Attorney General Jeff Sessions pushed back Tuesday against accusations that he lied under oath about his knowledge of contacts between the Trump campaign and Russian officials.
Sessions had previously testified in a Senate hearing that he was not aware of any contacts between the Trump campaign and Russians, a claim Democrats said was inconsistent in a Tuesday letter.
“If, as recent reports suggest, you rejected [George] Papadopoulos’s suggestion that President Trump meet with Vladimir Putin at that March 31 meeting — a fact you appear to have remembered only after Mr. Papadopoulos’s account was made public — it seems likely that you were ‘aware’ of communications between the Russian government and surrogates of the Trump campaign,” lawmakers said in the letter.
Papadopoulos was a member of the Trump campaign’s foreign policy advisory team, which was chaired by Sessions. Another member of the advisory team was Carter Page, who told the House Intelligence Committee that he notified Sessions of his intent to give a speech in Moscow where Page met a Russian official. (RELATED: Trump Adviser Proposed Meeting With Russians During Campaign, But Was Shot Down By Sessions)
“My answers have never changed. I have always told the truth, and I have answered every question as I understood them and to the best of my recollection, as I will continue to do today,” Sessions told the House Judiciary Committee Tuesday. “I would like to address recent news reports regarding meetings during the campaign attended by George Papadopoulos and Carter Page, among others. Frankly, I had no recollection of this until I saw these news reports.”
“I do now recall the March 2016 meeting at Trump Hotel that Mr. Papadopoulos attended, but I have no clear recollection of the details of what he said during that meeting. After reading his account, and to the best of my recollection, I believe that I wanted to make clear to him that he was not authorized to represent the campaign with the Russian government, or any other foreign government, for that matter. But I did not recall this event, which occurred 18 months before my testimony of a few weeks ago, and would gladly have reported it.”
Sessions added, “As for Mr. Page, while I do not challenge his recollection, I have no memory of his presence at a dinner at the Capitol Hill Club or any passing conversation he may have had with me as he left.”
The attorney general blamed his lack of a recollection on the hectic schedule of juggling a presidential campaign and his full time schedule as a senator.
“All of you have been in a campaign. But most of you have not participated in a presidential campaign. And none of you had a part in the Trump campaign. It was a brilliant campaign in many ways. But it was a form of chaos every day from day one. We traveled all the time, sometimes to several places in one day. Sleep was in short supply,” Sessions said. “And I was still a full-time senator keeping a very full schedule during this time.”
“I have been asked to remember details from a year ago, such as who I saw on what day, in what meeting, and who said what when. In all of my testimony, I can only do my best to answer all of your questions as I understand them and to the best of my memory. But I will not accept and reject accusations that I have ever lied under oath. That is a lie.”