There was certainly plenty to discuss regarding what Jeff Sessions said (or didn’t say in many instances) during his testimony on Tuesday, but what stood out to me most was how he answered questions regarding a possible third undisclosed meeting between himself and the Russian ambassador. Sessions continually told lawmakers that he “couldn’t recall” if another meeting had taken place. In my opinion, this seemed to indicate he was fairly certain another meeting had taken place. However, because he’s hoping that the FBI won’t be able to find concrete evidence of it occurring, he worded his answers to these inquires in such a way as to avoid giving a definitive “yes” or “no” just in case investigators do.
However, it might not even be this potential third meeting that’s Sessions’ biggest problem at the moment.
According to a new report, an American lobbyist for several Russian interests that includes a state-run energy company and state-run Alfa bank, has contradicted part of Sessions’ testimony where he denied having “any contacts with any representative, including any American lobbyist or agent of any Russian company.”
As reported by Talking Points Memo:
On Thursday, an American lobbyist for several major Russian interests, including a state-run energy company and a private equity firm with the state-run Alfa bank, told the Guardian that Sessions in fact hosted him at two dinners during the presidential campaign. The dinners occurred around the time time that the American public learned of Russian efforts to influence the presidential election.
Richard Burt, a former U.S. ambassador to Germany who now lobbies on behalf a pipeline company owned by the Russian energy giant Gazprom, said he attended events with Sessions at least twice last year, and his ties to the Trump campaign were reported as early as last October. Burt made hundreds of thousands of dollars in 2016 alone lobbying Congress to exempt a proposed natural gas pipeline from U.S. sanctions, which would allow more Russian gas to flow to European markets—a key geopolitical goal of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Could both of these two meetings have also “slipped” his mind? Sure. I’m sure Sessions met with all sorts of people, especially during last year’s election.
That being said, at some point, his inability to “recall” various meetings with the Russian ambassador and lobbyists for Russian interests, in particular, either means he’s incompetent or he’s lying.
As I’ve said before, a coincidence can just be a coincidence. But when you start stringing enough of them together, especially when they all seem to share something in common — meetings with individuals with ties to Russia — that’s when it becomes a clear pattern and not just a couple of “random happenstances.”
At some point, Sessions is going to become indefensible for Trump. It’s one thing to have dismissed his possible first act of perjury with some flimsy excuse that his first two undisclosed meetings were done so as a senator, not in coordination with Trump’s campaign. But now that there are rumors of a potential third meeting Sessions acted rather hesitant to address on Tuesday, along with an American lobbyist for Russian interests contradicting part of his testimony regarding his denial of having any further undisclosed contact with anyone tied to Russia’s lobbying arm during last year’s election, every day it seems the attorney general is becoming a bigger liability for Trump.
Ignoring the fact that it’s not good when the nation’s de facto “top law enforcement official” continues to appear less than honest when giving sworn testimony, the longer Trump continues to keep Sessions as his attorney general, the more it’s going to look like the two are coordinating with one another trying to undermine and obstruct the on-going investigations into last year’s election.
Obviously I can’t predict the future, but it’s hard for me to imagine Jeff Sessions keeping his job much longer. He’s becoming much too big of a liability for Donald Trump during a time when that’s the last thing he needs. At this point, Sessions has been exposed as either being completely incompetent, or a liar, and neither option is good for Trump or (more importantly) the country as a whole.
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