WASHINGTON ― Attorney General Jeff Sessions said
Tuesday that he had “no recollection” of a former Trump
campaign adviser’s comments on Russia during a March 2016 Trump
campaign meeting on national security ― until, that is, it
emerged that George Papadopoulos had pled guilty to
lying to FBI agents working with the special counsel
investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election.
Sessions now says that, to the best of his recollection, he
tried to make clear at the time that Papadopoulos could not
represent the campaign to the Russian government.
Sessions testified Tuesday before the House Judiciary Committee
hearing on Capitol Hill. It’s the first time he’s appeared
before a congressional hearing since special counsel Robert
Mueller rolled out his first charges two weeks ago.
Democrats believe Sessions misled Congress with regard to what
he knew about representatives of the Trump campaign being in
contact with Russians. In March 2016, Sessions was photographed
sitting near Papadopoulos, a former Trump campaign adviser who
was later flipped by
Mueller’s team. Papadopoulos has admitted to lying
to FBI agents about being offered “dirt” on Hillary Clinton by
a professor with ties to the Russians.
Sessions had previously said he was “not aware” of anyone
affiliated with the Trump campaign coordinating with Russia. On
Tuesday, he said he had “no recollection” of the Russia talk
until he saw news reports.
“I do now recall the March 2016 meeting at Trump Hotel that Mr.
Papadopoulos attended, but I have no clear recollection of the
details of what he said during that meeting,” Sessions said.
“After reading his account, and to the best of my recollection,
I believe that I wanted to make clear to him that he was not
authorized to represent the campaign with the Russian
government, or any other foreign government, for that matter.
But I did not recall this event, which occurred 18 months
before my testimony of a few weeks ago, and would gladly have
Sessions said the Trump campaign was “brilliant” but also
chaotic, and that he was getting little sleep at the time.
“All of you have been in a campaign. But most of you have not
participated in a presidential campaign. And none of you had a
part in the Trump campaign. It was a brilliant campaign in many
ways. But it was a form of chaos every day from day one. We
traveled all the time, sometimes to several places in one
day. Sleep was in short supply,” Sessions said. “And I
was still a full-time senator keeping a very full schedule
during this time.”
Sessions said he could only do his best “to answer all of your
questions as I understand them and to the best of my memory.
But I will not accept and reject accusations that I have ever
lied under oath. That is a lie.”
“Let me be clear: I have at all times conducted myself
honorably and in a manner consistent with the high standards
and responsibilities of the office of attorney general,”
Sessions said. “As I said before, my story has never changed. I
have always told the truth, and I have answered every question
to the best of my recollection as I will continue to do today.”
Ryan Reilly is HuffPost’s senior justice reporter, covering
criminal justice, federal law enforcement and legal affairs.
Have a tip? Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Signal at
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