Yesterday, the Washington Post dropped a story alleging, with the same impeccable sourcing that we’ve become used to, that Sessions had two “substantive” conversations with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak that had not been disclosed.
I’m sort of with Patterico on this. I’m not sure what difference this really makes even on the outside chance that it is true. If Sessions did lie, the only person who can do anything about it is Trump. It isn’t like the Senate gets a re-do on the vote. And, as Eric Holder demonstrated, even if the Senate votes a criminal contempt citation, that doesn’t mean Sessions is a) fired, b) prosecuted, c) loses his law license, or d) that anyone even cares.
But the story was hardly out and this rumor started circulating.
— Garrett M. Graff (@vermontgmg) July 21, 2017
This Trump tweet was used as evidence of the plot because, you will note, that Trump doesn’t say Sessions didn’t do it, he only complains about the leak because, as we know, all of Trump’s tweets are meticulously researched.
A new INTELLIGENCE LEAK from the Amazon Washington Post,this time against A.G. Jeff Sessions.These illegal leaks, like Comey's, must stop!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 22, 2017
So, you're confirming the report? Your Justice Department said it wasn't true.
— Evan Dashevsky (@haldash) July 22, 2017
Likewise we are assured there is some linkage between Trump’s interview on Wednesday and this story running Friday. Sorry, sometimes, most of the times, a cigar is just a cigar. Ask yourself have you seen any evidence 1) that the White House communications operation is able to pull off a precisely timed event like this or 2) that opposing factions in the White House would not have ratted out the plot long before its execution? I try to give the White House the benefit of the doubt and I haven’t seen anything to convince me this is possible or even plausible unless large quantities of alcohol are being consumed while it is being discussed. What you can see, however, is the Washington Post having this story in the works and rushing it to press on Friday evening to get a bounce off the Trump interview because Friday is when you put out news you are trying to bury.
The Justice Department has denied the story:
Justice Department spokeswoman Sarah Isgur Flores denied Sessions had improper discussions with Kislyak or was untruthful about it later.
“Obviously I cannot comment on the reliability of what anonymous sources describe in a wholly uncorroborated intelligence intercept that the Washington Post has not seen and that has not been provided to me, but the Attorney General stands by his testimony from just last month before the Senate Intelligence Committee when he specifically addressed this and said that he ‘never met with or had any conversations with any Russians or any foreign officials concerning any type of interference with any campaign or election,'” Flores said.
If you are inclined to believe the story, then both Sessions’ much more expansive denial under oath and this denial can be dismissed. I understand doubting the administration. Trump didn’t and doesn’t seem to realize that credibility is the coin of the realm in politics and because of that he’s given us no reason to believe denials.
What I really don’t understand is how this newest conspiracy works.
Factually, Jeff Sessions works for Trump. He’s not civil service, he doesn’t belong to a union, he doesn’t have an employment agreement. He serves “at the pleasure” of the president. He can be dismissed at anytime for any reason and even for no reason. Trump’s interview on Wednesday was more than enough to force Sessions out of office if that had been Trump’s desire.
How does Trump benefit from getting rid of Sessions? Short answer is that he doesn’t. Sessions is a Trump loyalist and Trump and his inner circle have to be aware that getting a Trump ally confirmed as attorney general is non-existent. The only people that benefit from getting rid of Sessions are the people who want to get rid of Sessions. I don’t think any of those work in the White House.
Given the Russia probe underway, we are supposed to believe that Trump would decide to use information related to that investigation and which carries dark hints of COLLUSION!1!!11! (to quote one of our commenters). How does that make sense? Why would anyone do that when “lack of confidence” is enough? Sessions’ recent steps on asset forfeiture and sentencing reforms, themselves, are so out of step with the GOP and with Congress, respectively, that they would provide more than sufficient reason to give Sessions the heave-ho and generate some goodwill in the process.
I will admit that Trump has done some strange and self-defeating things over the past six months and it would be utter folly to say that Trump’s circle couldn’t come up with a boneheaded plan like this. But I can’t see this as being anything other than what it is portrayed to be by the Washington Post: another hostile leak from inside the intelligence community targeting someone in the Trump administration.