Mueller probed Sessions for perjury over Russia contacts

Source: Politico | April 18, 2019 | Burgess Everett

Former Attorney General Jeff Sessions was investigated for perjury by special counsel Robert Mueller’s office for misstatements he made about contact with the Russians during his confirmation hearing, though the office concluded that it could not prove that Sessions was “willfully untruthful.”

“The Office considered whether, in light of these interactions, Sessions committed perjury before, or made false statements to, Congress in connection with his confirmation as Attorney General,” Mueller’s report read, confirming reports last year about Sessions’ potential legal jeopardy during his confirmation hearings.

Sessions told the Senate Judiciary Committee in early January 2017 that he “did not have communications with the Russians” in response to a question from then-Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) about his contacts with Kremlin officials. The special counsel investigation found that Sessions had interacted with Russian officials at least twice and possibly a third time, all in 2016.

In supplemental correspondence to the Senate Judiciary Committee, Sessions identified two campaign-era contacts with then-Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak but said he did “not recall any discussions” with Kislyak or other Russian officials about the presidential campaign. The special counsel’s office, however, “established that Sessions interacted with Kislyak … and that Kislyak mentioned the presidential campaign on at least one occasion.”

Ultimately, the office found that the “evidence is not sufficient to prove that Sessions knowingly gave false answers to Russia-related questions in light of the wording and context of those questions.” The special counsel found it “plausible” that Sessions did not remember the references to the presidential campaign by Kislyak and that his statement to questions before the Judiciary Committee came in response to questions about “an alleged ‘continuing exchange of information,’” the report says.

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