Los Angeles Times: Sessions said his omission of meetings from a security form was not intended to mislead

November 14, 2017
In The News

Atty. Gen. Jeff Sessions insisted Tuesday that he omitted mention of meetings with the then-Russian ambassador when he filled out security forms because he had been advised that senators need not list official meetings.

Sessions said he was told by his executive assistant that, given the volume of meetings senators take part in, “we were not required to list” them on forms that asked for any communication with foreign officials.

The attorney general said he thought that approach “was reasonable.”

Rep. Ted Lieu, a Democrat from Los Angeles, retorted that nothing on the form, known as an SF-86, said senators should be treated differently than any other person seeking a security clearance.

The exchange was part of Lieu’s effort to remind the audience of something that had been acknowledged repeatedly during the House Judiciary Committee hearing: Sessions told a Senate committee that he never met with Russians, but later acknowledged two meetings with former Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak. One of those meetings was nearly an hour long and occurred in his office, Sessions said.

Sessions also has acknowledged that he did not mention at least two meetings in which other Trump campaign aides talked about Russia.

Sessions has insisted throughout the day that he did not change his story, but merely adjusted it after his memory was refreshed by news accounts of the meetings. He said he had not considered the Kislyak meeting germane because it concerned policy matters he was involved in as a senator.

“I have not had any private dealings” with Russians, he said.