NORTON META TAG

02 March 2017

Sessions met with Russian envoy twice last year, encounters he later did not disclose & David Cay Johnston: As Jeff Sessions Scandal Brews, We Need a Public Probe of Trump's Ties to Russia 1&2MAR17

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US ag fotze jeff sessions needs to resign. He is guilty of perjury in his testimony to the US Senate Judiciary Committee, that alone should be reason enough, but the fact that his meetings with Russian officials may have also been treasonous demands that he not only resign but that he, and the drumpf/trump-pence campaign and administration be investigated for colluding with the Russians to interfere in the US 2016 presidential election. Consider these damning reports from the +Washington Post and +Democracy Now! and then ask yourself if an administration that conspires with putin's brutal oligharcial dictatorship in Russia to influence the outcome of the 2016 presidential election should be trusted with governing our Democratic Republic. 


Previous Image: screen-shot-2017-03-02-at-8-37-13-US ag fotze jeff sessions needs to resign. He is guilty of perjury in his testimony to the US Senate Judiciary Committee, that alone should be reason enough, but the fact that his meetings with Russian officials may have also been treasonous demands that he not only resign but that he, and the drumpf/trump-pence campaign and administration be investigated for colluding with the Russians to interfere in the US 2016 presidential election. Consider these damning reports from the +Washington Post and +Democracy Now! and then ask yourself if an administration that conspires with putin's brutal oligharcial dictatorship in Russia to influence the outcome of the 2016 presidential election should be trusted with governing our Democratic Republic. 
Sessions met with Russian envoy twice last year, encounters he later did not disclose
Then-Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) spoke twice last year with Russia’s ambassador to the United States, Justice Department officials said, encounters he did not disclose when asked about possible contacts between members of President Trump’s campaign and representatives of Moscow during Sessions’s confirmation hearing to become attorney general.
One of the meetings was a private conversation between Sessions and Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak that took place in September in the senator’s office, at the height of what U.S. intelligence officials say was a Russian cyber campaign to upend the U.S. presidential race.
The previously undisclosed discussions could fuel new congressional calls for the appointment of a special counsel to investigate Russia’s alleged role in the 2016 presidential election. As attorney general, Sessions oversees the Justice Department and the FBI, which have been leading investigations into Russian meddling and any links to Trump’s associates. He has so far resisted calls to recuse himself.
When Sessions spoke with Kislyak in July and September, the senator was a senior member of the influential Armed Services Committee as well as one of Trump’s top foreign policy advisers. Sessions played a prominent role supporting Trump on the stump after formally joining the campaign in February 2016.
At his Jan. 10 Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing, Sessions was asked by Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) what he would do if he learned of any evidence that anyone affiliated with the Trump campaign communicated with the Russian government in the course of the 2016 campaign.
“I’m not aware of any of those activities,” he responded. He added: “I have been called a surrogate at a time or two in that campaign and I did not have communications with the Russians.”
Officials said Sessions did not consider the conversations relevant to the lawmakers’ questions and did not remember in detail what he discussed with Kislyak.
“There was absolutely nothing misleading about his answer,” said Sarah Isgur Flores, Sessions’s spokeswoman.
In January, Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.) asked Sessions for answers to written questions. “Several of the President-elect’s nominees or senior advisers have Russian ties. Have you been in contact with anyone connected to any part of the Russian government about the 2016 election, either before or after election day?” Leahy wrote.
Sessions responded with one word: “No.”
In a statement issued Wednesday night, Sessions said he “never met with any Russian officials to discuss issues of the campaign. I have no idea what this allegation is about. It is false.”
Justice officials said Sessions met with Kislyak on Sept. 8 in his capacity as a member of the armed services panel rather than in his role as a Trump campaign surrogate.
“He was asked during the hearing about communications between Russia and the Trump campaign — not about meetings he took as a senator and a member of the Armed Services Committee,” Flores said.
She added that Sessions last year had more than 25 conversations with foreign ambassadors as a senior member of the Armed Services Committee, including the British, Korean, Japanese, Polish, Indian, Chinese, Canadian, Australian and German ambassadors, in addition to Kislyak.
In the case of the September meeting, one department official who came to the defense of the attorney general said, “There’s just not strong recollection of what was said.”
The Russian ambassador did not respond to requests for comment about his contacts with Sessions.
The Washington Post contacted all 26 members of the 2016 Senate Armed Services Committee to see whether any lawmakers besides Sessions met with Kislyak in 2016. Of the 20 lawmakers who responded, every senator, including Chairman John McCain (R-Ariz.), said they did not meet with the Russian ambassador last year. The other lawmakers on the panel did not respond as of Wednesday evening.
“Members of the committee have not been beating a path to Kislyak’s door,” a senior Senate Armed Services Committee staffer said, citing tensions in relations with Moscow. Besides Sessions, the staffer added, “There haven’t been a ton of members who are looking to meet with Kislyak for their committee duties.”
Last month, The Post reported that Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn had discussed U.S. sanctions with Kislyak during the month before Trump took office, contrary to public assertions by Mike Pence, the vice president-elect, and other top Trump officials. Flynn was forced to resign the following week.
When asked to comment on Sessions’s contacts with Kislyak, Franken said in a statement to The Post on Wednesday: “If it’s true that Attorney General Sessions met with the Russian ambassador in the midst of the campaign, then I am very troubled that his response to my questioning during his confirmation hearing was, at best, misleading.”
Franken added: “It is now clearer than ever that the attorney general cannot, in good faith, oversee an investigation at the Department of Justice and the FBI of the Trump-Russia connection, and he must recuse himself immediately.”
Several Democratic members of the House on Wednesday night called on Sessions to resign from his post.
“After lying under oath to Congress about his own communications with the Russians, the Attorney General must resign,” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said in a statement, adding that “Sessions is not fit to serve as the top law enforcement officer of our country.”
Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), a senior member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said on Twitter late Wednesday that “we need a special counsel to investigate Trump associates’ ties to Russia.”
Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) said at a CNN town hall Wednesday night that if the substance of Sessions’s conversations with the Russian ambassador proved to be improper or suspect, he too would join the call for Sessions to recuse himself from the investigation.
“If there is something there and it goes up the chain of investigation, it is clear to me that Jeff Sessions, who is my dear friend, cannot make that decision about Trump,” Graham said — although he stressed that Sessions’s contacts with the Russian ambassador could have been “innocent.”
“But if there’s something there that the FBI thinks is criminal in nature, then for sure you need a special prosecutor. If that day ever comes, I’ll be the first one to say it needs to be somebody other than Jeff.”
Current and former U.S. officials say they see Kislyak as a diplomat, not an intelligence operative. But they were not sure to what extent, if any, Kislyak was aware of or involved in the covert Russian election campaign.
Steven Hall, former head of Russia operations at the CIA, said that Russia would have been keenly interested in cultivating a relationship with Sessions because of his role on key congressional committees and as an early adviser to Trump.
Sessions’s membership on the Armed Services Committee would have made him a priority for the Russian ambassador. “The fact that he had already placed himself at least ideologically behind Trump would have been an added bonus for Kislyak,” Hall said.
Michael McFaul, a Stanford University professor who until 2014 served as U.S. ambassador to Russia, said he was not surprised that Kislyak would seek a meeting with Sessions. “The weird part is to conceal it,” he said. “That was at the height of all the discussions of what Russia was doing during the election.”
Two months before the September meeting, Sessions attended a Heritage Foundation event in July on the sidelines of the Republican National Convention that was attended by about 50 ambassadors. When the event was over, a small group of ambassadors approached Sessions as he was leaving the podium, and Kislyak was among them, the Justice Department official said.
Sessions then spoke individually to some of the ambassadors, including Kislyak, the official said. In the informal exchanges, the ambassadors expressed appreciation for his remarks and some of them invited him to events they were sponsoring, said the official, citing a former Sessions staffer who was at the event.
Democratic lawmakers, including senior members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, have demanded in recent weeks that Sessions recuse himself from the government’s inquiry into possible ties between Trump associates and Russia.
Last week, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), a senior member of the House Judiciary Committee, became one of the few Republican representatives to state publicly the need for an independent investigation.
Sessions’s public position on Russia has evolved over time.
In an interview with RealClear World on the sidelines of the German Marshall Fund’s Brussels Forum in March 2015, Sessions said the United States and Europe “have to unify” against Russia.
More than a year later, he spoke about fostering a stronger relationship with the Kremlin. In a July 2016 interview with CNN’s “State of the Union,” Sessions praised Trump’s plan to build better relations with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“Donald Trump is right. We need to figure out a way to end this cycle of hostility that’s putting this country at risk, costing us billions of dollars in defense, and creating hostilities,” Sessions told CNN.
Asked whether he viewed Putin as a good or bad leader, Sessions told CNN: “We have a lot of bad leaders around the world that operate in ways we would never tolerate in the United States. But the question is, can we have a more peaceful, effective relationship with Russia? Utilizing interests that are similar in a realistic way to make this world a safer place and get off this dangerous hostility with Russia? I think it’s possible.”
Julie Tate, Robert Costa and Karoun Demirjian contributed to this report.
Adam Entous writes about national security, foreign policy and intelligence for The Post. He joined the newspaper in 2016 after more than 20 years with The Wall Street Journal and Reuters, where he covered the Pentagon, the CIA, the White House and Congress. He covered President George W. Bush for five years after the September 11, 2001, attacks.
Ellen Nakashima is a national security reporter for The Washington Post. She focuses on issues relating to intelligence, technology and civil liberties.
  Follow @nakashimae
Greg Miller covers intelligence agencies and terrorism for The Washington Post.
  Follow @gregpmiller

David Cay Johnston: As Jeff Sessions Scandal Brews, We Need a Public Probe of Trump's Ties to Russia

STORYMARCH 02, 2017

GUESTS
David Cay Johnston
Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter and author of the book The Making of Donald Trump. He is a former New York Times reporter. He is the founder and editor of DCReport.org.

LINKS
The Trump administration is facing a new scandal as the Justice Department has acknowledged Attorney General Jeff Sessions met twice last year with Russia’s ambassador to the United States. This contradicts sworn testimony Sessions gave to Congress. During his confirmation hearing in January, then-Senator Sessions was asked by Minnesota Senator Al Franken whether he knew of contacts between Trump campaign officials and Russia’s government. Sessions replied, "I did not have communications with the Russians." House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi on Wednesday accused Sessions of "apparent perjury" and said in a statement, "Sessions is not fit to serve as the top law enforcement officer of our country and must resign." Earlier today, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy and House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chair Jason Chaffetz called on Sessions to recuse himself from a Justice Department probe into alleged ties between Trump campaign officials and Russia’s government. We speak to David Cay Johnston, the author of "The Making of Donald Trump."

TRANSCRIPT
This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.
AMY GOODMAN: The Trump administration is facing a new scandal as the Justice Department has acknowledged Attorney General Jeff Sessions met twice last year with Russia’s ambassador to the United States. This contradicts Sessions’ sworn testimony to Congress. During his confirmation hearing in January, then-Senator Sessions was asked by Minnesota Senator Al Franken whether he knew of contacts between Trump campaign surrogates and Russia’s government.
SEN. AL FRANKEN: If there is any evidence that anyone affiliated with the Trump campaign communicated with the Russian government in the course of this campaign, what will you do?
SENJEFF SESSIONS: Senator Franken, I’m 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—not have communications with the Russians.
AMY GOODMAN: The Washington Post reported Wednesday that Sessions twice met with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak: in July on the sidelines of the Republican National Convention and in September in Sessions’ office on Capitol Hill. And The Wall Street Journal reports that federal investigators are probing Sessions’ contacts with Russian officials.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi Wednesday accused Sessions of "apparent perjury" and said in a statement, quote, "Sessions is not fit to serve as the top law enforcement officer of our country and must resign," unquote. Joining the call was Maryland Congressman Elijah Cummings, ranking member of the House Oversight Committee. Many top Democrats are calling for a special prosecutor to investigate ties between top Trump officials and Russia’s government. At least one top Republican senator said Wednesday he is open to the idea. This is South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham speaking on CNN.
SENLINDSEY GRAHAM: It is clear to me that Jeff Sessions, who is my dear friend, cannot make this decision about Trump. So they may be not—there may be nothing there, but if there’s something there that the FBI believes is criminal in nature, then, for sure, you need a special prosecutor.
AMY GOODMAN: Earlier this morning, Attorney General Jeff Sessions briefly spoke with an NBC reporter.
ATTORNEY GENERAL JEFF SESSIONS: Well, I have not met with any Russians at any time to discuss any political campaign. And those remarks are unbelievable to me and are false. And I don’t have anything else to say about that. So, thank you.
AMY GOODMAN: We’re joined now by two guests. David Cay Johnston is the Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter formerly with The New York Times. He’s author of the book The Making of Donald Trump. He is the founder and editor of the DCReport.org. Also with us is economist and lawyer James Henry, who has investigated Trump’s ties to Russia. His most recent report is titled "Another Cabinet Pick with Secret Ties to Putin and Oligarchs." He’s talking about Wilbur Ross.
But I want to turn first to David Cay Johnston. So much has been revealed in the last 24 hours, David, both by The Washington Post and The New York Times. Can you talk about the significance of these revelations?
DAVID CAY JOHNSTON: Well, their significance is that it shows how we have to have an open, public investigation of Donald Trump. And to paraphrase Richard Nixon, people have got to know that their president is not a traitor. The Intelligence Committee chairman in the House, Representative Nunes, has already said, "Well, I haven’t seen anything. I haven’t seen anything." Of course, he hasn’t started his investigation. But we don’t need to have the intelligence committees, which meet in secret, investigate this, and we don’t need a special prosecutor.
What we need is a public investigation, beginning with getting Donald Trump’s tax returns, not only the ones that he—the IRS has in its possession and that they can subpoena from Trump, if he hasn’t destroyed them, but also those that he’s had to produce in litigation around the country; have the staff of the Joint Committee on Taxation review those, so that we know how much money Trump got from the Russians, which Russians, who he’s paid interest to, who he has business partnerships with. And notice how desperate Donald Trump is to make sure we do not investigate this, how Jeff Sessions tries to blow off the fact that he spoke to the Russian ambassador, and yet, twice, in a hearing and then in a letter, said he had had no contact with the Russians, when he was, by his own account, a surrogate for the Trump campaign. This is very, very important, Amy, and we really need to make sure there is an open, public investigation and this is not swept under the Intelligence Committee rug.
AMY GOODMAN: Well, let’s talk about what Attorney General Sessions said. He said as a surrogate for the Trump campaign. He was clearly making a distinction between that and being a senator. But The Washington Post polled 19 of the 26 members of the Senate Armed Services Committee, on which he serves, and none of them said that they had met with the Russian ambassador to the United States, David.
DAVID CAY JOHNSTON: Well, yes. And I think it’s very significant that he was later asked, in writing, another question, and his answer was one word: "No." Jeff Sessions is an experienced politician. He has been masterful at obscuring his racist conduct and attitudes. That’s how he got all the way to attorney general. And here, he has shown, at a minimum, at an absolute minimum, that he cannot have anything to do with the investigation of Donald Trump. He was the first senator to back Donald Trump. He has made it clear that he doesn’t think there’s anything here. And so, he has to recuse himself, at an absolute minimum, from any involvement.
What Donald Trump wants first and foremost here, Amy, is to make sure there is not a proper investigation. And Donald Trump, who I’ve known nearly 30 years, has a long history of compromising the FBI, compromising grand juries, compromising the Federal Office of Ethics, the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office, so that investigations of him are not properly done. People really need to make sure and demand that we have an open, public, bipartisan, no-holds-barred investigation. And it starts with review of Donald Trump’s tax returns, which Congress has the right to see under a 1920s law.
AMY GOODMAN: I want to go to Senator Jeff Sessions speaking in 1999, when he backed the impeachment of President Bill Clinton.
SENJEFF SESSIONS: As a former federal prosecutor for 12 years, attorney general for two years, I know and believe very deeply in the rule of law, in the fact that honest and—testimony is required if we’re to have justice in America. So the problem is not the personal conduct. People on both sides of the aisle have failed in their dedication to their families over and over again. We know that to be true. But the fact is that we’re dealing and wrestling with allegations that suggest perjury or obstruction of justice. The president has a full and should be given a full opportunity to respond to that, but, fundamentally, we’re going to have to wrestle with that, and that issue will not go away.
AMY GOODMAN: There is Senator Sessions talking about perjury and obstruction of justice. The significance of this, David Cay Johnston?
DAVID CAY JOHNSTON: Well, in the case of Donald Trump, keep in mind, Donald Trump lies as easily as you and I breathe. He is, by becoming president of the United States, the number one con artist in the history of the world. He has spent his entire adult life deeply in the embrace of violent felons, Russian mobsters, American mobsters, assorted swindlers and crooks. He has cheated his own workers out of their pay. He has cheated small business people out of their fees. He has swindled investors in properties that were branded with the Trump name. And so, it’s absolutely critical to understand that you can’t rely on anything that Donald Trump says as president of the United States, but especially when he knows that he’s got stuff in his closet to hide.
Now, my colleague Jim Henry, who wrote his report for DCReport, my nonprofit news organization, has spent a lot of time digging into the Russian connections here, and they are vast, deep. They go back more than 30 years. And an important element to understand about why this matters with the Russians, who are the Russian oligarchs? They are a state-sponsored network of international criminals. And Donald Trump has had so many involvements with them, involving the Trump SoHo hotel, the sale of property and other things Jim can talk about. And then we get Wilbur Ross, the commerce secretary, who is in bed with these guys right up to his eyeballs.
AMY GOODMAN: OK, we’re going to talk about all of that in a moment. David Cay Johnston with us from Rochester, the Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter, author of The Making of Donald Trump. This is Democracy Now! We’ll be back with him and Jim Henry in a moment.
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