Prior to the testimony given by Attorney General Jeff Sessions before the Senate Intelligence Committee this week, there was a lot of chatter about his third undisclosed meeting with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak. Depending on whom you read, like the LA Times or the Associated Press, Sessions denied the third meeting, while NBC News says the attorney general said it was “conceivable” a third rendezvous occurred, but he cannot recollect what happened. He did stress that nothing improper had occurred.
Sessions has been under fire for answers he gave to Sens. Al Franken (D-MN) and Patrick Leahy (D-VT) about his interactions with the Russians, including two meetings that he did not disclose. At the same time, both questions were within the parameters of the 2016 campaign, not in his former capacity as a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee. The second meeting at the RNC Convention was facilitated by an initiative from the Obama administration. To rehash, here’s what was asked of Sessions during his confirmation hearing with the Senate Judiciary Committee:
FRANKEN: CNN just published a story alleging that the intelligence community provided documents to the president-elect last week, that included information that “Russian operatives claim to have compromising personal and financial information about Mr. Trump.” These documents also allegedly say “there was a continuing exchange of information during the campaign between Trump surrogates and intermediaries for the Russian government.” Again, I’m telling you this as it’s coming out, so, you know.
But if it’s true, it’s obviously extremely serious, and if there is any evidence that anyone affiliated with the Trump campaign communicated with the Russian government in the course of this campaign, what will you do?
SESSIONS: Senator Franken, 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, and I’m unable to comment on it.
FRANKEN: Very well.
[LEAHY:] Several of the President-Elect’s nominees or senior advisers have Russian ties. Have you been in contact with anyone connected to any part of the Russian government about the 2016 election, either before or after Election Day?
[Sessions] RESPONSE: No.
Leahy asked about communications about the election. Franken asked about communications as a campaign surrogate. Sessions told the truth.— Sean Davis (@seanmdav) March 2, 2017
Yet, Democrats are obsessed about Russia. It’s got to the point where some of them think that any meeting with the Russians is inappropriate. And yes, Democrats have lied about their own meetings with Sergey Kislyak. Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) have said they did not meet with Kislyak, only to have pictures or past tweets confirm that they did meet him. During the Obama presidency, Sergey Kislyak met with the then-president 22 times. Are we going to have an investigation over that? Probably not—and I’m sure in both Sessions and Obama’s cases, nothing occurred. It was a typical interaction between a foreign official and a member of Congress that occurs daily. In Obama’s case, it was a meeting that comes with the job description.
Via Daily Caller:
The visitor logs, which Obama made public in 2009 in a push for transparency, show that the long-time Russian ambassador to the United States visited the White House at least 22 times between 2009 and 2016.
Kislyak appeared in the logs as recently as September 2016 when he had a meeting scheduled with one of Obama’s senior advisers, John Holdren, in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building. The other visitors listed at the meeting are Marina W. Gross, Alexander Ermolaev, Alexey Lopatin, Vyacheslav Balakirev and Sergey Sarazhinskiy. Though the appointment was scheduled to begin at 12:00 pm, it does not include an end time.
Kislyak was also listed on the logs in July 2016, March 2016, January 2016, August 2015, April 2014, February 2014, May 2013, February 2013, November 2012, December 2011, July 2011, December 2010, October 2010, May 2010, April 2010, February 2010, March 2010, December 2009 and September 2009.