Jeff Sessions – The First Fateful Three Weeks – Part II

It is apparent that Trump’s hand-picked ‘team’ has a problem with their collective noses … they cannot seem to keep them clean.  The latest in the team to scramble in the world of CYA is none other than Jeff Sessions.  During Sessions’ confirmation hearings in January, he took an oath to answer questions put to him with honesty.  Since the scenario I am about to discuss is tangled with the scenario of the Russian hackers, the investigation of said hackers, ties of Trump’s team to the Russian government, and the case of Mike Flynn, I thought it might be helpful to put together an abbreviated timeline to help clarify (the New York Times has put together a much better, more detailed timeline which I encourage you to look at also)

Timeline for the purpose of clarification:

  • 03 March 2016 – Trump announces Jeff Sessions will lead his national security advisory committee.
  • 18 July – 22 July 2016 – Sessions talks with Russian ambassador to the U.S., Sergey I. Kislyak and a group of other diplomats after an event at the Republican National Convention/
  • 08 September 2016 – Then Senator Sessions meets privately with Kislyak at Sessions’ office in the Senate Office Building.
  • 10 January 2017 – Under sworn oath, Sessions is asked by Senator Al Franken what he would do if “there is any evidence that anyone affiliated with the Trump campaign communicated with the Russian government in the course of this campaign.” Sessions replied: “I have been called a surrogate at a time or two in that campaign, and I didn’t have — did not have communications with the Russians, and I’m unable to comment on it.”
  • 17 January 2017 – Sessions, still under oath, is asked to complete a written set of questions prepared by the committee. Among the questions is one from Senator Patrick Leahy asking whether “he had been in contact with anyone connected to any party of the Russian government about the 2016 election, either before or after election day.” Sessions replied, “No.” 
  • 08 February 2017 – Despite opposition from Democrats and some Republicans, Sessions is confirmed as Attorney General.
  • 01 March 2017 – The Washington Post breaks a story  that AG Sessions had met twice with Ambassador Kislyak last year. Sessions responds to the Post story by saying, “I never met with any Russian officials to discuss issues of the campaign. I have no idea what this allegation is about. It is false.”
  • 02 March 2017 – Congressional Republicans begin breaking ranks and joining Democrats in demanding that Mr. Sessions recuse himself from overseeing an investigation into contacts between the Trump campaign and the Russian government. At a 4:00 p.m. press conference, Sessions announces he is recusing himself from any investigations related to the Trump campaign, saying now, “I don’t recall”, whether Mr. Trump or the presidential election, which was then two months away, came up in the discussion with the ambassador.

It would appear that members of Trump’s inner core have a severe problem with not only their noses, but also their memories. We are reminded of Mike Flynn’s downfall last month when it was discovered that he had communicated with Ambassador Kislyak on 25 December regarding the as-yet-unannounced U.S. sanctions against Russia.  First, he claimed he only called Mr. Kislyak to with him a “Merry Christmas”.  Then his story changed to “I might have mentioned sanctions … I really don’t remember”.  And then, it was proven that he had, in fact, discussed upcoming sanctions and more.  Flynn was forced to resign in disgrace.  Will Sessions’ fate be similar?

There are two salient points here:

  1. Jeff Sessions, the most senior enforcer of law in the nation, lied under oath
  2. Jeff Sessions had contact with a member of the Russian government twice during an election which, it has been proven, the Russian government conspired to sway.

Do I have proof that Sessions was a part of the wider conspiracy to turn the election in favour of Trump?  No, of course not.  Presumably, at this point, neither does anybody else, including the intelligence community.  However, the appearance of impropriety cannot be denied.

Opinions on both sides have been swirling madly today, some saying that he didn’t lie, because he {claims} he did not discuss anything related to the campaign.  This is splitting hairs, folks.  If I ask you if you ate the last of the chocolate ice cream this morning, and you actually ate it last night, so you simply say “no”, you have still falsified, or at the very least withheld information.  Sessions, if not trying to fabricate or conceal information, would have mentioned the two occasions on which he had met with Kislyak and stated the purpose of those two meetings.  It is called ‘transparency’.  It is called ‘honesty’.  It is called ‘integrity’.  All of these are qualities I want in the man who ultimately decides how laws will be enforced, a man who is the chief law enforcement officer AND chief lawyer for the nation.  We can nitpick, split hairs, and argue verbage for days, but the reality is that Jeff Sessions was not completely honest, and therefore does not belong in the position he is in.

A member of Trump’s administration said, “Sessions met with the ambassador in an official capacity as a member of the Senate armed services committee, which is entirely consistent with his testimony.” Two points here.  Yes, it may well be that Sessions, as a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, had justifiable cause to meet with Ambassador Kislyak.  However … in that case, why hide the truth?  The lack of transparency here is deeply disturbing, leads to much speculation, and is taken, at least by this writer, as a sign that Sessions is hiding something, a sign of dishonesty.

Had he not recused himself this afternoon, Sessions would have led the investigation into the connections of Trump and his advisory team and their connections with Russia during the campaign.  There is a lot of room for ethics violations and outright dishonesty, cover-up worse than Watergate, and breach of trust here.  Even Representative Jason Chaffetz, the Utah Republican who played a significant role in the electoral loss of Hillary Clinton, said earlier today, “AG Sessions should clarify his testimony and recuse himself.” 

Sessions made the right decision in recusing himself from any investigations into the Trump campaign and the Russian government, but is it enough?  There are calls from Democrats in and out of Congress for Sessions to step down, to resign his position.  I agree with those who believe he should do so, in part because his nomination to that position has always disturbed me based on his blatant and inherent racism, but also because this latest episode of dishonesty disturbs me even more.  If he lied about one thing, we must ask the question, what else is he lying about, or to what lengths is he willing to go to obscure the truth?  In the three short weeks he has been in office, he has already stomped on LGBT rights by rescinding protections for transgender students, and tromped on the civil rights of African-Americans and other minorities by announcing his intent to stop monitoring police departments with a history of racial bias and related police brutality.  The Russian connection is only the latest in a series of acts that prove he is not the right man for this job.  The job of U.S. Attorney General requires somebody who is honest, is compassionate, is dedicated to following the letter of the law with compassion and humanity, and above all has the courage of his convictions.  Jeff Sessions is none of these things.

So yes, I do believe Sessions needs to resign, but we need to learn from the experiences of Flynn and Sessions and demand better choices from our government, demand that Congress be more dedicated to the good of the whole, rather than the benefit of the few who fill their coffers.

There may yet be a Part III of this post in a day or two, once the dust has had time to settle from the two-day whirlwind chain of events.  Time will tell.

 

6 thoughts on “Jeff Sessions – The First Fateful Three Weeks – Part II

  1. I will stand back from my own political beliefs because these events are not happening my country.
    All this displays this continuing trend of amateurism.
    In the UK our political infrastructure had this phrase ‘Mistakes Have Been Made But Lessons Have Been Learnt’. As the USA constitution contains so many theoretical checks and balances it is easy enough for someone to trip up and either be seen with ‘their hands in the cookie jar’, or just ‘not looking where they were going’
    A version of our phrase should have been played at once (in possible good humour, but with a serious undertone)
    In a situation which involves a very senior official it is vital to tread carefully at all stages, and ‘watch your back’. To go around with an air of ‘making it up as it goes along’ does not really breed confidence, and only serves to heat up the debate between both sides of the political divide.
    They should have realised they would have had problems on being elected and worked on the traditional Charm Offensive, otherwise they foster discord.

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  2. Dear Jill,

    Jeff Sessions as an attorney with experience knew how to lie while being immune from a perjury charge. All he has to say…is I did not intend…I did not understand…I do not recall.. etc. And he has the character to do just that!
    A prosecutor cannot prevail in court with a perjury case unless he /she can prove intent.
    Hugs, Gronda

    Liked by 1 person

    • Certainly it has been proven that he has the character (or lack thereof) to deflect, lie and evade, but one must ask … would not an intelligent man know better? Sigh. There is a notable lack of intelligence, not to mention integrity, in this administration! Hugs!!!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I hope I’m proved wrong but I can’t see this one resigning. I suppose Trump could push him while claiming to be ignorant of Session’s meetings. That would be great as there might be time to undo some of his handiwork so far.
    xxx Massive Hugs xxx

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