During his confirmation hearings in January, Sessions, however, did not mention his conversations with Sergey Kislyak.
At the time of the hearings, some Americans considered Russia an antagonist because of numerous reports of its interference in the US election. Here's how Sessions answered questions during his confirmation hearings on interacting with Russian officials:
SEN. AL FRANKEN: "If there was any evidence that anyone affiliated with the Trump campaign communicated with the Russian government in the course of this (2016) campaign, what would you do?," the Minnesota Democrat asked.
SESSIONS: "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 did not have communications with the Russians."
DATE: January 10
SEN. PATRICK J. LEAHY: 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?" the Vermont Democrat asked in a questionnaire.
DATE: January 10
Franken: "CNN just published a story alleging that the intelligence community provided documents to the president-elect last week that included information that quote, ‘Russian operatives claimed to have compromising personal and financial information about Mr. Trump.’ These documents also allegedly say quote, ‘There was a continuing exchange of information during the campaign between Trump's surrogates and intermediaries for the Russian government.’
"Now, again, I'm telling you this as it's coming out, so you know. But if it's true, it's obviously extremely serious and 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?"
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 — did not have communications with the Russians, and I'm unable to comment on it."
Leahy: 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?
Carleas wrote:Uccs, I think you're being too generous. You're reading "I didn't have — did not have communications with the Russians [on the topic of the campaign]", but that isn't called for. The context of the answer is there: the concern is what happened during the campaign, not with respect to the campaign, and Franken is expressly concerned with "a continuing exchange of information during the campaign between Trump's surrogates and intermediaries for the Russian government."
So no, I don't think it's an agreed fact that Franken was interested only in discussions of the campaign.
Surely he'd be interested in discussions of future Trump administration policies, policy issues on which Trump might take a position and the Russian preferences for those positions, any number of things that aren't "the campaign" but that are problematic when we're they're discussed with a foreign power criminally meddling in an election on behalf of Sessions' boss.
We have evidence that the Russians committed cybercrimes with the intention of interfering in the election to help Trump, so someone on the Trump campaign who spoke to Russian officials for any reason should be investigated as part of investigating that election interference.
Uccisore wrote:You're talking about [list of people]. Remember, at the time Sessions spoke to Russian diplomats, he was just 'somebody who endorsed Trump'.
Carleas wrote:"People have a right" and "exercising that right looks suspicious and should be investigated" aren't at all mutually incompatible. If 1) there's espionage by a foreign power to support Trump in the last election, and 2) we know that a specific person affiliated with the Trump campaign (particularly a sitting politician who was later nominated for a senior administration position) had contacts with Russian officials, the right response is not "he's just exercising his right to free association, nothing to see here".
I would not accept "I wouldn't care" from the person whose job it is to investigate that crime, and neither would you.
Uccisore wrote:Seems like we could easily whittle that list down by restricting it to people who were granted top positions in the Trump administration.
There are ways to read his false statement to avoid it being dishonest: if he didn't recall, or if he didn't consider the meeting to be "communication with the Russians" (which is reasonable with respect to his group meetings with Russians, as Claire McCaskill demonstrated), or if he thought Franken was asking about campaign-related communication. But none of those make his statement true, they make it innocent.
But it doesn't take liberal malice to think that none of those are plausible.
The only colorably plausible excuse is that Sessions misunderstood the question to be about discussing the campaign, and then answered the misunderstood question in a technically true way because he and Kislyak didn't talk about the campaign.
To me, that still seems dishonest, because saying something that's technically true knowing that it will mislead the listener is effectively equivalent to a lie.
But I also think that's a silly way of interpreting the question, because a closed door meeting with the Russian ambassador seems like something Franken would be interested to know about,
Uccisore wrote:the 'espionage' you're talking about is a private citizen's email account being hacked...
Carleas wrote:3) It is a crime perpetrated by a foreign government with the intent of affecting the outcome of the election. If Russia were only colluding with the Trump campaign to take out full page ads in the New York Times, that would still be significant and worth talking about. In the real world, when a foreign power criminally intervenes in an election, it's newsworthy, it's worth investigating.
To the rest your post, let me ask, because I feel like we're talking past each other a bit: what does a discussion "in the course of [the] campaign" look like to you?
Sessions is a senior policy advisor on the Trump campaign, he's in line for a spot in the administration, what's the minimum content of the conversation that makes it fit to what Franken is asking about?
Many of the topics that could be discussed in Sessions role on the Armed Services Committee would overlap with his role as Trump's policy advisor, and a meeting on those topics should be disclosed as a "communication with the Russians" in the "course of the campaign".
Uccisore wrote:It's hard to think of an example of 'in the course of X' meaning 'during the time period X occured, whether or not it pertained to X'.
Uccisore wrote:[W]hat Sessions said about his own communications with Russia was ventured information, not an answer to any specific question.
Uccisore wrote:[I]t has been investigated
Uccisore wrote:It apparently wasn't worth investigating when Ted Kennedy did it to stop the evil Ronald Reagan
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