What We Now Know Jeff Sessions Knew About Trump Camp’s Russia Contacts

Attorney General Jeff Sessions arrives to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Oct. 18, 2017. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
Start your day with TPM.
Sign up for the Morning Memo newsletter

Democrats on Capitol Hill want answers from Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

This week’s deluge of fresh information from congressional and federal investigators revealed two previously undisclosed instances in which Sessions was allegedly directly informed about contacts between Russia and Trump campaign staffers Carter Page and George Papadopoulos.

Though Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) cautioned that perjury allegations were based on a “very careful standard,” he and other top Democrats claim Sessions appears to have failed to disclose the extent of what he knew about these contacts in his testimony to Congress.

That testimony has varied in its specificity. In June, Sessions gave a flat “no” to the Senate Intelligence Committee when asked if he was “aware of any communications” between Trump campaign officials “about Russia or Russian interests in the United States” prior to Trump’s inauguration. He offered a narrower response before the Senate Judiciary Committee in October, saying only that he had seen nothing “that would indicate collusion with Russians to impact the campaign” when asked if he’d ever overheard conversations with campaign staffers “who talked about meeting with the Russians.”

However Sessions chooses to interpret lawmakers’ questions, we now know of at least three instances in which he was allegedly told about or personally participated in communications with Russian officials or institutions during the 2016 campaign.

Those Two Times Sessions Met With The Russian Ambassador

Sessions incidentally kicked off a chain of events that led to the appointment of a special counsel to oversee the Russia probe when he said during his confirmation hearing that he was “not aware” of any communications between the Trump campaign and Russian government, nor had he himself had any.

As it turned out, Sessions had twice met with Sergey Kislyak, Russia’s ambassador to the United States. Furor over this discrepancy ended up prompting his recusal from the Russia investigation, clearing the way for Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein eventually to appoint Robert Mueller as special counsel in the Russia investigation

Sessions’ defense that he’d had those meetings in his capacity as a senator was belied by his role as a prominent surrogate of the Trump campaign and by intelligence intercepts that showed Kislyak boasting to his superiors in Moscow of speaking to the Alabama Republican about campaign-related matters.

When Papadopoulos Offered To Hook Trump Up With Putin

At a March 2016 meeting with the campaign’s hastily-assembled foreign policy team attended by Sessions, then-aide George Papadopoulos allegedly offered to use his “connections” to orchestrate a meeting between Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Trump insists his memory of this meeting, which came out in court documents unsealed Monday, is hazy. But a source told NBC News that Sessions immediately “shut down this idea of Papadopoulos engaging with Russia,” pivoting the conversation to other topics.

That same source later modified those remarks, saying it was unclear that Sessions remembered putting the kibosh on this Trump-Putin meeting, but that he definitely did so.

When Page Told Sessions He Was Traveling To Moscow

In testimony to the House Intelligence Committee and an interview with CNN this week, former campaign adviser Carter Page divulged for the first time that he allegedly told Sessions he planned to travel to Moscow in July 2016.

Page said he mentioned the trip, which he said was “completely unrelated” to his campaign role, “in passing” during a brief encounter with Sessions.

A source familiar with the conversation told CNN that the run-in happened at a June 2016 dinner at the Capitol Hill Club attended by members of Trump’s national security team, and that Sessions “didn’t respond” when Page informed him of his upcoming visit.

Page has previously said that he met no Russian government officials during that trip to deliver a speech at the New Economic School.

As these new alleged details about his attorney general trickle out, Trump has other matters on his mind. He sent off a flurry of tweets Friday urging the Justice Department to look into how the Democrats “rigged” the 2016 primary and told reporters he was “disappointed” in the department for failing to take those steps.

Latest Muckraker

Notable Replies

  1. Never fear, a little pixie dust will make it all right again!!

    (I soooooo hope not — I really want to see this jerk-off go down.)

  2. Avatar for tsp tsp says:
  3. If Trump doesn’t think Russian interference in the 2016 campaign is worse than any intra-party squabbles the Democrats had, maybe he isn’t fit to be POTUS. Of course anybody who would select Jeff Sessions to be Attorney General isn’t fit to serve in any elected office. Trump’s only defense may be his ignorance and lack of an attention span - but he was able to focus on his anti-Obama birtherism for several years, wasn’t he? Sessions the confederate should be removed from office - that’ll be the test of the American justice system for me.

  4. Avatar for pshah pshah says:

    We simply cannot have a racist perjurer as the chief law enforcement officer of our country.

    If we are truly a country of laws, then Sessions must go. It’s really that simple at this point. His lies are undeniable. Another low point in our nation’s history thanks to Trump.

  5. Mueller’s net is wide. What is publicly known about Sessions already gives Mueller a good deal of leverage against him, plus Mueller very likely knows more.

Continue the discussion at forums.talkingpointsmemo.com

112 more replies


Avatar for fess Avatar for xpurg8d Avatar for maxie Avatar for imkmu3 Avatar for leftflank Avatar for becca656 Avatar for sniffit Avatar for callmelefty Avatar for moreyampersand Avatar for franklin_smith Avatar for pshah Avatar for tena Avatar for junebug Avatar for brewhousebob Avatar for tsp Avatar for jtx Avatar for romi Avatar for cub_calloway Avatar for thinski Avatar for edys Avatar for texastoast Avatar for water4all Avatar for karlwlewis Avatar for bloomingpeonie

Continue Discussion
Masthead Masthead
Founder & Editor-in-Chief:
Executive Editor:
Managing Editor:
Associate Editor:
Editor at Large:
General Counsel:
Head of Product:
Director of Technology:
Associate Publisher:
Front End Developer:
Senior Designer: