There seems to be something oddly familiar about the words I am about to type: In DC, it’s not the crime it’s the cover-up. The phrase implies that the public cares less about an official’s wrongdoings than they do the fact that they tried to cover it up. This is a lesson that you would have thought the Trump administration learned after their National Security Advisor Michael Flynn was forced to resign amid revelations that he had illegally communicated with Russian Officials before officially taking office and then lied about it. However, less than a month later, here we are again. In this latest round of “who’s been talking to Russia” Attorney General Jeff Sessions is under the microscope.
It has recently been revealed that Sessions, who served as a high profile surrogate for President Trump during the campaign, met with the Russian Ambassador to the United States Sergey Kislyak twice around the time of what US intelligence officials have said was the height of the Russian cyber campaign to upend the presidential race. This on its own would be incredibly concerning, but there is still more. Sessions, during his confirmation hearings to become Attorney General, was asked verbally by Senator Al Franken (D-MN) what he would do if he “learned of any evidence that anyone affiliated with the Trump campaign had communicated with the Russian government in the course of the 2016 campaign.” Sessions replied that “I am not aware of any of those activities, I have been called a surrogate at a time or two in that campaign and I did not have communications with the Russians.” Later, Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) asked Sessions for written answers to questions; One of which was “have you been in contact with anyone connected to any part of the Russian government about the 2016 election, either before or after election day?” Sessions answer to the questions was a single word. “No.” Since news of the meetings broke, Attorney General Sessions has denied any wrongdoing. In a statement issued by his office earlier this week, Sessions said that he “never met with any Russian officials to discuss issues of the campaign. [He has] no idea what this allegation is about. [The report] is false.” Justice Department officials later clarified that, while Sessions did meet with the Ambassador, he was meeting in his capacity as a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee.
Session’s initial denial and then, frankly, weak explanation, is just another example of the Trump Administration’s causal relationship with the truth and with ethical standards. More worrisome, this now makes two Trump campaign officials who have been caught lying about the contacts they had with high-ranking Russian diplomats. I said in my special report before Flynn’s resignation that “by displaying a willing to deceive those around him, including the President and Vice President, Flynn undermines his own credibility and leaves those who are counting on his judgment further in the dark.” The same is true for Sessions, except instead of lying to the President – an act that is horrific in its own right – Sessions lied under oath to the body that is supposed to oversee his department and provide a check on his actions, the United States Senate. The Russian caper aside, this is an atrocious act and one that deserves to be met with resignation or impeachment. Stay Tuned.