Back in May, CNN ran a story accusing Attorney General Jeff Sessions of lying on his disclosure forms.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions did not disclose meetings he had last year with Russian officials when he applied for his security clearance, the Justice Department told CNN Wednesday.
Sessions, who met with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak at least two times last year, didn’t note those interactions on the form, which requires him to list “any contact” he or his family had with a “foreign government” or its “representatives” over the past seven years, officials said.
The new information from the Justice Department is the latest example of Sessions failing to disclose contacts he had with Russian officials. He has come under withering criticism from Democrats following revelations that he did not disclose the same contacts with Kislyak during his Senate confirmation hearings earlier this year.
In that report, a Justice Department spokesperson told CNN:
“In filling out the SF-86 form, the Attorney General’s staff consulted with those familiar with the process, as well as the FBI investigator handling the background check, and was instructed not to list meetings with foreign dignitaries and their staff connected with his Senate activities.”
Despite the denial and despite the fact that the form, the SF-86, clearly says that you only report contacts of a personal nature (see my post on the story):
CNN still promoted the hell out of the story and it is, even now, regularly coughed up as a reason to hold Sessions in contempt of Congress (ha, as if he hasn’t passed that point long ago) for “lying” on his disclosure form.
An interesting sidelight to this is that the byline on the original story is shared by the goober who launched the Donald Trump, Jr., email story on Friday and a guy named Evan Perez whose claim to fame is that he is very close friends with the guys who founded Fusion GPS. Perez has been at center stage of CNN’s efforts to flog the Trump dossier as fact. Tellingly, it is to Evan Perez that falls the sad duty of walking back the major story he pushed: FBI email: Sessions wasn’t required to disclose foreign contacts for security clearance.
A newly released document shows that the FBI told an aide to Attorney General Jeff Sessions that Sessions wasn’t required to disclose foreign contacts that occurred in the course of carrying out his government duties when he was a senator.
The FBI email from March bolsters the explanation by the Justice Department for why Sessions didn’t disclose contacts with the Russian ambassador in his application for a US security clearance. When the omission of the foreign contacts on the form was first reported by CNN in May, the Justice Department said Sessions’ office was advised by the FBI that he didn’t need to disclose the meetings.
An FBI agent, whose name isn’t made public in the document released by the bureau, was responding in March to a query from Sessions’ assistant. The assistant sought confirmation of what she said was an earlier conversation on the matter. At the time, news of Sessions’ Russian contacts had recently become public and prompted fierce political criticism.
The agent didn’t recall the earlier conversation but affirmed that “he was not required to list foreign government contacts while in official government business unless he developed personal relationships from such contacts.”
So Sessions didn’t lie and DOJ told CNN the truth and CNN ran with the story anyway because it hurt Sessions and the administration and probably because Fusion GPS had a nice, fat contract to promote this stuff. (We’re still waiting on the names of the four reporters Fusion GPS paid to promote the Trump dossier story, any takers on who one of them is?)
This looks like Perez is being taken to the woodshed. He’s having to write a story that says his first story was crap and he has to do it by himself.
[Of course, the unanswered question is why, if this email was released under a Freedom of Information Act, didn’t some lackwit in Justice or the FBI think of pushing this email out proactively to serve the public good and to take some heat off their boss?]