U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has been making headlines ever since his appointment this past February. And his testimony today, November 14th, about the Russia investigation before the House Judiciary Committee has once again ignited controversy. Sessions claimed that he was telling the truth in October when he said he did not know of any Trump officials who had contact with Russia during the 2016 presidential campaign.
But court records contradicted him.
Records show that in March 2016 he met with campaign aide George Papadopoulos, who told Sessions he did have ties to Russian officials and could arrange contact.
“I had no recollection of this meeting until I saw these news reports,” Sessions said today.
However, Sessions was later able to provide details about the meeting with Papadopoulos that he initially claimed he didn’t remember happening the first place.
This isn’t the first time Sessions’ memory has been shaky when on the record. He previously denied knowledge of contact with Russian officials during his confirmation hearing in January. At the time, Sessions said he did not meet with any Russian officials during the 2016 presidential campaign, but it was later revealed that he had met with Sergey Kislyak, Russia’s ambassador to Washington. In response, he claimed that the meetings were unrelated to the campaign…yet in July, The Washington Post reported that Kislyak had discussed Trump’s campaign with Sessions.
In response to implications that he is not misremembering but lying about knowledge of Trump campaign ties to Russia, Sessions insisted that he has always been honest.
“I have always told the truth, and I have answered every question as I understood them and to the best of my recollection, as I will continue to do today,” he said in today’s hearing. “I will not accept and reject accusations that I have ever lied under oath. That is a lie.”
He further explained his inconsistent stories by saying, “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.”
It’s possible that Sessions is telling the truth and that he genuinely didn’t remember meeting with Russian officials nor conversations about plans to meet with them. But with everything else going on with the Russia probe, Sessions’ memory lapses are arguably convenient.
We’ll be watching this story as it unfolds.