Attorney General Jeff Sessions is facing calls to step down after telling the Senate Judiciary Committee in his confirmation hearing that he had no communications with Russian officials during the presidential campaign, despite the fact that he met at least twice with Russia’s U.S. ambassador last year.
As the Washington Post reported last night, Sessions twice denied communicating with Russian government officials during the election, although his spokesman has since confirmed that such interactions did in fact take place, but not in his capacity as a campaign surrogate.
Sessions, who was a major surrogate for Donald Trump’s campaign and chairman of his national security advisory committee, is currently the person overseeing the investigation into ties between Trump’s campaign and Russian officials.
This wouldn’t be the only time that Sessions misled the Senate during the confirmation process.
He told the Senate Judiciary Committee that when he was a U.S. Attorney, he “personally” litigated four civil rights cases, which he listed as among his most significant cases. He said this in a document with a sworn affidavit that it was, “to the best of [his] knowledge, true and accurate.”
Three Justice Department lawyers who worked on the cases Sessions had mentioned, however, stated that “Sessions had no substantive involvement in any of them” and had only “signed his name on the complaint.”
“Sessions’s attempt to pass himself off as a civil rights hero is particularly brazen given his history with the nominations process,” they continued. “In 1986, as part of his rejected bid to become a federal district court judge, Sessions filled out a similar questionnaire and had to provide the same information about his most important cases. Yet he listed none of the civil rights cases he now touts, even though all of those cases either were in progress or had reached a decision by that time.”
The former Alabama senator also appeared to grossly exaggerate his role in desegregation cases and the prosecution of the Ku Klux Klan in an attempt to deflect criticism that he has been hostile to civil rights.
Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., who asked Sessions about potential contacts with members of the Russian government, also quizzed Sessions about his supposed civil rights work during his confirmation hearing, noting that Sessions himself said that he never met one of the lawyers who handled one of the cases Sessions listed. “So if you don’t know him, it’s hard for me to believe that you personally handled it,” Franken said, later adding: “You don’t sound like you personally handled cases you said you personally handled.”
Franken later broke down Sessions’ misleading statements about civil rights litigation:
That time Sen Al Franken proved Jeff Sessions to be lying about his record on his AG application about championing civil rights cases. pic.twitter.com/rIYLeEe5Ab
— Ahmed Shihab-Eldin (@ASE) February 1, 2017