Sessions reportedly did not disclose meetings with Russians on security clearance application

Attorney General

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions/Gage Skidmore

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U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions met with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak at least twice in 2016, the Department of Justice says, but he did not disclose those meetings when he applied for a security clearance, CNN reported Wednesday.

Sessions reportedly filed a form, SF-86, that asked him to list “any contact” he or his family had with a foreign government or its representatives over the prior seven years. However, he did not list the meetings with Kislyak.

Justice Department spokeswoman Sarah Isgur Flores said Sessions initially listed a year’s worth of meetings but removed them after an FBI agent helping with the form told him he didn’t need to list meetings that took place in his capacity as a senator. The FBI declined to comment. But Mark Zaid, an attorney who regularly helps government officials fill out this form, told CNN he advises his clients to disclose all meetings, even those that took place as part of official government business.

The meetings with Kislyak are known because Sessions has already failed to disclose them, as the Washington Post reported March 1. During his confirmation hearing, Sessions directly told Sen. Al Franken, D-Minnesota, “I did not have communications with the Russians.”

Asked by Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont, if he’d been in contact with anyone connected to the Russian government about the 2016 election, Sessions said no.

Congressional Democrats have characterized this as perjury because Sessions was under oath. But a Justice Department spokesperson later said Sessions was speaking about meetings he took as a Trump campaign official, and that his meetings with Kislyak were in his capacity as a senator. The day after the news broke, Sessions recused himself from the FBI’s investigation into the Trump campaign’s Russia ties.

Trump’s former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, is currently under investigation for failing to disclose payments from Russia on his own disclosure form.


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