So, how could then-Senator Jeff Sessions NOT have asked Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak about Russian hacking when they met on Sept. 8?
After all, it was widely known by then that the Russians had committed the cyber equivalent of the Watergate burglary.
As a senator, as a Trump supporter, as a patriotic American, Sessions had the duty to challenge the ambassador about Russia’s efforts to influence and therefore undermine the American electoral process.
Imagine if Sessions were still a prosecutor and he had reason to believe that he was sitting down with a member of a burglary ring and failed to challenge the man.
As he recounted at this week’s press conference where he announced his recusal from any investigation into Russian hacks, Sessions and two of his senior staffers—both retired Army colonels—did discuss several matters with the ambassador during the visit.
“We listened to the ambassador and what his concerns might be,” Sessions said. “It was just normal things.”
Sessions reported that he did not recall a lot of what was said, “But I do remember saying I’d gone to Russia with a church group in 1991, and he said he was not a believer himself but he was glad to have church people come there. Indeed, I thought he was pretty much of an old-style Soviet-type ambassador.”
Sessions added that he had also “talked a little bit about terrorism as I recall” and “somehow the subject of the Ukraine came up. I had had the Ukraine ambassador in my office the day before.”
Russia had unquestionably violated Ukraine’s sovereignty and broken international law, but Kislyak insisted his country was completely in the right.
“And to listen to him… Russia had done nothing that was wrong in any area, and everybody else was wrong with regard to the Ukraine,” Sessions reported.
Sessions had apparently suggested otherwise.
“It got to be a little bit of a testy conversation at that point,” he allowed.
Yet Sessions does not seem even to have mentioned, much less challenged, the Russian’s transgression against American sovereignty as well as violation of international law by taking a cyber axe to the underpinnings of our democracy.
A paranoid person might think that Sessions did not want to discuss the hacking in front of the two colonels, who are presumably paragons of patriotism.
Or, maybe Sessions simply shared Trump’s view, which the future president had expressed in July, when he engaged in some Trumpian near-humor and said he HOPED the Russians would find Hillary Clinton’s 30,000 missing emails.
Is it possible that Sessions would feel compelled to speak up for Ukrainian sovereignty but not for American sovereignty?
There’s an old Ukrainian saying, “Buvaye, shcho j korova litaye,” meaning “Cows also happen to fly.”
A Department of Justice spokeswoman said nothing at all when asked via email why Sessions had apparently not even mentioned the hacking to the ambassador.
Sessions can be excused not broaching the subject when he and Kislyak met briefly in more public circumstances on July 18, the first day of the Republican convention.
But you have to wonder about him when you consider what he said later in the month on CNN.
“This whole problem with Russia is really disastrous for America, for Russia and for the world,” he said. “Donald Trump is right. We need to figure out a way to end this cycle of hostility that’s putting this country at risk, costing us billions of dollars in defense, and creating hostilities.”
And the September meeting was in the privacy of Sessions’s senate office. They had plenty of time to discuss whatever Sessions deemed important.
On Jan. 10, Sessions failed to mention the meeting at all when he testified under oath during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on his nomination for attorney general. Senator Al Franken asked him about reports of contacts between “Trump surrogates” and people connected to the Russian government.
“I did not have communications with the Russians, and I’m unable to comment on it,” Sessions said.
In light of this week’s revelations that Sessions had in fact met at least twice with the Russian ambassador, some have suggested that our new attorney general might have committed perjury. He has rightfully recused himself from the wider and still widening investigation into Russian efforts to influence the election.
President Trump is standing by Sessions, and engaged in a little more Trumpian near-humor when he tweeted an old photo of Senator Chuck Schumer having a Krispy Kreme donut with Vladimir Putin at a Lukoil station when the Russian president was visiting New York.
‘We should start an immediate investigation into @SenSchumer and his ties to Russia and Putin. A total hypocrite!” the president said.
Meanwhile, almost nobody who lies to Congress gets criminally charged. A famous 1994 photo shows the top executives of the tobacco industry in a line, solemnly swearing to tell the truth just before they testified that they believed cigarettes are not addictive and do not cause cancer. They were not even indicted as their product continued to kill people by the thousands.
There seems to be next to no chance that Sessions will end up behind bars even if he was lying.
Unless a cow flies.