Attorney General Jeff Sessions vehemently denied in a House Judiciary Committee hearing that he ever misled Congress on what he recalled about Russia-related activity during his time on the Trump campaign.
“In all of my testimony, I can only do my best to answer all of 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 under oath. That is a lie,” Sessions said in his opening statement Tuesday.
His previous appearances in front of congressional committees have received new scrutiny in light of new revelations in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe. Sessions said Tuesday that he did not recall a March 2016 meeting with George Papadopoulos, a Trump campaign adviser who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about Russian contacts, when he previously testified that he was unaware of Russian-campaign communications.
“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,” Sessions said in his opening statement.
As for the testimony last week of Trump campaign adviser Carter Page in front of the House Intelligence Committee that cited a dinner at which Page informed Sessions of his July 2016 plans to travel to Russia, Session said he also did not remember Page’s presence at the dinner or their conversation.
“All of you have been in campaigns, let me just suggest. But most of you have not participated in a presidential campaign,” Sessions said. “And none of you had a part in the Trump campaign. It was a brilliant campaign, I think, in many ways. But it was a form of chaos every day, from day one. We traveled all the time, sometimes to several places in one day. Sleep was in short supply.”
Sessions said he “pushed back” at Papadopoulos’ suggestion at the March 2016 that Trump meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Asked if he did anything beyond his comments to Papadopoulos in the meeting, Sessions denied knowing that the adviser’s Russian contacts were continuing.
“I don’t believe I had any knowledge of any further contacts and was not in direct contact with Mr. Papadopoulos,” Sessions said.