It’s understandable that the American people might be growing weary of the media hyperbole not quite living up to the hype. Another revelation is making it more difficult to see through the removal of Jeff Sessions as Attorney General, which appears to have been the Democrats’ plan all along.
It has been pointed out before that the context of Jeff Sessions, former Republican Senator from Alabama, and Senator Al Franken (D-MN) was in light of a report that Russians were contacting Trump surrogates to discuss election matters.
Sessions’ response, though incomplete, left out two occasions when he met the Russian ambassador while acting as a Senator. One time was after a Heritage Foundation speech around the time of the Republican National Convention with approximately 50 ambassadors in the room. Sessions shook Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak’s hand and had a brief exchange with him. The second time was in Sessions’ office on Capitol Hill with two U.S. senior officials in attendance.
The first time could hardly be considered serious grounds for accusing the Senator of discussing campaign matters with a foreign agent, although such evidence of the content of that discussion is still outstanding barring witnesses or video footage. It turns out, however, that there is a key bit of information that should be reported anytime this meeting is mentioned in a news story.
It was set up by the Obama administration. Hans von Spakovsky, as he mentioned in a piece “Get real, Democrats, there is no good reason for Sessions to resign” published at Fox News, reveals the information. As reported by The Daily Caller:
The Obama administration helped set up the first meeting Jeff Sessions had with the Russian ambassador in 2016.
Heritage Foundation scholar Hans von Spakovsky wrote at FoxNews.com that the event at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland that his employer hosted was attended by Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak.
Spakovsky writes that the event was a conference titled “Global Partners in Diplomacy,” where Sessions was the keynote speaker. It was sponsored by the State Department, the Heritage Foundation and other organizations.
“The conference was an educational program for ambassadors invited by the Obama State Department to observe the convention. The Obama State Department handled all of the coordination with ambassadors and their staff, of which there were about 100 at the conference,” Spakovsky wrote.
“Apparently, after Sessions finished speaking,“ Spakovsky adds, ”a small group of ambassadors—including the Russian ambassador—approached the senator as he left the stage and thanked him for his remarks. That’s the first ‘meeting.’ And it’s hardly an occasion—much less a venue—in when a conspiracy to ‘interfere’ with the November election could be hatched.”
“There is no reason for Attorney General Sessions to resign,” Spakovsky added.
“Yes, that happens,” Manchin said in response to a question by CNN’s Alisyn Camerota. “We meet with all the ambassadors or try to anyway to build relationships. It’s not unusual.”
On another occasion, Manchin also spoke up to address concerns that Sessions’ conversations were unusual or inappropriate.
“I met with the Russian ambassador with other senators with the Armed Services Committee,” he said, providing details to Breitbart. “As I recall, a lot of that was about NSAS and space and improving the working environment, because we are using Russian rock bets, so there are a lot of conversations with a lot of ambassadors–we all do.”
The main questions outstanding are the content of the conversation between Sessions and Kislyak within his office — in the presence of two U.S. senior staff members — and whether or not his response to Sen. Franken at his confirmation hearing constitutes perjury.
In regards to the second issue, an expert cited at Politico, Richard Painter, a top ethics lawyer from the Bush administration, doubts that any improper statement made by Sessions rises to the level of perjury.
“It is, at best, very misleading testimony,” he said. “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.”