The US attorney general has suddenly remembered discussion of a Russian meeting after a campaign advisor admitted lying to the FBI. Jeff Sessions previously testified that he did not recall any talk of a Russian meeting.
US Attorney General Jeff Sessions testified before Congress on Tuesday that he was, in fact, aware of contact between Donald Trump's election campaign and Russian intermediaries last year, but insisted he had never lied under oath during previous testimony on Capitol Hill.
He said sleep deprivation and the overall "chaos" of Trump's presidential campaign clouded his memory surrounding details of contacts between the campaign and Russian officials.
"In all of my testimony, I can only do my best to answer all of your questions as I understand them and to the best of my memory," Sessions told the House Judiciary Committee. "But I will not accept, and reject, accusations that I have ever lied under oath. That is a lie."
The Alabama senator led a foreign policy advisory council during Trump's campaign last year. Since January the Trump presidency has been dogged by allegations of, and been criminally investigated over, colluding with the Russian government to win the election.
Sessions has been dogged by his own evolving explanations regarding his foreign contacts during the campaign, and what he knew of communication between other Trump campaign officials and Russian officials, or their intermediaries.
Belatedly, Sessions remembers
Sessions previously testified before Congress that he could not recall any contacts between the Trump campaign and Russian officials.
But on Tuesday he told the House Judiciary Committee that he now recalls a campaign meeting last year where a campaign adviser said he had connections in Russia and could facilitate a meeting between Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
"I do now recall" the meeting where adviser George Papadopoulos made the proposal, Sessions said, "but I have no clear recollection of the details of what he said during the meeting."
Indeed, not only did the attorney general now recall the incident, he also recalled doing the right thing.
"I pushed back, I'll just say it that way," Sessions said under questioning, subsequently adding that he was concerned that "he not go off somewhere pretending to represent the Trump campaign."
Robert Mueller, the special prosecutor investigating potential ties between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin, announced in October that Papadopoulos had pleaded guilty to making false statements to the FBI.
Carter Page, another Trump aide in the crosshairs of the special prosecutor, recently told Congress behind closed doors that he notified Sessions during the campaign about a meeting he had planned in Russia.
Since Mueller's probe began, several Trump advisors have acknowledged talks or meetings with Russian officials or intermediaries. They include Donald Trump Jr., former campaign manager Paul Manafort, and Trump's son-in-law and senior advisor, Jared Kushner. Manafort has been indicted on 12 counts.
bik/aw (AP, Reuters)