Things are looking worse for Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
On top of the recent revelations that Sessions had communications with Russian surrogates prior to his Senate confirmation hearings (and the fact he did not disclose those said communications), multiple reports are circulating that he used his Senate reelection funds to cover his travel expenses to the Republican National Convention, where he also met with the Russian ambassador.
Not only did Sessions meet with the Russian ambassador and fail to mention it, he used campaign funds to get to the place where he met the Russian ambassador.
The Wall Street Journal reports:
‘Campaign-finance-disclosure records show Mr. Sessions’ re-election campaign account was used for travel expenses in Cleveland at the same time the Republican National Convention was held in July, rather than using official funds that would pay for travel by him or other members of the Senate Armed Services Committee.’
Two specifically reported payments of $1,395 were made to Sheraton Cleveland Airport and then two payments to the Westin Hotel in Cleveland. Those two payments totaled $223. The payments were labeled as “lodging.”
No reimbursements from the Trump campaign account have been made to the Sessions’ reelection campaign account.
So, why would Sessions use his reelection account rather than his legislative account, and what is so significant about that? According to WSJ:
‘Larry Noble, general counsel at the Campaign Legal Center, a nonpartisan advocacy group, said Mr. Sessions used his campaign account, rather than official Senate funds, because as a senior adviser to the Trump campaign it would have been difficult to argue that he wasn’t attending the convention for any political purpose.’
Let’s try to break this down.
Had he been there as a member of the Armed Services Committee, it would have been reasonable for him to use his legislative account, according to Noble. So, it would have most likely been inappropriate as he was also a senior adviser to the Trump campaign. By using his campaign funds, he got around the issue of ethics; however, at the convention he spoke with the Russian ambassador, yet he claims he did not speak to the ambassador as a Trump surrogate.
So, he attended an event he paid for as a Trump surrogate and acted as Trump’s senior adviser. However, when he spoke to the Russian ambassador, he was representing the Senate Armed Services Committee only.
Oh, the confusing web we weave.
Furthermore, one source who was at the event said Sessions made remarks that focused on Trump’s trade policy, which could leave the impression he was there as some sort of surrogate for Trump. WSJ reported:
‘Mr. Sessions made comments related to Mr. Trump’s presidential campaign at a Heritage Foundation event during the Republican convention in July, when he met with Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak, according to a person at the event in Cleveland.’
Spokesperson for Sessions, Sarah Isgur Flores, has yet to comment.
Since the allegations and confirmation of communications between Sessions and the Russian ambassador broke, Sessions has since recused himself from any probes or investigations into Russian ties to the 2016 election. Furthermore, he has stated the allegation that he lied to lawmakers about his communications were “totally false” and that he was “honest and correct.” He reasons he was acting as a senator while meeting with the Russian ambassador, not as a Trump spokesperson. The White House also backed Sessions, with White House press secretary Sean Spicer saying, “This is what senators do in the course of conducting themselves in their jobs.”
Featured image via Getty Images / Win McNamee.