Sen. Al Franken Accuses Sessions Of Perjury

Sen. Al Franken

jeff_sessions_official_portraitWhile most Democratic senators have been somewhat circumspect in characterizing the testimony of Attorney General Jeff Sessions as “inaccurate” or “misleading,” Minnesota Sen. Al Franken yesterday publicly accused Franken of perjury.  It is a weighty charge that I have previously said would be highly difficult to actually prosecute.

Franken made the public accusation on CNN’s “The Lead” with Jake Tapper: “It’s hard to come to any other conclusion than he just perjured himself.”

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 transcripted exchange:

Franken:CNN just published a story alleging that the intelligence community provided documents to the president-elect last week that included information that quote, ‘Russian operatives claimed to have compromising personal and financial information about Mr. Trump.’ These documents also allegedly say quote, ‘There was a continuing exchange of information during the campaign between Trump’s surrogates and intermediaries for the Russian government.’

“Now, 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 didn’t have — did not have communications with the Russians, and I’m unable to comment on it.”

Even Franken admits that Sessions went beyond the question, which did not specifically ask about his ties.  He did answer the question with the inevitable response for anyone assuming such an office: he cannot comment on what he would do if presented with evidence of collusion. He went beyond the question to answer what he said later was a response to the reference to campaign discussions with Russians.

As I stated earlier, he should have recused himself earlier than he did.  He also should have sent in a letter of clarification right after the hearing.  Better yet, if he wanted to discuss his own interactions with the Russians, he should have mentioned with brief meetings in the context of the answer.  However, none of that makes for a perjury case.  The two meetings with the Russians were disclosed by the Justice Department and Sessions did ultimately send a later that (1) again confirmed the meetings to correct the record and (2) to offer his explanation.

Here is the language of the perjury provision:

18 U.S. Code § 1621 – Perjury generally

Whoever—
(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.

I fail to see the evidence of intent in answering a rather rambling question followed by a correction.

 

Franken insisted that Sessions’ explanation was “a ridiculous response. It’s not a clarification at all.”

220px-James_R._Clapper_official_portraitIt is  a curious position to take given the earlier controversies of Obama officials accused of giving misleading testimony without such calls for perjury charges from the Democratic members.  For example, Sen Franken did not call for a perjury charge against former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper.  As we discussed earlier, when Clapper appeared before the Senate, he was asked directly, “Does the NSA collect any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans?” Clapper responded, “No, sir. … Not wittingly.”

We now know that was not true. Later, Clapper admitted to giving a false answer to Congress but explained that his testimony was “the least untruthful” statement he could make. Yet, of course, that would still make it an untrue statement — which most people call a lie and lawyers call perjury.  Yet, neither Franken nor his colleagues accused Clapper of perjury and called for his indictment.  That was a direct question about the most massive surveillance program in the history of this country.  He gave a direct answer that was untrue and later offered exceptionally weak explanations.

Again, I understand the objections to the Sessions’ testimony and I share the view that this controversy was not handled properly.  However, there is still a line between what is negligent and what is criminal.  This is an instance of the former rather than the latter.

127 thoughts on “Sen. Al Franken Accuses Sessions Of Perjury

  1. As a native Minnesotan, I am thoroughly disgusted with this guy. Since I do not live there anymore, I cannot vote for his opponent or I would. This guy was a comedian that was NOT funny! Now he is just showing his bare backside and his geranium in his cranium!

    • beakie, I recently moved from Wisconsin to the Twin Cities, so this clown is now my Senator. He is a very nasty, smug, little, man. The people who worked w/ him on SNL despised him. I have a friend who lives in the same condo building as Franken, all his neighbors hate him. But, these “qualities” make him the perfect liberal.

      Proving perjury is tough. I would analogize it w/ proving arson for profit. We proved an arson case criminally when the arsonist showed up to the ER w/ 2nd and 3rd degree burns. You need something similar to prove perjury. In this case, it’s not even close to perjury. WTF does Al Franken know about the law. He was just a bad comedian. During the SNL glory days, the Franken and Davis skit was shen you went to get something to eat or take a piss.

      • My liberal sister lives in St Paul. We don’t speak much. She, like Obama, thinks she’s the smartest person in the room. Lucky you. I love the twin cities but can’t take the weather in the winter. Both sister and my brother live in MN. I hated Franken on SNL. He was a comedian in his own mind. He’s a joke in congress. A more bumbling idiot, I have not seen.
        Did you MPLS has more theatre per capita than NYC? It’s a great place to live.

        • I grew up in Minneapolis and I have a sister that has told me she is a socialist. Not surprisingly she graduated U/W Madison and still lives near that city. We didn’t speak for 2 years and then agreed to no longer talk politics. How we ended up polar opposites politically is clearly explained by the environment she and I had around us as adults; her there and me in the Navy in San Diego.

          • I was a liberal out of college. When 9/11 happened, I was floored! I couldn’t believe America wasn’t loved all over the world. Then I took off my “rose-colored” glasses and grew up. She used to think me an ally, and I was. She was floored when I voted for Bush for a second term……….lol

  2. What has collectively happened to the dems since the primaries is just freaking nuts. I have always liked and supported Senators Franken and Warren, but they have both eaten their crazy flakes. The arrogance, the disregard for dialogue or polemic, even just common sense or courtesy – it’s crazy. It’s also ironic: though they seem to have proclaimed themselves not just American royalty, but American dieties, they act as though our silly POTUS is the king of Olympus. He isn’t. Neither are they. The fear and double-speak, the double-crossing – it just makes them look petulant and afraid, not to mention a little more than manaical and fascist (their favorite invective, because of course they know best, you silly human). When this happened to Charlie Sheen we called it a meltdown.

    • Elizabeth Warren angered many of us small business owners when she made her “you didn’t build that speech.”

      She reminds me of those employees who think that the owner is some rich guy who lives under a magic money tree, taking advantage of all his workers. When the reality is that business owner pays work comp, licenses, permits, huge taxes, health insurance premiums, takes home a tiny fraction of what the business makes, and he probably almost lost his shirt getting his business off the ground.

  3. It sure sounded to me like grounds for a perjury charge, if the oath he took required the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Sessions said he didn’t have communications with the Russians when we know he did, including the Russian Ambassador after Obama imposed “hacking” sanctions against Russia on December 29, 2016.

    Clearly, Clapper should have been charged, and so Hillary Clinton should have been. Where was Franken then, other than with his head buried in the sand to protect his party?

    It’s a big game to the elites while they enforce these laws on the little guy.

    • Well, the entire question was asking about whether surrogates colluded with the Russians. I took his answer to be expressly about that.

      His meeting are not secret. They are part of his job, on his schedule, and our government knows about them. I recall when I was being questioned as a witness, I was specifically advised by the prosecuting attorney not to meander, go off topic, or otherwise open up any other lines of questioning. Just answer the question given, and say nothing else. So perhaps I was thinking about that when I read about this kerfuffle.

      They could certainly investigate the charge, but I don’t know that it would go anywhere. He seemed to be answering the charge of collusion. He’s got a pretty good defense. He was asked about collusion with the Trump campaign as a surrogate, and he answered in that context. I agree that the question was meandering and hard to follow the point, and his answer was also vague and could have been taken that he hadn’t met with Russians at all in any capacity, or instead not as a surrogate. Both question and answer did have problems.

      It was right to recuse himself, and right to write the clarification letter, which I agree he should have done earlier.

      But if Hillary got away with “did I wipe it with a cloth” while under subpoena, and Travelgate, etc, and James Clapper gets away with denying that NSA collects data that it does, and the head of the IRS denied that it targeted conservatives, and they all got away with it, but Sessions gets nailed because he did not add the clarifying phrase repeating the question “as a surrogate” then it will be yet another example of the double standard.

      Hillary Clinton gets half a million paid to Bill for a speech, and $144 million to her Foundation from the Russians, and the Russians get 1/5 of all of our uranium, and nothing happens. But by God, if you don’t clarify that you are specifically answering a question and not commenting on stuff no one asked you about (your job outside of the Trump campaign), you should go straight to jail!

      It’s the double standard of the high bar for Republicans, and no bar at all for the Democrats that absolutely galls me. The law should be applied equally, not weaponized against conservatives. I’ll bet if a conservative in the Administration jaywalked, they’d be calling for his incarceration at Gitmo.

      I just want the law to be blind to political party. Whatever consequences a Democrat would have, should be the same for a Republican, and vice versa. And the more the Democrats get away with, the more Republicans will cry foul when the book is thrown at them. It’s a precedent. The law is not just for us peasants who don’t hold office bought and paid for by special interests. We do not have a government ruling class outside of the law…yet.

      • Karen: Sessions doesn’t get the luxury of deciding what he’s answering to. The oath requires the whole truth.

        “His meeting are not secret. They are part of his job, on his schedule, and our government knows about them. I recall when I was being questioned as a witness, I was specifically advised by the prosecuting attorney not to meander, go off topic, or otherwise open up any other lines of questioning. Just answer the question given, and say nothing else. So perhaps I was thinking about that when I read about this kerfuffle. . . . . They could certainly investigate the charge, but I don’t know that it would go anywhere. He seemed to be answering the charge of collusion. He’s got a pretty good defense.

        Remember where you were on October 3, 1996? Mark Fuhrman remembers where he was. “He seemed to be answering the charge of” whether he ever said the N-word in the context of his duties as an LA police homicide detective, not whether he ever said the N-word for his girlfriend while she was writing a crime script. That’s not good enough.

      • By the way, I agree that Hillary Clinton and Clapper should have been (should be) prosecuted. We’ve got a corrupted elite who get gold cards when they become government officials.

  4. Prof: You say “this is certainly not the stuff that a perjury case is made of.” I couldn’t disagree more with you, rare though that may be. Let’s ask ourselves what the DOJ and Mr. Sessions would have done if it had been Hillary Clinton who gave this exact answer to this exact question, and under oath. The question was not even about Sessions – he VOLUNTEERED that he was part of the campaign, and VOLUNTEERED that he’d had NO DISCUSSIONS with the Russian Ambassador. He didn’t qualify it by adding “about the campaign;” no; he clearly and ambiguously claimed there were NO discussions. I have been involved in cases where the DOJ has prosecuted for perjury on a whole lot less than this, and without “tapes” to back them up. Plus he said the same thing to the FBI, and if that isn’t a 1001 violation, tell me what is.

    Best regards.

    • JWB….
      The list of lies Hillary told to Congress was reviewed by Trey Gowdy in his July 6, 2016 exchange with FBI Director Comey.
      The case for perjury in testimony before Congress is much weaker against Sessions than it is for Hillary Clinton.
      You state that you have been involved in “cases where the DOJ has prosecuted for perjury”.
      Do you know how many cases there have been of prosecutions for perjury involving testimony to Congress?
      They are extremely rare.

      • JWBurdick,
        I haven’t seen anything about Jeff Sessions’ statements to the FBI.
        Can you provide a source that covers that?
        Also, what was the “1001 violation” you state that Sessions commited in statements to the FBI?
        I’d appreciate it if you provide some sources on the FBI issues, Thanks.

  5. The joke of this whole thing is it’s all over a preconceived notion by democrats that Americans wanted to continue along the path of a radical presidents idea of what America should be. You continually heard how impossible it was for President Trump to get the votes. Celebrities mocked and laughed, like some here still do that “Trump will never be President”. Well he is and it’s the will of the electorate. So now with the help of the radical press they will try to commit any subversive act to destroy this administration. The cry the Russians caused the loss to Hillary instead Barack Obama, Hillary, Franken, Pelosi, Waters, Ellison, Reed, and all the rest of the radicals in this party caused her loss. Long before Wikileaks’s came along Americans decided they wanted no more. The Democrats have become the most dangerous political organization in America today.

  6. When the Trump cult fails, and it will. I’m sure the same people that voted for Dubya twice and to this day don’t remember even who he was will say its all the Clintons fault. Oh, and that black guy who destroyed this country.

  7. I think DDT is writing his memoirs. Ok, to be honest, he hired a Third Grader to edit. The title of the book is: “How to Lose Friends and Influence Enemies.”

  8. Pretty darn simple. Sessions did not have any communications with the Russians as a surrogate for the Trump campaign.

    Just because Sessions helped Trump, does not mean that he is a surrogate for Trump in every thing that he does. For example, if Sessions is rolling in the hay with Mrs. Sessions, is he a surrogate for Trump? Does Mrs. Sessions holler out, “Ohhhh! Faster and harder Mr. President! Ohhhh!” ???

    No, I doubt it. Similarly, Sessions has a life outside of being a “surrogate” for Trump even as Attorney General. At the relevant times, he was a U.S. Senator. Was Schumer, a Hillary supporter, automatically a surrogate for her when he met with the Russians, or Pelosi? Of course not, and neither was Sessions.

    This entire issue is absurd. Simply partisan hack political smearing by the Democrats.

    Squeeky Fromm
    Girl Reporter

    • Excuse me, but I heard his testimony 3 or 4 times and he self-identified as a Trump campaign surrogate, under oath, and in answer to Sen. Franken’s question. You can find the clip all over the Internet.

      • JW Burdick…
        – Since you may have missed my question to you a couple of hours ago, I’ll repeat it.
        Do you have a source to support your claim that Sessions lied to the FBI.
        Also, what is a “1001 violation” you said Sessions committed?
        Since you say you have been involved in DOJ cases involving perjury, I thought you might be able to answer my questions.

      • JW Burdick…
        Lots of things are “all over the internet”.
        Sessions said ” I have been called a surrogate in that campaign a time or two” in responding to Franken’s question.
        That is different from “self-identifying as a Trump surrogate”.
        Your sources seem to be “all over the internet” or those that you “can’t lay your hands on”.

      • You may have “heard”, but I don’t think you “understand.” A “surrogate” for somebody isn’t a surrogate for them 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 52 weeks a year.

        Even “surrogates” have a life outside of their surrogacy. When Sessions met with the Russkies, it was NOT as a Trump surrogate, but as a Senator.

        Even a stooge and surrogate for Bill and Hillary, like Lanny Davis, isn’t her stooge and surrogate 24 hours a day. Nobody surrogate is. Lanny can represent other interests, including his own, besides the Clintons. When Lanny speaks on behalf of the Clintons, then he is their surrogate. But if he is NOT speaking on behalf of the Clintons, then he is not acting at that time as their surrogate.

        This isn’t a hard concept to understand. Sooo, are you clear now? Do you “get it”???

        Squeeky Fromm
        Girl Reporter

  9. As I read his testimony, he did lie. I don’t know that it is much of a defense for telling a lie that he likely could not be convicted of perjury because of the high burden of proof and elements of the crime. But, here is the highest law enforcement officer who clearly did lie. If the burden of proof were preponderance of the evidence rather than beyond a reasonable doubt, I suspect he would be convicted. And, since the issue of his credibility as the country’s highest law enforcement officer is not an issue of beyond a reasonable doubt but the probability that he did lie, he should resign. And, then, someone should be charged with making the decision as to whether he should be prosecuted. DOJ thankfully has very high standards for that, but if he is prosecuted, the jury can decide. I presume venue would be in the District of Columbia. Now wouldn’t that be interesting? (I do not mean to suggest that he won’t get a fair trial in DC; I do suggest that it would be ironic if a jury consisting significantly of the people he has spent much of his life demeaning sit in judgment on him.)

  10. To think I actually sent this POS(and many other Dems) money back in ’08. I have been running away from the Dems as hard as I can ever since.

  11. Sessions LIED! Plain and simple. The weaklings here can try and blame Franken (who didn’t even ask the question Sessions was stupid enough to answer), but the simple fact is that the US Attorney General is a LIAR. And even his amended testimony avoids the truth.

    I can’t imagine a single American defending Sessions the LIAR. Baffling! But once again Sessions is a LIAR. Clear enough yet! Okay, we all agree Sessions is a LIAR! LIAR! LIAR!

  12. as he obviously did lie about contact with a Russian (it was campaign funded – not senatorial), only one willing to pull the wool over their own eyes would think him not a LIAR.

    Sessions = LIAR

      • it is not about McCaskill or Pelosi……it is all about Sessions = LIAR. Sessions was under oath at his confirmation hearing and he LIED LIED LIED and LIED. And if he was on a senatorial trip the meeting might have been different. But if was acting as a baby trump campaign surrogate…..thus Session = LIAR.

        Look, session may also be the Grand Wizard of Alabama’s KKK. that may possibly be in question. But not in question is that he LIED at his confirmation hearing. But instead of demanding honesty from your putrid heroes, cons whine, and defend their hero LIARS. I believe the baby trump would say SAD, PATHETIC and LOSER.

        btw – the important side issue was the trump interference in only one republican party platform – that being defense of Ukraine. trump appears to be working directly for Putin. Could he be a traitor? I sure wish cons cared more about country instead of party and wanted to investigate from an America first standpoint.

        • Simple question, Bill W.
          I will repeat it for you in a form you may understand:
          WHY DO YOU THINK SEN. MCCASKILL AND REP. PELOSI LIED ABOUT MEETING THE RUSSIAN AMBASSADOR?
          ( Don’t bother with a marathon, bulls*** “answer” that avoids the question)
          I’m not interested in wordy weasel dodges from you).

          • The thread was about Sessions lying at his confirmation hearing whilst under oath. Since you appear to have no similar comparison regarding another confirmation hearing perjured testimony your posts are weak attempts to avoid the scary conclusion that trump and his minions are directly influenced by and seemingly working for putin. Once again, one only has to look at baby trumps only change to the republican party platform – and that was solely to benefit putin/russia.

            btw – how is that trumpcare plan working? what do you think? maybe will kill at least 10,000 Americans….whilst leaving other bankrupt. next we will hear that trumpcare supporters are also pro-life. Another joke/lie

            btw2 – i almost forgot – Sessions = LIAR. just straightforward honesty.

  13. The question that everybody should be asking here:
    Why is Jonathan Turley Failing to Discuss Vault 7 and its Significance?

    The answer is simple. He is protecting the Elite Establishment and their corrupt government agents and tools.

    So, silence about the truth is the next best thing to hoping it goes away.

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