Friday, July 21, 2017

Intelligence intercepts show Jeff Sessions discussed campaign issues with Russians during 2016 race, indicating he lied to Senate and on security clearance

Sergey Kislyak and Jeff Sessions
A Russian ambassador told his superiors that he discussed campaign and policy issues with Jeff Sessions during the 2016 presidential race, according to a report this evening from The Washington Post. Sergey Kislyak's statements, caught on intelligence intercepts, run contrary to public statements from Sessions, the Trump attorney general and former U.S. Senator from Alabama.

The report adds to the already substantial evidence that Sessions lied during his confirmation hearings before Congress and on his security-clearance application. CNN and The Hill are among major news outlets to pick up on the report this evening.

It also adds to our numerous posts about Sessions' under-handed actions while serving as U.S. attorney and attorney general in Alabama, long before he leaped onto the international stage during the Trump campaign. We've reported extensively on (1) Sessions' use of political prosecutions against Democrats in the Southern District of Alabama; (2) His hiring of a federal judge's nephew to force the judge's recusal, in a case where Session's AG office was accused of gross prosecutorial misconduct; current U.S. Judge R. David Proctor (Northern District of Alabama) assisted in that blatant form of "judge shopping," which has been described by one circuit court as a "breach of ethics"; (3) Sessions' persistent support of U.S. Circuit Judge Bill Pryor, including pushing Trump to appoint Pryor to the U.S. Supreme Court, even though Pryor has nude photographs in his background that appeared at the gay-porn Web site in the 1990s -- and he almost certainly lied about it during his own confirmation process; (4) Reports from a former Alabama law-enforcement official that Sessions was caught on surveillance making frequent late-night visits to Pryor's residence in Montgomery, suggesting the two had a homosexual relationship.

As a journalist and resident of Alabama for 35-plus years, I know of many reports that suggest Sessions has virtually no moral compass, so the latest evidence that he lied to Congress and on security-related documents is a surprise only because it is so brazen and international in scope. From the WaPo report:

Ambassador Sergey Kislyak’s accounts of two conversations with Sessions — then a top foreign policy adviser to Republican candidate Donald Trump — were intercepted by U.S. spy agencies, which monitor the communications of senior Russian officials both in the United States and in Russia. Sessions initially failed to disclose his contacts with Kislyak and then said that the meetings were not about the Trump campaign.

One U.S. official said that Sessions — who testified that he has no recollection of an April encounter — has provided “misleading” statements that are “contradicted by other evidence.” A former official said that the intelligence indicates that Sessions and Kislyak had “substantive” discussions on matters including Trump’s positions on Russia-related issues and prospects for U.S.-Russia relations in a Trump administration.

Sessions has said repeatedly that he never discussed campaign-related issues with Russian officials and that it was only in his capacity as a U.S. senator that he met with Kislyak.

The full implications of the intercept reports is difficult to gauge this evening. But it certainly suggests that America's top law-enforcement officer is a liar of monstrous proportions -- and he is willing to lie about his interactions with representatives for a foreign adversary. From CNN:

Sessions originally never disclosed any interactions he had with Kislyak, but a meeting first came to light in March when the Post reported that he met with Kislyak at an event during the Republican National Convention in Cleveland.

Sessions met with Kislyak for a second time during the presidential campaign, this time in his Senate office in Washington. This meeting, in September, also wasn't publicly known until the Post reported about it in March.

Sessions did not disclose either meeting when he applied for his security clearance. He also did not mention it when he was asked about contact with Russians during his Senate confirmation hearings earlier this year. Sessions denied any campaign-related meetings with Russians at the confirmation hearings, saying, "I did not have communications with the Russians."

That last statement sounds more and more like Bill Clinton's famous claim: "I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Ms. Lewinsky." Republicans for years have howled about the Clinton statement, which was proven to be false. They might not find much amusing in the deepening Sessions quagmire. From The Hill:

One current U.S. intelligence official told the Post that Sessions' remarks about his contacts with Kislyak were “misleading” statements that are “contradicted by other evidence.”

Kislyak, officials told the Post, has a reputation for accurately describing his conversations with U.S. officials to his superiors in Moscow.

The latest news on Sessions is profoundly important, a source tells Legal Schnauzer. "At this point, America's number one law enforcement official is not credible or trustworthy. What does that say about America? The Trump administration?" But it goes beyond that, says our source:

Here's the one link I hope is not missed. And that is, I think that one of the reasons Trump appointed Sessions to be the Attorney General of the United States is his participation in pre-election campaign efforts to get Trump elected which, for Sessions, included his willingness to have contacts with Russian agents and to act in complicity with those agents in working to get Trump elected and to defeat Mrs. Clinton.

Trump rewarded Sessions for his "loyalty" and willingness to use Session's connections with Russians to get Trump elected and Clinton defeated.

Trump rewarded Sessions for his complicity with the Russians. Now that Trump sees that Sessions is going down, he shuns Sessions.


Anonymous said...

Big news on a Friday night. Big trouble for Jeff Sessions.

PJB said...

Hey LS
I have been reading your blog for the past month with quite a bit of interest. Sorry to hear of your continuing troubles with law(?) enforcement but, sadly, that appears to be part of the territory that you have staked out.
Is the system incurable or the effort required to cleanse it anything less than Herculean?
We all have different moral compasses but it is always good to see someone that is willing to fight the good fight.

Anonymous said...

Is it time to Git-R-Dun Sessions Injustice Style?

Matthew Yglesias‏ Verified account @mattyglesias

Look, just because Sessions hasn't actually been convicted of a crime is no reason we can't start seizing his property now.
7:02 PM - 21 Jul 2017 from Washington, DC

One response to the tweet above:

Daniel Lomax‏ @dlomax77
Replying to @mattyglesias @perrymj

What are we possibly going to do with all that Confederate memorabilia?
7:13 PM - 21 Jul 2017

Anonymous said...

Hoist on own petard?

Can the President Be Indicted? A Long-Hidden Legal Memo Says Yes


WASHINGTON — A newfound memo from Kenneth W. Starr’s independent counsel investigation into President Bill Clinton sheds fresh light on a constitutional puzzle that is taking on mounting significance amid the Trump-Russia inquiry: Can a sitting president be indicted?

The 56-page memo, locked in the National Archives for nearly two decades and obtained by The New York Times under the Freedom of Information Act, amounts to the most thorough government-commissioned analysis rejecting a generally held view that presidents are immune from prosecution while in office.

“It is proper, constitutional, and legal for a federal grand jury to indict a sitting president for serious criminal acts that are not part of, and are contrary to, the president’s official duties,” the Starr office memo concludes. “In this country, no one, even President Clinton, is above the law.”

Someone should ask Sessions about this.

On the record.


legalschnauzer said...

@11:33 and @11:23 --

Very interesting articles. Thanks for sharing.

legalschnauzer said...

PJB --

I don't think it's incurable, but we have to take it seriously as a country. That's a major reason I've written this blog for 10 years, to try to let people know just how bad it is -- that it's way worse than most can imagine. You can Google "Operation Greylord" and "Operation Wrinkled Robe" and learn about two DOJ investigations that targeted corrupt judges -- in Chicago and New Orleans, respectively. We need a whole lot of those, in every region of the country, if not every state. A lot of judges, lawyers, clerks, prosecutors, and cops need to go to prison, and we need lots of video of them being arrested, convicted and winding up in orange jump suits. Right now, these people aren't afraid of anything. Actually, they are a little afraid of me, when I stumble onto certain topics, but look at the price Carol and I have paid. As a country, we have an "honor system" run by dishonorable people, and that's a recipe for corruption. We need an AG who knows the system is a sewer and has the integrity and toughness to clean it up. Jeff Sessions is not that guy.

Anonymous said...

Lots of speculation that Trump people leaked this story, in an effort to get rid of Sessions.

legalschnauzer said...

@12:48 --

That wouldn't surprise me at all. It's interesting that the reporters apparently did not get a copy of the intercepts, and it's doubtful the Trumpies would have a copy either. This probably was a "word of mouth" leak. I'd say that's a pretty stupid scheme, if true. But like a lot of sociopaths, Donald Trump greatly overestimates his intelligence and craftiness.

Seems to me Sessions could turn the tables and spill the beans on Trump, hoping to get off lightly by aiding the DOJ that he currently "leads." Could be a case of the snakes attacking each other, as they are prone to do.

Anonymous said...

So now we believe Russians? Good grief. Certainly they have no agenda or reason to take down our entire federal legal system.

legalschnauzer said...

@6:09 --

Do you hear anyone, even Sessions, denying the Russian ambassador's account is true? I don't, so far. Even Trump, in his Tweet storm this morning, didn't deny the truth of the story. He griped, as usual, about leaks.

Anonymous said...

You don't file bankruptcy four times and continue to go back to banks and ask for multi-billon dollar loans. Trump is up to his nose in money owed to Russian Mobs or government officials taking bribes. He expected Sessions to have those sanctions removed (one was). If Trump cannot get those sanctions removed...look for someone close to him to turn up dead. They want their money returned and that is how they expect it to be returned. Congress just increased those sanctions yesterday. Trump will sell us out to keep his wealth

legalschnauzer said...

@9:59 --

Good points. This could get real ugly. Trump has intertwined our government with organized crime. I suspect both the Russians and Trump have the will and the means to have people "eliminated."