U.S. Senator Al Franken (D-MN) said last night he could reach no other conclusion than Trump attorney general Jeff Sessions committed perjury when he falsely stated under other that he had not communicated with Russian officials during the 2016 campaign.
Franken, who asked the questions that led to Sessions' false statement in a confirmation hearing, raised the perjury issue in interviews with CNN and MSNBC. In both interviews, Franken noted that Sessions (a former U.S. senator from Alabama) on Monday had filed a letter and supplemental answer to Congress, stating that his oral statement to Franken was "correct."
Franken called Sessions' letter "ridiculous" and "absurd." From an interview with CNN's Jake Tapper (see full interview at top of this post):
That's a ridiculous response. It's not a clarification at all. . . . He answered a question that he asked himself . . . and he answered it falsely.
I've been cutting him a lot of slack, refusing to say he lied, I wanted to wait for this letter to come out. It's hard to come to any other conclusion but he perjured himself. . . .
I think he should come before the committee and explain it. No one asked him about the Russian ambassador; he's the one who volunteered that information, that he didn't speak to anybody, and it turned out he had met twice with Russian ambassador, once in a private meeting.
He had seven weeks to notify us. This is about Russian government hijacking our election, and whether there was any collusion in that interference with the Trump campaign. . . .
It's very clear I did not push [Sessions] into saying, "I didn't meet with the Russians."
In his amendment letter to Congress, Sessions said he answered the Franken question "honestly." In an interview with MSNBC's Lawrence O'Donnell, Franken wasn't buying it (Full interview is at end of this post):
Democrats on the committee asked why he didn't, in seven weeks after he misled us there, why he didn't correct it, and the response was absurd. He said, "Having considered my answer responsive and no one having suggested otherwise, there was no need for a supplemental answer. . . ."
This is serious stuff. He is the second administration official who has lied about contact with the Russians, and it all goes to the fact Russians interfered with our elections. And the question is: Did the Trump campaign and its people collude with Russians?
What do Russians have on Trump? Why does he say all of these positive things about Putin? Why lie about taxes. Getting more and more disturbing all the time.
Franken first came to widespread public notice as a comedian. But he sees nothing funny about the evolving KremlinGate scandal:
I don't think it was gotcha question. Would you recuse yourself was basically what I was asking. Instead, he said he hadn't met with Russians, and of course, he had.
I think clear it's that something is desperately wrong.
The letter just sort of insults the intelligence in a way that is mind-boggling. That's why I say there is no other conclusion but that he committed perjury.
I would like him to come testify before the committee so he can explain it. This letter is ridiculous and insults the intelligence. . . . This is getting stranger and stranger. The clock is ticking. Was Trump campaign colluding to change our election?