Sessions Recuses Himself From Any Russian Investigation

jeff_sessions_official_portraitAs often seems the case in Washington, the controversy surrounding the meetings of then Senator Jeff Sessions with the Russian Ambassador has quickly descended into a feeding frenzy. When interviewed shortly after the disclosure, I stated that Attorney General Sessions should recuse himself and clarify his testimony. Late this afternoon, Sessions promised to do precisely that. However, the over-hearted rhetoric has continued with calls for Sessions to resign or even be criminally charged. People are getting ahead of their skis on this issue, particularly in claiming that this is the same type of controversy that led to the criminal charges against former Attorney General Richard G. Kleindienst.

Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (N.Y.) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) have insisted that Sessions should resign. I do not see the basis for such a resignation anymore than I saw the compelling case for a perjury charge. Here is the exchange where Senator Al Franken raises the issue of continual campaign communications between surrogates and the Russians. Sessions said that he responded to the breaking news over collusion on the campaign:

That is not the model of clarity and certainly not the stuff that a perjury case is made of. Here is the language of the perjury provision:

18 U.S. Code § 1621 – Perjury generally

(1) having taken an oath before a competent tribunal, officer, or person, in any case in which a law of the United States authorizes an oath to be administered, that he will testify, declare, depose, or certify truly, or that any written testimony, declaration, deposition, or certificate by him subscribed, is true, willfully and contrary to such oath states or subscribes any material matter which he does not believe to be true; or
(2) in any declaration, certificate, verification, or statement under penalty of perjury as permitted under section 1746 of title 28, United States Code, willfully subscribes as true any material matter which he does not believe to be true;
is guilty of perjury and shall, except as otherwise expressly provided by law, be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than five years, or both. This section is applicable whether the statement or subscription is made within or without the United States.

Sessions had staffers present in the Senate meeting (the other encounter followed a speech at the Republican Convention) and has stated that the meeting was at the Russian’s request and concerned foreign policy disputes.

Of course, there are other charges like misleading Congress and “misleading” is defined broadly under federal law:

the term “misleading conduct” means—
(A) knowingly making a false statement;
(B) intentionally omitting information from a statement and thereby causing a portion of such statement to be misleading, or intentionally concealing a material fact, and thereby creating a false impression by such statement;
(C) with intent to mislead, knowingly submitting or inviting reliance on a writing or recording that is false, forged, altered, or otherwise lacking in authenticity;
(D) with intent to mislead, knowingly submitting or inviting reliance on a sample, specimen, map, photograph, boundary mark, or other object that is misleading in a material respect; or
(E) knowingly using a trick, scheme, or device with intent to mislead;

Nevertheless, there is still a requirement of intentional conduct. Here Sessions is saying that he responded to the news controversy about campaign interests.

Some have suggested that this is, at a minimum, a failure to give full and accurate testimony to the Senate, the basis for the misdemeanor charge against Richard G. Kleindienst. In his confirmation hearing, Kleindienst was asked about whether anyone had spoken to him about the antitrust case against International Telephone and Telegraph Corporation (I.T.T.). He said that he had not. Later Leon Jaworski revealed a phone call in which Nixon told Kleindiesnt to drop the I.T.T. case. Kleindienst insisted that he had not though the question was open ended but rather confirmed to a certain period.

The Kleindienst charge came out of a broader Watergate investigation and directly related to an attempt of the President to scuttle the case against I.T.T. Ironically, Sessions responded to the most serious aspect of the question over campaign coordination or communications with the Russians. In this circumstance, Sessions answered the specific allegation in the media as opposed to whether he met with any Russian. I think he would have been wise to say that he occasionally meets with diplomats, including Russians, as part of his Senatorial functions. Yet, as shown by the tweet by Sen. Claire McCaskill in denying any meetings with the Russian Ambassador (but later recalling two such meetings, it is easy to err in such comments. I do not believe that Sen. McCaskill was trying to mislead and I have not reason to assume the contrary with regard to then Sen. Sessions.

Various attorneys general have faced such allegations of perjury. For example, former attorney general Eric Holder was accused by critics of possible perjury when he told Congress that he was not involved in the prosecution of a journalist for the publication of classier information. However, it was later revealed that he signed the warrant naming journalist James Rosen as a potential co-conspirator. The Justice Department parsed the words of what “prosecution” meant in the question and some experts questioned the basis for such a charge.

In the end, no perjury case has been made against Sessions. Should he have answered for broadly, yes. Should he have corrected the record earlier, yes. I have also felt that recusal was the clearly advisable course weeks ago and before this latest controversy.  However, that does not make this a criminal matter. A recusal and clarifying letter will address the prior errors.

On a more tactical note, the White House should be concerned about another clumsy response to a controversy. Last night, the allegation was wrongly denounced as pure partisan attack. It was clearly more than that. Now, less than 24 hours later, an official recusal has been made and a letter of clarification will be issued. The White House needs to “up its game” dramatically. The White House continues to stumble through these controversies rather than take control. It sometimes seems that when the White House should be moving deliberately, it moves too fast — and when it should be proceeding with dispatch, it seems to move too slowly. There is clearly a period for any staff to reach its rhythm but this is bleeding the Administration from missteps that should have been avoided.

162 thoughts on “Sessions Recuses Himself From Any Russian Investigation”

  1. Yes. This is sweet. Sessions is merely the second one they will get…The pillar of our democracy–the free press–will shine the disinfectant of light on the crimes of the new junta, and the roaches will scatter. Donny hasn’t seen anything yet. This thing will develop more leaks than a hillbilly rowboat. Get your popcorn…

    1. “Sessions is merely the second one they will get”.
      Mark M., you are apparently predicting that Sessions will be the next to resign, after Flynn.
      If you meant something other than “they will get”, please clarify.

    2. The free press? You must be taking advantage of the lax marijuana laws these days. Why don’t you talk about the real story, the press has been bought and paid for. It’s been proven.

    1. She did not lie under oath. Why didn’t Sessions come forward when Flynn resigned?

      1. There were evidently transcripts of Flynn’s call(s) discussing the removal of sanctions with the Russians.
        I think he denied that in interviews with the FBI.
        There is nothing comparable in Flynn’s case to the testimony of Sessions
        I realize that McCaskill was not under oath.
        I just think that she’s not in the best position to criticize Sessions when she herself erroniously claimed she’d never met the Russian ambassador.

  2. Not sure what the best strategy is for addressing these pseudo-controversies. Perhaps just ignore them.

      1. If they would answer rather than obscure the point they are trying to make by the side slams, they are looking like DDT (pesticides) have infected the offsprings.

        Make your point. It’s not what they did wrong, it’s what the president and his staff are doing.

  3. Stumble, indifference, what does it matter? If nothing is going to come from it other than maybe a waste of political capital then why adhere to existing political strategies?
    Isn’t that why the man got elected in the first place, specifically for his reluctance to tow to prevailing political winds?
    RGB’s comments and now this behavior from the current attorney general seems rather par for the course for the political wing of the judicial class.
    Kinda sad the one who owns this blog is such an expert but never served a day on the bench.

  4. Jeff talks funny. He is good enough to be AG. I watched the whole news slew and indeed saw JT on TV just a while ago.
    People who sit on the Armed Services Committee and other groups in Congress need to be talking to Russians and other foreign folks.
    No evidence here of election fraud.

  5. Sessions pulled a lawyer, a Slick Willie, a legal speak. “It depends on what you mean.”, and slip slide away. Typically politicians lie after they fail to deliver, when they are accused of this or that. In this case, the whole DDT mob has lied from the get go. DDT himself established the bar by lying relentlessly from the beginning over a year ago. His mob is used to it and even look forward to his tough guy, say anything, routine. So, get used to it. The goofy Conway stare, the phony Spicer anger, the DDT that outdoes Alec Baldwin; it would be funny if you were French or British, or Canadian.

    1. Right. It was a slick lawyer trick for Sessions to listen to the question, then answer the question. And since the guy asking the question was Al Franken it’s barely in English, but it was clearly about Trump campaign surrogates meeting with Russians to discuss the 2016 election.

      “Franken: CNN just published a story alleging that the intelligence community provided documents to the president-elect last week, that included information that “Russian operatives claim to have compromising personal and financial information about Mr. Trump.” These documents also allegedly say “there was a continuing exchange of information during the campaign between Trump surrogates and intermediaries for the Russian government.” Again, I’m telling you this as it’s coming out, so you know. But if it’s true, it’s obviously extremely serious, and if there is any evidence that anyone affiliated with the Trump campaign communicated with the Russian government in the course of this campaign, what will you do?

      Sessions: Senator Franken, I’m 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, and I’m unable to comment on it.”

      What is it about you leftists and your inability to speak, think in, or understand English?

      1. I guess he answered the question he wanted asked, rather than the question asked.

    1. You are absolutely right. The Republicans do not know how to fight. The Dems run rough shod over them breaking rules when in power and beat up on them when not in power. Loretta Lynch never recused herself after meeting with Clinton nor did the Republicans ask for her to. The uranium mine with the Russians went un challenged as well. I agree he should have held tough.

  6. The Dums with the help of the press will continue their attacks week after week for the next 4 years. They have nothing else and what they’re doing is just making them look ridiculous. When all is said and done and nothing they accuse the administration is proven what have they accomplished? What the hell has happened to the Democrat party they used to be real genuine American political organization? If Obacala surfaces as the instigator things for the Dums will look even worse.

    I’ll take a bet that pretty soon Wiki releases something embarrassing about the Dums.

  7. These things need to happen:

    1. he recuses himself

    2. the idiots who want to go to war with Russia stop using lies and excuses for their war of destruction on the people and the planet. If someone is making deals with Russia which are illegal (and one can argue that a Podesta or two have done so) then there is a legal method for dealing with those people via the criminal justice system.

    We have a criminal justice system. We do not need to go to war. There is some kind of war sickness afflicting the political class and their cheerleaders. It is madness and there is another way. Take the other way!

    1. Absolutely. It seems to me that the progressives, McCain and Ms. Lindsey are doing war dancing.

      1. Holding the criminals accountable does not translate into war. Trump is involved with the mob.

        1. Uh… you might want to look into what NATO is up to these days. We are probably at the closest point of war since the Cuban missile crisis. You might want to listen and read something other than MSNBC or whatever state-supporting propaganda you listen to these days.

        2. anon,

          In this environment war is always the first and only choice.

          The oligarchy does not want everyone who breaks the law to be held to account. The law is a weapon for them. They will “get” their enemies through its mis/use. Trump, Clintons, Obama and Bush are all war criminals. They aren’t being held to account in a civilian court. Yet that is exactly what should happen.

          Instead, with ordinary Democrats blessing them, two of these war criminals (Obama and H. Clinton) have been chosen to lead “The Resistance”. What a joke! If this was a real resistance, they would be facing criminal charges right along with Bush and Trump.

          Instead, the only solution these war criminals and their lackeys in the Democratic party scream for is—WAR.
          We need a resistance which actually resists. Anything led by war criminals is axiomatically not resistance. The sooner people actually resist, to include the war and financial criminals from their own party, the better.

    2. Nicely said Jill, it clearly shows how morally bankrupt the Democratic party is. With the tanks, missiles, and troops along the frontier, it’s just a matter of time. The bankers want this war, and so do their SJW Democrats. Add to that the cannibals of the McCain, Graham, and Cotton group. I have said many times that Trump has started something, but he won’t be around for the end of it.

      1. Bombs dropping in Yemen and elsewhere last night……Calling out corruption with regards to pay to play does not equal war. BTW, the bankers work for Trump.

        1. Oh right…..and Wall St. bankers funded most of Hillary’s campaign while none of that money went to Trump.

        2. anon,

          You are missing some important realities here. First, this isn’t a case of pay to play. Secondly, the MSM does not call out pay to play even when it’s in plain sight if it’s done by someone they like (See H. Clinton). Thirdly, the bankers work for themselves. They will use anyone for their terrible purposes.

          Finally, the most important part of this whole thing is, there is a bunch of stuff being made up in order to get that wonderful war with Russia. You don’t hear screams for the use of the criminal justice system. You hear, let’s go to war with Russia. I don’t understand how you can miss these war cries. They surround us and our society is dripping with blood and full of the screams of the dying.


          Thank you and I thought you made some powerful points in your posts above.

          1. Thank you Jill, it just amazes me how these partisan Democrats just accept that their ideals have no consequences. Or, maybe in Madeleine Albright’s case, and consequences are fine as long as they have their way. It’s preposterous. Russia is not an official enemy (just the deep state). When you realize the banks lost in Russia, everything else makes clear sense.

            Apparently Flynn and Sessions have talked to other government folk as well, but that is not a problem. I’m afraid in the end, the pro war deep state has the upper hand. They would love to remove Trump, because Pence would be the perfect guy for them.

          2. In this case the president owes the banks hundreds of millions of dollars. His taxes need to be released.

          3. You are on a roll, Jill! ++

            Yet I still don’t think Obama, Clinton, et al, really intends a war with Russia, no matter how insanely irresponsible their brinkmanship is. I think the real intention, besides almost drunken military spending for the MIC, is:

            1) Keep European countries and Russia apart (prevent economic alliances)
            2) Regime Change in Russia. Replace Putin with a more Western friendly neoliberal
            3) Asset stripping in Russia by the international finance class. The same pattern being used on Ukraine, giant loans with impossible conditions and subsequent forced purchase of national assets by American and European financial interests.

            Or something fairly close to the above. I think Trump wants largely the same thing, but he believes he can get it with Putin rather than over his dead body. To give him credit, though I have no proof, he may also be aware of just how insanely dangerous the current regime change at any cost gambit is.

            1. Trump wants to increase military spending by 54 billion and cut everything else to shreds.

              1. Agreed that this is senseless and counterproductive, but it has nothing to do with starting a war with Russia. File instead under Trump being his own worst enemy. This move alone will likely guarantee but a 4 year stint. The bigger problem is, will Pelosi be right? Will the utterly corrupt Democrat party be able to get away with doing nothing but “more of the same” simply because Trump so grossly over played his hand?

        3. No, it doesn’t work that way, Trump may end up working for the bankers in the end.

          In this case, calling out fake pay for play does equal war. Since Putin threw out Goldman and talked of going off the dollar reserve, he was next in line for the Hussein, Mubarak, and Gaddaffi treatment. Full court press by the bankster-serving SJW NGOs. Wake up! You people keep making and believing these ridiculous short-sighted arguments, echo them amongst yourselves, and then are completely surprised by events like election day. If you keep thinking that way, you’ll have more big surprises coming.

          1. Oh please,the Goldman foreclosure king Mnuchin is running the US Treasury.

        4. Actually, Trump works for the Bankers. He has had fortunes closed upon. He was at the last chance bank in NYC that loaned him money, they had to sue, he countersued for basically Assumption of Risk. It was Deutsch Bank. After that he has had to go out of the country and he is not primary signer on the notes. The banks want someone responsible to pay in case of default.

    3. Well said. I would replace, “war sickness” with “insane brinkmanship”, because I think the goals are economic as well as political, but you may be right that in some quarters there is an actual war lust.

      1. Also, Jill, from what research I have done, the noise is that Trump is going to try and re-do NAFTA. That may be were he attempts to accomplish what you were talking about yesterday. Of course that doesn’t mean he will not also get behind TISA also when the time comes.

  8. The Pinkos are desperate to weaken Pres. Trump – especially in light of his excellent State of the Union speech; they will grasp any straw, use any tactic to do so.

    But the majority of Americans understand the game.

    Outside of the 30% hard core Pinkos (well represented here in the peanut gallery), Americans are getting tired of the witch hunt.

    Pinkos are like monkeys masturbating – lots of sound and fury – little result.

    1. You are a funny monkey. No one is out to hurt Trump. Trump gives people plenty of ammunition. If you don’t want to take the heat, take responsibility.

  9. Those senate chambers must be getting gassy.

    I have always considered Chuck Schumer scum after watching him chide Randy Weaver in the Senate Hearings, “And the next time you get a subpoena, you going to show up”; after it had already been testified to that the Weaver’s subpoena had a different date that the supposed missed court date and even after Weaver had won a wrongful death suit.

    Schumer and his ilk are engaged in the tactic of “throw enough on the wall and some will stick”. They don’t expect Sessions to resign but it’s just stockpiling ammunition. The greatest spectacle though is the way the American public are being exposed to the rank hypocrisy of these morally bankrupt Liberals.

    1. As I see it Trump is really, really Bankrupt. He cannot afford to pay his bills. The Wall Street banks have sidelined his due dates.

      Now as to morally bankrupt, I think the defending of Trumpt shows that his entire administration is at risk. You can’t defend him on his record so you go straight slamming democrats. Beautiful people you hang with turd blossom.

  10. Turley calls this a “feeding frenzy” but the entire Democrat response since November 8th has been one huge panic attack. This massive $hit sandwich of an administrative state created by the progressives is being dismantled and these folks see the writing on the wall.

    Keep ’em coming!

      1. LOL! I know, I know that’s not what you’re receiving in your news feeds, but YES, really. 🙂

      2. I agree with “Really?” Just saw today that Valerie Jarrett, Obama’s top advisor during his 8 years in the White House, is moving into his rental mansion in DC. Odd? Yes. Why? Because no political activity can legally be conducted out of his post-presidency provided office….soooo…..they are setting up shop in his home to launch the political attacks on Trump and the GOP. O’s community organizing army will be showing up protesting Trump and the GOP everywhere and anywhere every day for the next four years. Eric Holder is on board as well.

      3. Also because Republicans inevitably show themselves to be cowards who fold and always ‘eat their own’ when under fire, while the Democrats always circle the wagons. Just watch the Republicans cave.

  11. Let’s see, Sessions called for Clinton to be Tried and Convicted in the Senate for Lying about a BJ, now Sessions has lied under oath too. How is that for a paragdim shift!

    Now, why wouldn’t he see perjury charges as well as removable from office as a result of his previous statements. Oh, maybe he is not as notable as he things he is. Records speak for themselves.

    1. Sessions didn’t lie under oath. He answered the question actually asked. There’s an actual legal definition for what constitutes lying under oath, or perjury. Prof. Turley included it in his post, and see it flew right over leftist pea brain. Somehow I’m not surprised.

  12. It’s par for the course in politics. Clinton should have simply told everyone to go fu*k themselves. Instead he weaseled and lied; when he didn’t have to. Sessions should be able to do the same. He should recuse himself but resign, no. In this arena, measured by the lying, hating, totally incompetent DDT, the President, this is nothing. It is simply not appropriate for Sessions to resign. He fits the mob perfectly.

  13. I am in the “he should resign” camp.
    He is the new highest law enforcement official in the U.S, and already he is being questioned for obvious misstatements while under oath to the Senate.
    Furthermore, he has a (albeit debated) history for doing this very same thing, one even from a judge condemning his actions as the worst prosecutorial conduct the judge had ever seen.
    He is already carrying a lot of deadweight, now on the eve of his taking on the job, he couldn’t get two steps before he was found lying or at least misrepresenting, his communications with Russian officials.
    This is not the person we want to head the U.S. Justice Department, even if only for appearances of impropriety.

      1. No kidding.

        I personally don’t care if President Trump and his folks “up their game” or not. This stuff will continue until a Democrat is back in the White House. Then everyone’s standards can relax back to Black Baby Jesus Obama levels.

        1. Luckily for Pence he has been kept out of the loop with regards to Russia and will rightly assume the presidency should it come to that.

      2. No one said that or wants that. I want an AG who tells the truth and works for the humans in this country.

          1. I don’t have mental break downs. I oppose government officials who lie or who work against the interests of the people. I opposed both Holer and Lynch. I oppose Sessions.

        1. Then you want what never was and never will be. Our first AG, Edmund Randolph (and one of our best), secured his job by supporting Washington and the other Federalists by convincing “his fellow members of the Virginia political elite that the Constitution they were being asked to ratify in the summer of 1788 would have very limited significance that it was more another league of sovereign states than a consolidated union they would be entering.” They are judged by what they do.

    1. It’s not about Clinton unless she induced Sessions to lie. Why all of the Paparazzi for Clinton, do you really, really admire her? Is that’s what’s going on, you have a crush on her?

  14. He should resign! He said anyone who lies under oath should resign. Time to step up!

        1. It’s not a pivot to ask if your motives are political or principled. It bears on the sincerity of the advocate and hence his credibility.

    1. The question Sen. Franken asked was in the context of discussions about the US election campaign. It wasn’t asked clearly to include all contacts on any matters. Therefore, it is not a lie, but a misunderstanding. It can be cleared up through dialog. But, when Atty. Gen. Sessions says that he didn’t discuss a Russian role in the US election, just accept it at face value. It’s absurd on the face of it that, if the Kremlin were doing a cyberintrusion campaign into the DNC, that they would involve their Ambassodor to the US. That would go against basic rules of compartmentalization in the espionage tradecraft.

      1. Franken didn’t ask Sessions about his meetings. He asked he what he would do as AG about such meetings. Sessions didn’t want to answer that question so he decided to tell a lie to avoid answering the question. He wasn’t rushed or pushed in anyway.

      1. No it isn’t. The Dems are just throwing piles of steaming dung against a wall and hoping something sticks. I think they have cried wolf so many times since Trump first announced his candidacy that nobody except competing groups of partisans are really listening to them anymore.

        I am sure not Russian to judgement.

        Squeeky Fromm
        Girl Reporter

        1. In this case, it’s a #NeverTrump hackette on Jeff Bezos’ payroll throwing the dung.

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