During the Senate Intelligence Committee hearing last Tuesday, Attorney General Jeff Sessions gave a testimony in which he called any accusations of him allegedly cooperating with Russian authorities during last year’s presidential election “an appalling and detestable lie.”
As he was explaining about any meetings he may have had with members of the Russian government, Attorney General Sessions called out Senator Al Franken and the question he posed during Sessions’ confirmation hearing in January.
During that hearing, Sen. Al Franken referred to a CNN report that emerged just prior to Jeff Sessions’ testimony alleging that the intelligence community provided documents to then-president elect Donald Trump, which claimed “there was a continuing exchange of information during the campaign between Trump’s surrogates and intermediaries for the Russian government.”
Al Franken then posed a question to Sessions, asking what he would do if he learned the report was true?
Sessions replied, “Senator Franken, I’m not aware of any of those activities. I have been called a surrogate a time or two in that campaign and I did not have communications with the Russians and I’m unable to comment on it.”
Some criticize Attorney General Sessions for not being truthful in his original response, citing news of two meetings Sessions had with Russia’s ambassador to the U.S., Sergey Kislyak.
During the hearing on Tuesday, Jeff Sessions said that he intended to make clear what he meant by that response to what he described as a “rambling” question from Sen. Franken after six hours of testimony that included “dramatic” new allegations.
“I was taken aback by that explosive allegation which he said was being reported as breaking news that very day, in which I had not heard,” Sessions said. “I wanted to refute that immediately. Any suggestion that I was part of such an activity.”
He also noted he believed his answer was pretty fair and correct response to the allegation that “surrogates” had been meeting with Russian authority members regularly.
“It simply did not occur to me to go further than the context and to list any conversations that I may have had with Russians in routine situations as I had many routine meetings with other foreign officials,” Sessions said.
Sessions explained that he had a meeting with the ambassador in September in his senate office, not long after a speech he gave during the Republican National Convention in Cleveland.
But due to the nature of those meetings, which didn’t involve any campaign issues, Sessions said he didn’t believe they were related to the question asked by Al Franken.
He also denied he or any other Trump campaign member ever had any conversations with anyone related to the Russian government concerning “any type of interference with any campaign or election in the United States.”