ remarks may not amount to “concrete and clear” evidence that he deliberately misled the committee. However, Bennett Gershman of Pace University believes that with “multiple places where Sessions arguably made false statements,” a perjury case could potentially go somewhere.
Remember, Sessions has already been busted in the chops for not disclosing his contacts with the Kremlin’s ambassador to Washington during the campaign. That’s the very reason why he was forced to recuse himself from the Russia investigation in the first place.
Having one instance of memory failure can be excused. But two instances of memory failure, and probably more? Even if Sessions didn’t commit a crime, at some point you have to wonder if he can be effective.
(featured image courtesy the Office of President-Elect Trump, available under a Creative Commons BY-SA license)