Did Jeff Sessions Lie Under Oath About Meeting with Russian Envoys?

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Russian envoys

The Claim:

On March 1, 2017, the Washington Post claimed that Jeff Sessions lied under oath during his Senate confirmation for Attorney General when asked about Russian connections.

The Verdict:

It’s official: the mainstream media has an unhealthy obsession with accusing Trump of having Russian ties. It all began with the Hillary Clinton campaign falsely stating that Russians hacked the DNC, a story that the MSM could not stop reporting. Then Hillary claimed that Russia hacked her emails and provided them to Wikileaks. The media dedicated hours of airtime to covering this claim, although there is still no proof to support it. Then Russians hacked the election that she lost. Then the Washington Post claimed Russians hacked an electrical grid in Vermont, a story so widely disproven that WashPo had to retract the entire report. Then there was the Russian “Golden Showers Dossier” produced by Buzzfeed and discussed, live on air, by CNN anchors. Then, the MSM claimed Russia used independent media to elect Trump. False. Then the Washington Post alleged Michael Flynn may have violated the Logan Act by discussing sanctions with Russia. False. Now WashPo claims Jeff Sessions was caught lying about his secret Russian ties.

Another bit of fake news caused users on Twitter to call for Sessions’ immediate resignation.

Some even said Sessions committed perjury for not disclosing his interactions with Russia as a senator.

The Washington Post’s allegations stem from two meetings that Sessions had with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak. As senator, Sessions was a part of the Armed Services Committee and worked closely with diplomats from all over the world. It is not uncommon for members of the Senate to meet with government officials from other countries. For example, Barack Obama met with Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom on January 10, 2006, in Israel. Obama scheduled this meeting as he started to consider a run for the presidency.

WashPo admitted that Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak is not an intelligence operative trying to help Trump win the election, but a diplomat. U.S. government officials do not believe there was anything unusual about the meeting:

Current and former U.S. officials say they see Kislyak as a diplomat, not an intelligence operative.”

The allegation that Sessions lied under oath is false. A careful parsing of Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ testimony at his confirmation hearings reveals that he did not falsify answers about his interactions with Russia. Senator Patrick Leahy asked the following question:

Several of the President-elect’s nominees or senior advisers have Russian ties. Have you been in contact with anyone connected to any part of the Russian government about the 2016 election, either before or after election day?” (italics added for emphasis)

Sessions answered “no” to this question.

Sessions was not asked if he was in contact at all with the Russians, he was asked if he was in contact about the 2016 election. This was at a time when Democratic officials, and some Republicans like John McCain and Lindsey Graham, were concerned about Trump-Russia ties.

The second allegation in the WashPo hit piece is that Sessions falsified his testimony when answering questions from Senator Al Franken (D- Mn.). Senator Franken asked:

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?”

Attorney General Sessions replied:

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 did not have communications with the Russians.

Clearly, Sessions said that he did not communicate with the Russians as a “surrogate” for the Trump campaign. He never claimed that he did not have communications with Russian envoys as a senator in 2016.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions is the latest in a string of hits on Trump administration officials led by the mainstream media and Democrats in Congress.

The Washington Post interviewed Sessions’ spokeswoman, Sarah Isgur Flores, about the matter:

There was absolutely nothing misleading about his answer. He was asked during the hearing about communications between Russia and the Trump campaign — not about meetings he took as a senator and a member of the Armed Services Committee,” Flores said.

Clearly, WashPo’s headline doesn’t illustrate an actual scandal. It illustrates more fake news.