Senate Dems demand Sessions testify after Papadopoulos plea deal
A pair of Senate Democrats are demanding Attorney General Jeff Sessions testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee after court documents revealed a Trump campaign staffer offered to set up a meeting between Moscow and then-candidate Donald Trump.
Democratic Sens. Richard Blumenthal (Conn.) and Patrick Leahy (Vt.) want to know why Sessions, at the time an Alabama senator, did not previously disclose a March 2016 meeting where George Papadopoulos, a former campaign adviser, offered to use his contacts to set up a meeting between Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“He now needs to come back before the Committee, in person, under oath, to explain why he cannot seem to provide truthful, complete answers to these important and relevant questions,” Leahy, a former chairman of the Judiciary Committee, said in a statement.
Blumenthal added in a separate letter to Sessions that he should “immediately come before the Senate Judiciary Committee to update your testimony and correct any omissions and any statements that may have been incorrect or misleading.”
Blumenthal is also asking him to submit in writing whether he knew at the time of his confirmation hearing about “any communications between individuals affiliated in any way with the Trump campaign and Russian government officials or agents.”
Sessions previously told lawmakers that he did not know of any contacts between Russian officials and Trump campaign surrogates.
But Papadopoulos, who pleaded guilty to making false statement to federal investigators, said during a March 31, 2016, national security meeting “that he had connections that could help arrange a meeting between then-candidate Trump and President Putin,” according to a plea deal released on Monday as part of special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into Russia’s election interference.
Sessions attended that meeting and a source told The Washington Post that Papadopoulos’s proposal was “immediately rejected by then-Senator Sessions.”
This week’s twist in the Mueller investigation isn’t the first time Sessions has faced pressure from Democrats to clarify his previous testimony.
Sessions recused himself from the Russia investigation earlier this year amid reports that he failed to disclose two 2016 meetings with Russia’s ambassador.
Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.), who questioned Sessions during his confirmation hearing about any contact with Russian officials, also sent Sessions a letter on Thursday demanding that he detail his interactions with Papadopoulos.
“This is another example in an alarming pattern in which you, the nation’s top law enforcement officer, apparently failed to tell the truth, under oath, about the Trump team’s contacts with agents of Russia—a hostile foreign power that interfered in the 2016 election,” Franken wrote in the letter.
Franken is asking for details on the March 31 meeting and an earlier email from Papadopoulos to members of Trump’s foreign policy team that notified them of his talks about trying to set up a meeting between the campaign and Russian officials.
He also wants Sessions to explain his previous comments to lawmakers that he didn’t meet with Russian officials and that he wasn’t aware of talks between Trump surrogates and Russian officials.
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