The Transom, Ben Domenech, March 2, 2017
Dear reader: I’m going to write this very slowly and carefully in the hopes that the hundreds of members of the American national media who receive this email every morning stay with me through it all.
Have you all lost your ever-loving minds?
Last night a piece about Jeff Sessions at the Washington Post set the internet on fire with claims of undisclosed contacts between him and the Russian ambassador to the United States. Internet people ran with the idea that Sessions had perjured himself in front of the Senate given his response to a question from Al Franken, and a written question from Pat Leahy. But both questions were framed very clearly in the context of contact with the Russians concerning the Trump campaign, and Sessions’ response clearly stated that he considered himself to have no contact as a campaign surrogate.
The WSJ has a more accurate description of the whole thing than the Post, so read that here. http://vlt.tc/2qu5 “Mr. Sessions, in a statement placed on Twitter late Wednesday by his spokeswoman, said: “I never met with any Russian officials to discuss issues of the campaign. I have no idea what this allegation is about. It is false.”
“During his confirmation hearing for attorney general in January, Mr. Sessions, a Republican senator from Alabama, testified under oath that he had no contact with Russian officials as a campaign surrogate and never discussed the 2016 election with Russian officials.
“But Mr. Sessions spoke with the Russian ambassador to the U.S., Sergei Kislyak, while the Republican National Convention was under way in Cleveland last summer, according to his spokeswoman, Sarah Flores. He also spoke with Mr. Kislyak on another occasion last year, in a meeting in his Senate office, she said, clarifying that the meeting was in person and not on the phone as she had initially said.”
There is also this, from CNN’s favorite Republican: “If there is something there and it goes up the chain of investigation, it is clear to me that Jeff Sessions, who is my dear friend, can not make this decision about Trump,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.), adding that a special prosecutor might be needed.”
I see. An independent commission or a select committee may well be needed to examine Russian influence in the past election. But a special prosecutor? No, that is not the standard for this type of situation, and Graham should know that, given his role in pushing the impeachment of Bill Clinton. He should also know that Senators routinely meet and have contact with ambassadors from all sorts of nations, constantly and regardless whether they are senior Senators on committees. In my two years working for then-Junior Senator John Cornyn the flow of ambassadors through his office was constant and routine. Sessions, a long-time member of the Armed Services Committee, would doubtlessly be an even more frequent recipient of such contacts. To have one meeting and one run-in at a Heritage Foundation event is rather low, honestly, and to go after a fellow Senator for it is little more than backstabbing.
Witness the example of Claire McCaskill, another Senator on the Armed Services Committee, who tweeted forthrightly last night that she has never had contact with the Russian ambassador, that he would only talk to the Foreign Relations Committee. She forgot that she had tweeted twice in the past three years that she was off to meet with or talk with the Russian ambassador – and that’s just the times she tweeted it. http://vlt.tc/2qu6 Perhaps we should investigate that, along with every other attendee at any event who has run into a Russian. That would include a host of Senate Democrats, of course. http://vlt.tc/2qu7
There are real and legitimate questions to ask about this Russia stuff – questions about Trump’s finances and about a few people in his inner circle who have questionable ties. But to depict Jeff Sessions as some conduit for Russian influence in the election is madness. It is straight up Alex Jones level conspiracy talk. People who claim it are crazy people, and the claim by some journalists that Sessions would not last the week because of this shows the depth of insanity that is afflicting the media at this instant. Let’s talk when you calm down.