Richard Painter, a former White House ethics lawyer to President George W. Bush from 2005 to 2007, blasted Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsPress: For Trump endorsement: The more sordid, the better Those predicting Facebook's demise are blowing smoke If bitcoin is 'digital gold,' it should be taxed like gold MORE after it was reported that he spoke with the Russian ambassador to the United States while President Trump was on the campaign trail.
When asked in the hypothetical during his confirmation hearing as attorney general what he would do if he learned a member of Trump's campaign had communicated with the Russian government over the course of the 2016 campaign, Sessions responded: “I’m not aware of any of those activities ... I have been called a surrogate at a time or two in that campaign, and I did not have communications with the Russians.”
But The Washington Post reported Wednesday night that Sessions had spoken to Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak twice during 2016, once in a private conversation.
Officials said Sessions did not consider his conversations with Kislyak relevant to the lawmakers’ questions and did not remember their discussion in detail. And as a senior member of the Armed Services Committee, he regularly met foreign ambassadors, his spokeswoman said.
Painter blasted the statement on Twitter.
"Misleading the Senate in sworn testimony about one own contacts with the Russians is a good way to go to jail," Painter tweeted.
Misleading the Senate in sworn testimony about one own contacts with the Russians is a good way to go to jail https://t.co/qH0s6sTMJ9— Richard W. Painter (@RWPUSA) March 2, 2017
I spent two hours with the Congressional Black Caucus today discussing Russian attacks on the US. Does AG Sessions have anything to say?— Richard W. Painter (@RWPUSA) March 2, 2017
Painter is now a professor of law at the University of Minnesota.
That September conversation between Sessions and Kislyak took place during the same time intelligence officials have said Russia was interfering with the U.S. presidential election through a hacking and influence campaign.