Sessions' vulnerability to a Sec. 1001 prosecution first came to light via a complaint to the Alabama State Bar by Boston-area attorney J. Whitfield Larrabee. Before the Larrabee complaint hit the news, many Americans probably thought the main possible charge against Sessions would be perjury (under 18 U.S.C. 1621) -- and some prominent legal analysts, such as George Washington University's Jonathan Turley, pooh-poohed the notion that such a charge could be brought.
I'm not sure Turley is right about that, but even if he is, perjury might not present Sessions' biggest hurdle. That could come from Sec. 1001, as Larrabee explains in his bar complaint:
On March 6, 2017, Sessions submitted a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee supplementing his testimony on January 10, 2017. (Letter from Sessions to Charles E. Grassley, Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, attached hereto as Exhibit “A.”)
Sessions claimed in the letter that his response to [U.S. Sen. Al] Franken, denying any communications with the Russians during the campaign, “was correct.” Rather than acknowledge the falsity of his prior testimony, Sessions willfully and deliberately insisted that his prior false testimony was correct. In doing so, Sessions made an additional material false statement to the Senate Judiciary Committee and attempted to conceal and cover up his prior false testimony and perjury.
This comes under the heading of "The Cover-up Is Worse Than the Crime," and Larrabee asserts that it violates Sec. 1001. How is this for a possible case of irony? More than 10 years later, many Americans likely think Martha Stewart went to prison for insider trading or perjury. But she actually got nailed for lying to government agents. And Sessions, while trying to clarify his perjury before the U.S. Senate, stepped in the same brier patch that ensnared Martha Stewart.
A 2004 article at Graziadio Business Review puts the Stewart case in perspective. Its title is "Businesspersons Beware: Lying Is A Crime":
In recent corporate scandals, some executives have learned the hard way that lying is still a crime in corporate America. Martha Stewart was accused of selling her ImClone stock allegedly after receiving insider information. However, she was not convicted of securities fraud. She was instead convicted for lying. In addition, Computer Associates executives were indicted and some have already pleaded guilty for lying to their own company’s attorney during an internal investigation when their lies were passed on by their attorney to the government. . . .
Lying is a crime because those who lie in a judicial proceeding are destroying the essential fabric of the “rule of law,” which has enabled capitalism to be so successful in the United States. Lying is and must be a crime in a judicial proceeding—and must be enforced against everyone—whether he or she is the President of the United States, the president of a Fortune 500 multinational organization, or the janitor. Stewart’s crime of lying must be viewed not only in terms of how it may have impacted her own company and shareholders, but must also be viewed in light of the potential damage to our entire economy if lying were suddenly to be tolerated in our judicial proceedings. After all, if it is okay for Stewart to lie, then how can we complain about accountants who lie about a company’s financial audits, executives who lie about their company’s sales and revenues, or analysts who lie about their stock recommendations? What then makes us think that anyone will continue to invest their money in the American stock market, which has been the driving force of our brand of successful capitalism during the second half of the 20th century?
Martha Stewart hardly is the only business exec to run afoul of Sec. 1001. So have Bernie Madoff and Jeffrey Skilling, along with political figures Scooter Libby and Rod Blagojevich.
Will we soon be making way for Jeff Sessions?