U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions testified Tuesday before a congressional panel, with Democratic lawmakers questioning his recollection of contacts Donald Trump’s election campaign had last year with Russian operatives. Here are some key highlights.
Sessions rejected accusations that he had lied to lawmakers when he previously testified he knew of no contacts Trump’s election campaign had last year with Russians.
“Lastly, I would like to address the false charges made about my previous testimony. My answers have not changed. I have always told the truth, and I have answered every question as I understood them, to the best of my recollection, as I will continue to do today.”
Sessions said he had no recollection of a 2016 meeting with a Trump campaign aide George Papadopoulos, who discussed his contacts with people who said they could arrange a meeting between Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin, until recent news reports showed he had chaired the meeting.
“ Frankly, I had no recollection of this meeting until I saw these news reports. I do now recall that the March 2016 meeting at the Trump Hotel that Mr. Papadopoulos attended, but I have no clear recollection of the details of what he said at that meeting. 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 I would gladly have reported it, had I remembered it because I push back against his suggestion that I thought may have been improper.”
The U.S. attorney general attributed his failure to remember the Papadopoulos meeting, as well as a contact with Carter Page, another Trump aide who was making overtures to Russia, to the chaos of the Trump campaign.
“All you have been in campaigns. Let me just suggest, but most of you have not participated in a presidential campaign. And none of you had a part in the Trump campaign. And It was a brilliant campaign I think in many ways. But it was a form of chaos every day from day one. We traveled sometime to several places in one day. Sleep was in short supply. And I was still a full-time Senator with a very full schedule. During this year, I have spent close to 20 hours testifying before Congress, before today. I have been asked to remember details from a year ago, such as who I saw on what day, in what meeting, and who said what to when. In all of my testimony, I can only do my best to answer 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. That is a lie.”
Sessions was also asked about calls to to appoint a special counsel to investigate allegations of collusion between Hillary Clinton’s campaign and the Democratic National Committee, issues linked to her use of a private email system while serving as secretary of state, the Clinton Foundation and an Obama-era purchase of American uranium mines by a Russian-backed company.
“I have directed senior federal prosecutors to make recommendations as to whether any matters not currently under investigation should be opened, whether any matters currently under investigation require further resources, or whether any matters merit the appointment of a Special Counsel.”