Interesting little scoop here from the Post. Attorney General Jeff Sessions met twice last year with Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak – once informally at a conference and a second time privately in Sessions’ senate office in September 2016.
What is notable here is that in itself there’s nothing surprising or untoward about this. Sessions was a senior member of the Armed Services committee, essentially a foreign policy making committee. So meeting with ambassadors and other foreign officials is part of the job, one of the responsibilities. What sets it apart is that Sessions seems clearly to have concealed it.
He was asked about it twice during his confirmation hearings – once very specifically by Sen. Franken and then in a slightly more general way by Sen. Leahy. Both times he said without equivocation that he had not had any communications or meetings with any Russian government officials during the 2016 election. Now the DOJ is admitting that he did. Michael McFaul, who served as Ambassador to Russia until 2014 is quoted in the story and I think has it right. There’s nothing really wrong with having met with Kislyak. “The weird part is to conceal it. That was at the height of all the discussions of what Russia was doing during the election.”
Sessions’ backers say he wasn’t deceiving anyone. He meant that he had met with the Ambassador in his role as committee member, not as a surrogate for the Trump campaign. But that’s silly. For whatever reason, Sessions chose to conceal this.