Tags: jeff sessions | perjury | russia | meeting

Sessions Could Face Legal Woes, Even if he Didn't Commit Perjury

Image: Sessions Could Face Legal Woes, Even if he Didn't Commit Perjury

 Attorney Gen. Jeff Sessions (AP Images)

By    |   Friday, 03 Mar 2017 09:09 AM

Attorney General Jeff Sessions could still face legal problems for failing to disclose he met with the Russian ambassador during the presidential campaign – even if he didn't commit perjury during his confirmation hearings, Politico is reporting.

Richard Painter, the top ethics lawyer for former President George W. Bush, has called for Sessions to step down and noted there could be some legal woes ahead for the attorney general.

"I don't think he can continue as attorney general," Painter told CNN. "I don't think he was truthful with the Senate. He did not provide full and complete information."

At issue is Session's testimony during his confirmation hearings.

"It is, at best, very misleading testimony," Painter continued. "I don't go so far as to say that it's perjury, but there is a lesser charge of failing to provide accurate information to Congress."

He added that, "A nominee at a confirmation hearing has an obligation to provide full and complete information to Congress.

"Conduct that might be just short of perjury in a deposition in a typical civil case is entirely inappropriate in front of Congress."

During the confirmation hearings, Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., asked Sessions "if there is any evidence that anyone affiliated with the Trump campaign communicated with the Russian government in the course of the campaign, what will you do."

Sessions answered that he was "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."

In a written question, Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., asked the attorney general if he had "been in contact with anyone connected to any part of the Russian government about the 2016 election, either before or after election day?"

Sessions answered: "No."

However, Sessions now maintains he had no intention of deceiving the committee, but could not rule out the possibility election-related matters were discussed during his September meeting with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, according to Politico.

Experts question whether Sessions could face the more perjury charge as a result of his testimony during the confirmation hearings.

"He wasn't asked directly about his own contacts, so he could say that his answer wasn't material because that wasn't really what the question was about," Paul Butler, a former federal prosecutor told The Washington Post. "In fact, he could say if they really wanted to know that, they could have asked that."

And former House Counsel Stand Brand, who worked for the Democrats, is quoted by Politico as saying: "Perjury is very hard to prove. You have to prove two elements that are very difficult in the Congressional context: one is intent and two is an absolutely clear and unambiguous question."

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Attorney General Jeff Sessions could still face legal problems for failing to disclose he met with the Russian ambassador during the presidential campaign - even if he didn't commit perjury during his confirmation hearings, Politico is reporting.
jeff sessions, perjury, russia, meeting
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2017-09-03
Friday, 03 Mar 2017 09:09 AM
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