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Preet Bharara: Sessions 'Shifted' Story on Russian Contacts

Preet Bharara: Sessions 'Shifted' Story on Russian Contacts
Former U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara (Andrew Harnik/AP)

By    |   Wednesday, 18 October 2017 07:51 PM

Former U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said Wednesday that Attorney General Jeff Sessions "has shifted his story somewhat" in testifying to the Senate Judiciary Committee about his Russian contacts during last year's election.

"Some of the things he said in a blanket way have been proven to not be true," Bharara, who served in the Southern District of New York in Manhattan, told CNN's Wolf Blitzer.

"It's hard to prove what is in someone's mind when they later recall they didn't prove something.

"It's hard to prove someone recalled something when they didn't recall something, which is complication in making an assessment of perjury in this or any other circumstance," Bharara said.

Under intense questioning by the Democrats on the Senate panel, Sessions departed from earlier broad denials about his contacts with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak — saying he "did not recall" parts of the conversations, according to news reports.

The attorney general, an Alabama Republican senator at the time, also admitted for the first time he and Kislyak might have discussed President Donald Trump's policy positions.

Bharara, 48, now a CNN senior legal analyst, was fired by President Trump in March after refusing to quit as the administration purged federal prosecutors serving under former President Barack Obama. He had been on the job since 2009.

He told Blitzer that Sessions' defense of Trump's firing of former FBI Director James Comey for his handling of the Hillary Clinton email probe was "bizarre."

"The attorney general decided to stick with the explanation that Jim Comey was fired because of the way he treated Hillary Clinton," he told Blitzer.

"I found that rather bizarre," Bharara said.

"No reasonable person who has seen the news unfold over the last few months has any reason to think that Donald Trump, who made the ultimate decision to fire Jim Comey, had in his mind the mistreatment of Hillary Clinton and the way that he handled the Hillary Clinton investigation.

"In fact, a lot of reasonable people think — at the end of the day — what Jim Comey did with respect to Hillary Clinton gave Donald Trump the election.

"I don't know why Jeff Sessions went that route," Bharara added.

"Maybe, he doesn't like the implications of the other explanation, which is that Donald Trump fired Jim Comey to put an end to the Russia investigation — which is much more consequential, if you think about it."

Bharara also slammed President Trump's personal involvement in selecting U.S. attorneys.

"The president . . . doesn't understand an arm's length relationship between political figures in the White House, including himself, and law enforcement," he told Blitzer.

"There's evidence that he asked Jim Comey to drop the case against [former National Security Adviser] Mike Flynn.

"There's evidence he told Jeff Sessions he should figure out how to drop the case against Joe Arpaio," the retired Arizona sheriff whom Trump pardoned from federal contempt of court charges in August.

"It does not look good for the first president in modern history who has not revealed his tax returns and who has failed to divest money from his portfolio such that there are conflicts of interest . . . to be hand-picking personally and interviewing personally select United States attorneys."

Bharara said "I understand" Trump "personally interviewed the potential applicants for U.S. Attorney in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Washington, D.C."

Trump has properties and companies in those cities, he said.

The president has "not interviewed personally U.S. attorneys for other positions, and I think that reasonably raises a number of questions," Bharara added.

"I never spoke to President Obama at any time in my confirmation process."

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Attorney General Jeff Sessions "has shifted his story somewhat" in testifying to the Senate Judiciary Committee about his Russian contacts during last year's election, former U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said Wednesday on CNN.
attorney general, senate, judiciary, committee
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2017-51-18
Wednesday, 18 October 2017 07:51 PM
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