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

(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. This is the most contrived of accusations. His original answer should stand on its own. As a “surrogate” of Trump during the course of this campaign, he did not have communications with the Russians. The problem is not with Sessions’ answer, it is with Franken’s question. Sessions had no obligation to fill in the blanks Franken left dangling…”have you ever had communications with the Russians either as a “surrogate” of the campaign or in the course of your duties and responsibilities as Senator? That would have been a great follow up question by one of the Republicans on the panel.

    1. He had already lied when he filled out the Senate Vetting papers.

      1. Just as with a change in finances, Sessions knew he had a continued obligation to update the Senate.

  2. Franken was struggling for relevance and he found it with the DFL in MN. Franken would drum up anything to get attention. He most certainly crafted his questions for a “gotta” moment with Sessions. Franken is a short, unethical, lying little man who would have amounted to nothing save for his overacting on SLN. Franken needs to manipulate his environment because his presence is obnoxious. I’m speaking from personal experience.

    He’s manipulating the situation to get attention. He knew full well he needed to do that prior to his integration of Sessions. He’s coming up for reelection. There will be more coming.

    If you believe him to be an honest broker, you’re naive or you’re not paying attention.

    He’s also an elitist in Minnesota terms. So willing to “pay more for a better Minnesota”. Code for willing to pay more and gerrymander the state to keep the riffraff out of your neighborhood. This type of racism oozes out of the DFLers in this state and it takes on different forms: See Keith Ellison.

    Minnesota politicians are only recognized names to the causal observers in MN. Dayton’s department stores, Jesse the Body Ventura and now it’s the “me” Al Franken decade. Amy’s only a legacy. God forbid Jessica Lange or Winona Ryder get the political bug. Don’t take Minnesotan politicians seriously. It pains me to say this, but Wellstone was the most honest and sincere of any DFL member albeit he still possessed the racism of low expectations..

      1. Next up,

        Will he slander the great Minnesotian Garrison Keillor?

        1. Maybe, Keillor is no fan of Trump but maybe his script did not say that. LOL.

        2. Wonder why he called Amy Klobuchar a legacy. Maybe he did not like her questions of Sessions, either. Her dad worked for a newspaper.Guess that makes one a legacy.

        3. No need to slander. Just reciting the man’s marital and domestic history does damage to his reputation. Some tidbits from his sidelong political commentary over the years does more damage.

    1. Your hit job on Franken was filled with false information. He is not coming up for re-election until 2020.

      1. Joe – if Franken is not up for re-election until 2020, then he can be an idiot until 2018.

        1. And some don’t play idiot. I am glad you know the difference.

  3. It was perjury, clear and simple. “I didn’t have — did not have communications with the Russians.” This is nothing different than the old, “A hummer does not constitute having sexual relations.” A lie is a lie is a lie. The two problems here are that of the legal eagles and their flexible, one size fits all, legal speak, and the followers of DDT have been conditioned to the unrelenting lying by the Buffoon in Chief and his minions, from the get go, that any lie defended by their side will never be seen as a lie. Of course any campaign promise unfulfilled by the Democrats is an unmitigated lie. Hypocrites. Sessions lied, perjured himself, messed his pants, how ever you want to put it. Getting away with it sets the bar line even lower.

    1. issac – it was the correct answer to a rather confusing question.

      1. Paul

        ‘Correct’ only if nobody calls you on it. It was a lie. “did not have” means one thing and what he actually did was 180 degrees in the opposite direction. Unless you are a lawyer and can say anything you want and then obscure the situation later. Sessions lied. Whether or not he should have recused himself or should step down is another issue. Given the lies of DDT, Sessions is a choir boy. So what we have here is a blog full of right wing lawyers and lawyer wannabes who self gratify in the murky areas controlled by legal speak. Sessions did not tell the truth. He lied. Period.

        The Clintons lied, Reagan lied, DDT lies way more often than not. Call it whatever you want. A lie is a lie.

        1. issac – the key is the question was so confusing any answer might have been a problem, however, his answer was correct given the awkward construction of the question.

            1. JWBurdick – lying to Congress in Congress’ problem, not the FBI.

              1. Paul Schulte…
                – JBurdick said that Sessions lied to the FBI in what he called a “1001 violation”.
                ( His comment timestamped 10:20 AM).
                He may have missed my question (11:27 AM) asking him to review and reveal what he says
                were lies to the FBI.
                I haven’t been able to find anythingabout Sessions/ FBI/ Lying to FBI.
                I don’t even know what a “1001 violation is.
                Given that Mr. Burdick worked with the DOJ on prosecutions, I was hoping he’d supply an answer to my previous question.

                1. Actually I work against the DOJ. As to the matter of his lying to the FBI, that came from several media reports I read and saw on network and cable shows. I understood from these reports that he was asked about that by the FBI and said pretty much what he said to the Committee. Can I lay my hands to it? No.

                  1. Jw Burdick,
                    That’s right, you said you “were involved in” DOJ cases of perjury, not that you worked with them.
                    Absent some documentation/ sources, I have to take the allegation that Sessions lied to the FBI with a grain,of salt.

  4. You folks forget that Sessions was asked in written questions as well as the hearing that he in my opinion committed continued perjury.

    1. Sessions first meeting with the Russian ambassador was arranged by Pres. Obama and the education dept.
      The Russian ambassador is like a travel nome, he pops up everywhere.
      But let’s talk about John Podesta brother taking a bribe from a Russian bank and a monthly retainer, to remove the sanctions on Russia.
      Maybe we can find out what payback was given when Russia donated the large amount to the Clinton foundation, and whenever your ready lets talk Clinton- Russia- Uranium.

        1. Anon…
          – The article in the link you provided mentions Trump’s better than expected address to Congress, and that the news all changed the next day ( actually, about 12 hours after Trump’s speech) with the Washington Post story about Jeff Sessions’ meetings with the Russian ambassador.
          That news about Sessions’ Jan. 10 answer to Sen. Granken’s question “just happened” to break on March 1st, within hours of Trump’s address to Congress.
          I think that Sen. Franken, Sen. Schumer, Rep. Pelosi and others have already got all the mileage they’re going to get out of that Jan. 10th exchange with Jeff Sessions.
          I think it would be a mistake for Franken and the rest to pursue this, but it would be interesting to see what would happen if there were additional Congressional investigations about Sessions’ Jan. 10th statement.

          1. Anon…
            – Meant to thank you for the link to the article by John Schindler.
            I hadn’t heard anything about Schindler since he resigned from the Naval War College 2-3 years ago.
            Didn’t get as much press as the Anthony Weiner case, but Schindler was involved in his own “weinergate” issues.

  5. Sessions has a dual loyalty to consider. 1, he is now the Attorney General and 2) he was a senator when the impeachment happened in the house and voted to have Clinton tried by the senate.

    Why? Because Clinton lied about a oral sex. Sessions claimed that was perjury. How now can sessions not think that the same standard applies to him?

    1. websterisback – a couple of judges ruled that Clinton lied under oath and took his law licence away.

      1. Paul,

        Get your facts straight. One, he was under oath, just as sessions. Two, it’s an administrative hearing that revokes or suspends licenses. Three I think you have brought up a good point, Sessions should lose his law license as well. Thank you.

  6. Sessions long history of racism and misguided thinking should disqualify him from serving as Attorney General. As to speaking with Russian diplomats……that’s what I want my elected and appointed officials to do — diplomacy on every level domestically and internationally, unlike Reagan’s shenanigans in the Iran-Contra affair, which were obviously self-serving and highly destructive.

    1. Long history of racism?
      When is the media going to dethrone senator Robert Byrd?
      One of Mrs. Clinton’s favorite mentors.

    2. Whenever a leftoid accuses someone of ‘racism/, it’s safe to ignore whatever else he says. Another time, another place, we may have a political culture wherein discourse is not dominated by people of little sense impugning the motives and character of people who are better than they are. We do not live in such times as we speak.

  7. Comedian who got himself elected to office via vote fraud questions a better man’s integrity.

  8. Al and Jeff, sittin in a tree.
    K i s s i n g.
    first came love.
    Then came marriage/
    Then came Franken with a baby carriage.

  9. I’ve learned not to take legal advice from comedians. Wonder what his opinion is on Nernst’s Third Law of thermal dynamics?

    1. Then you definitely wouldn’t accept legal advice from an orange reality-TV star either, right?

  10. I didn’t think it was perjury the first time, and I don’t think Franken is qualified to decide what perjury is.

  11. The Democrats are at it again. So damn predictable. If a Democrat politician accuses a Republican of doing a bad thing, it is because that Democrat knows that such has been done by the Democrats already and so expect the Republicans to do likewise.

    There is no ‘there’ there. Even if it was the Russians who revealed the Podesta emails, that does not matter. Let’s try that again. The source of accurate information doesn’t matter. “Russians! Russians! Russians! Commies!” is a smokescreen to distract from Podesta’s emails which indicate, strongly, that the DNC is filled with people who practice Al-taqiyya. (A lie in defense of Islam — Al-taqiyya — is approved by the Koran.)

  12. There must be a lot of nuance in Sessions’ written follow-up of “No.” One would think he could have clarified then, as he tries miserably to do so now.

    And comparisons with Clapper (who likely perjured) are irrelevant; Sessions is a case unto himself. Should everyone get a pass because the ball was dropped in the past?

    1. Dave 137…
      Sessions’ written “NO” reply was to the writen question submitted by Sen. Leahy.
      It was a clear, specific question, and and a clear specific answer.
      It specifically asked if Sessions had contact with the Russians about campaign matters before the election.

      1. Correction…
        – Leahy’s questions asked “Have you been in contact with any part of the Russian government about the 2016 election, either before or after election day?”
        LEAHY ‘-“No”
        Leahy’s question asks about contacts before AND after Nov. 8……….I thought he asked only about contacts leading up to the Nov.8 election.
        8 election.

  13. As JT said, Sessions “should have sent in a letter of clarification right after the hearing.”
    That hearing was on Jan. 10th. I don’t know if Sessions anticipated that the (inaccurate) statement that. “he did not have contact with the Russians” would become a major issue 7 weeks later.
    Given the context of Srn. Franken’s question, I think it’s a real stretch to claim that Sessions committed perjury.
    Trump’s Feb. 28 address to Congress was better than anticipated.
    The Jan. 10 Sessions testimony swamped the headlines the following day, on March 1.
    If Sessions is to testify before Congress again, as Franken recommended, then Franken should be called to testify as well.
    We might find out when Franken or his staff realized Sessions had a meeting with the Russian ambassador.
    Or if Franken requested clarification from Sessions.
    And if Franken learned shortly after the Jan. 10 testimony about that meeting, why did he wait until March 1 to “break” the story?

  14. “Does the NSA collect any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans?” Clapper responded, “No, sir. … Not wittingly.”

    Contrary to the professor, I would think that No” was the right answer. Millions of Americans? Hundreds of millions? Surely not.

    1. Except we do know now that NSA collects metadata on millions or hundreds of millions of American’s cell phone calls. So, “No” was not the right answer, Mr. Ben Hyatt!

    2. Perhaps you are factually challenged. The NSA collided metadata on virtually every cell phone call made in the U.S. I am pretty sure that would make the number millions or hundreds of millions.

  15. A complete waste of time

    I can’t help but being reminded of a Saturday Night Live skit, the Franken & Davis Show, where Franken dresses as a Hare Krishna….

    Al Franken: And I know all of you are miserable, uh, because of that. And I want you to… try to get in touch with your spiritual self, so you can feel some joy instead of that misery… that you all feel. Now, I want you to chant these words. I’ll say them, and then, after I’m done, please repeat with me: “Hare Krishna… Hare Krishna… Krishna Krishna… Hare Hare! Hare Rama… Hare Rama… Rama Rama… Krishna Krishna!” Okay? Everybody! “Hare Kri –” Come on, everybody!

    [ Tom leans in, pulls Al’s ponytail back and snips it off with a pair of scissors ]

    [ the audience applauds wildly ]

  16. So what do we have ..

    Franken a hard core left wing extremist who operates undere a pollitical philosophy that openly states “Anything said that advances the party ‘is the truth’ at the moment it’ said and may be a different turth tomorrow.”

    A reference to CNN as a source.

    “This story has been updated to include new information.”

    (CNN)Classified documents presented last week to President Obama and President-elect Trump included allegations that Russian operatives claim to have compromising personal and financial information about Mr. Trump, multiple US officials with direct knowledge of the briefings tell CNN.

    The allegations were presented in a two-page synopsis that was appended to a report on Russian interference in the 2016 election. The allegations came, in part, from memos compiled by a former British intelligence operative, whose past work US intelligence officials consider credible. The FBI is investigating the credibility and accuracy of these allegations, which are based primarily on information from Russian sources, but has not confirmed many essential details in the memos about Mr. Trump.

    The classified briefings last week were presented by four of the senior-most US intelligence chiefs — Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, FBI Director James Comey, CIA Director John Brennan, and NSA Director Admiral Mike Rogers.

    Hardly compelling evidence of anything… except that US intellegence security has been breached once again allegedly by USA sources with yet more felonies being committed by the (Whomever) leaker in collusion with and admitted by CNN

    So my first question is of those who attended the meeting who is guilty of espionage and at what point does it become a RICO situation/.

    ‘claim to have’ is not factual evidence nor is anytning presented by the propaganda organs of the left wing fascists

    The questions are

    presented by and who who was knowledgeable on their staffs.

    presdented to whom and their staffs.

    what is National Security Agency doing or are they commenting at all and why were they not at least approached for commenta long with FBI and others?

    Beyond that it’s not even serving as a useful tool to derail work on the business of the nation, health care, the upcoming budget, and a number of other important issues.

    At least it shouldn’t be.

    After all it isn’t like Franken who toadies for Pelosillyni and Comrade Chuckie have any real power other than having the Clinton Nonews Network shilling for them

    On examination without evidence it’s got less smoke and more mirrors than a Democrat budget.

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