During his grilling before the House Judiciary Committee, Attorney General Jeff Sessions got cornered into contradicting sworn testimony.
In an exchange with Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-New York), Sessions was asked to answer “yes” or “no” to a series of questions about the March 31, 2016 meeting he chaired with then-candidate Donald Trump and George Papadopoulos, a former foreign policy advisor to the Trump campaign.
In one of his answers, Sessions inadvertently contradicted the narrative that he didn’t remember Papadopoulos bringing up the proposed meeting between Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin until hearing about it in news reports.
REP. JERRY NADLER: Yes or no — did you chair the March 31, 2016 meeting of the National Security Advisory Committee?
ATTORNEY GENERAL JEFF SESSIONS: I did chair that meeting.
NADLER: Thank you. Did Mr. Papadopoulos mention his outreach to the Russian government during that meeting?
SESSIONS: He made some comment to that effect, as I remember after having read it in the newspaper.
NADLER: I asked for yes or no, I don’t have time.
SESSIONS: All right.
NADLER: There are reports that you “shut George down” when he proposed that meeting with Putin. Is this correct, yes or no?
SESSIONS: Yes. I pushed back, I will just say it that way.
This is a sudden change from Sessions’ go-to “I don’t recall” line when asked about the meeting with Papdopoulos. During his initial confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee after Sessions was tapped to lead the Department of Justice, he told Senator Al Franken (D-Minnesota) that he was “not aware of any of those activities” and that he did not have any communications with the Russians. Sessions said this under sworn testimony.
Lying under oath is a felony under federal law, punishable by up to five years in prison.
Watch the exchange below:
— (((Rep. Nadler))) (@RepJerryNadler) November 14, 2017
Matthew P. Robbins is a freelance economics contributor covering wages, budgets, and taxes. He lives in Chicago, Illinois with his husband and two cats.