Jeff Sessions has a funny relationship with the truth, to put it lightly. He has repeatedly been revealed to have lied about important items, only to claim various versions of “Whoops, I forgot” as a defense.
For example, he testified before Congress that he had no knowledge of efforts to cooperate with Russian efforts to influence the 2016 presidential election on the part of the Trump team. Soon afterwards, he was revealed to have been in a meeting in which a then-Trump foreign policy adviser discussed potentially setting up a secret meeting between Trump and Putin.
Now, former director of the U.S. Office of Government Ethics Walter Shaub is suggesting that Sessions is lying again.
The issue at hand is the fact that Sessions left numerous contacts with foreign government interests off the forms he filed to get his security clearance.
An unclassified internal FBI email was recently obtained that seems, at first glance at least, to indicate that the FBI indicated to Sessions that he did not need to include foreign contacts made in his official government capacity — he was a Senator before joining the Trump Administration — on the paperwork he filed to request a security clearance.
A look at the relevant dates, however, raises serious questions about the DOJ’s insistence that Sessions left the contacts including those with the now former Russian Ambassador to the U.S. Sergei Kislyak off his paperwork because the FBI told him to.
An email alleged to be evidence of the FBI instructing Sessions to leave contacts off his paperwork is from March 2017 and speaks of possible communication between the FBI and Sessions’ team in December 2016. Sessions filed his paperwork requesting a security clearance in November 2016, before the election even took place.
Shaub commented on Twitter that “[i]t’s possible but unlikely that an FBI agent was assigned to his background investigation yet when he was still completing the form,” making it “difficult” for him to accept a claim from Sessions spokesperson claiming that Sessions was guided by the FBI to leave foreign contacts conducted in his capacity as a Senator off of his paperwork.
The email produced as alleged evidence of Sessions having been guided by the FBI agent on his case to leave certain contacts off of his paperwork doesn’t corroborate Sessions’ story in more ways than just through the dates.
The agent writing the email, whose name has not been made public, doesn’t even say that they have any memory of any such conversation with Sessions’ team at all. Shaub suggests that the DOJ could produce a statement from the unnamed agent to clear things up, but they have yet to do so.
A copy of the email is below.
As lawyer Max Kennedy puts it, the email “is nothing more than an individual FBI agent’s post hoc opinion about whether it should’ve been disclosed” that “is in no way a defense to anything.”
This, again, isn’t the first time that details of some story peddled by Sessions haven’t matched up with reality.
When asked by Senator Al Franken whether he had any contacts with Russians in the lead-up to the election and Trump’s inauguration, Sessions said no — but he had, in fact, been in contact with Kislyak.
Shaub says that he would be “interested in knowing” whether the same agent who allegedly told Sessions to leave his Russia contacts off of his security clearance paperwork told him to answer as he did while speaking to Franken.
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