Ethics Observations On The AG Sessions-Russian Ambassador Controversy

sessions-3

To bring you up to date—from the Times yesterday:

“…[N]ew questions were raised about Attorney General Jeff Sessions’s ties to the Russians. According to a former senior American official, he met with the Russian ambassador, Sergey I. Kislyak, twice in the past year. The details of the meetings were not clear, but the contact appeared to contradict testimony Mr. Sessions provided Congress during his confirmation hearing in January when he said he “did not have communications with the Russians.”

“I have no idea what this allegation is about,” he said. “It is false.”

Sean Spicer, the Trump White House spokesman, said, “The only new piece of information that has come to light is that political appointees in the Obama administration have sought to create a false narrative to make an excuse for their own defeat in the election.” He added, “There continues to be no there, there.”

…On Wednesday, a Justice Department official confirmed that Mr. Sessions had two conversations with Ambassador Kislyak last year, when he was still a senator, despite testifying at his Jan. 10 confirmation hearing that he had no contact with the Russians. At that hearing, Mr. Sessions was asked what he would do if it turned out to be true that anyone affiliated with the Trump team had communicated with the Russian government in the course of the campaign. He said he was “not aware of any of those activities.”

“I have been called a surrogate at a time or two in that campaign and I didn’t have — did not have communications with the Russians, and I’m unable to comment on it,” Mr. Sessions said at the time.

However, Justice officials acknowledged that Mr. Sessions had spoken with Mr. Kislyak twice: once, among a group of ambassadors who approached him at a Heritage Foundation event during the Republican National Convention in Cleveland in July and, separately, in an office meeting on Sept. 8. The contacts were first reported by The Washington Post.

From today’s Times:

Attorney General Jeff Sessions, facing a storm of criticism over newly disclosed contacts with the Russian ambassador to the United States, recused himself on Thursday from any investigation into charges that Russia meddled in the 2016 presidential election…Many top Democrats demanded Mr. Sessions’s resignation, and a growing number of Republicans declared that he should not take part in any investigation into the case, given his own still largely unexplained role in it.

But Mr. Trump stoutly defended Mr. Sessions, one of his few early champions on Capitol Hill. “He could have stated his response more accurately, but it was clearly not intentional,” he said in a statement, which accused Democrats of engaging in “a total witch hunt.”

…Mr. Sessions insisted there was nothing nefarious about his two meetings with the Russian ambassador, Sergey I. Kislyak, even though he did not disclose them to the Senate during his confirmation hearing and they occurred during the heat of the race between Hillary Clinton, the Democratic nominee, and Mr. Trump, whom Mr. Sessions was advising on national security….

In his account on Thursday of the more substantive meeting, which took place in his Senate office on Sept. 8, Mr. Sessions described Mr. Kislyak as one of a parade of envoys who seek out lawmakers like him to glean information about American policies and promote the agendas of their governments.

“Somehow, the subject of Ukraine came up,” Mr. Sessions said, recalling that the meeting grew testy after the ambassador defended Russia’s conduct toward its neighbor and heaped blame on everybody else. “I thought he was pretty much of an old-style, Soviet-type ambassador,” Mr. Sessions said, noting that he declined a lunch invitation from Mr. Kislyak.

Mr. Sessions’s decision to recuse himself was one of his first public acts as attorney general. He said he made the decision after consulting with Justice Department officials, and he denied misleading Senator Al Franken, Democrat of Minnesota, when he said in his confirmation hearing that he had not met with Russian officials about the Trump campaign.

“In retrospect,” Mr. Sessions told reporters, “I should have slowed down and said, ‘But I did meet one Russian official a couple of times, and that would be the ambassador.’ ”

Observations:

1. All we can do is use the information we have. I believed and continue to believe that the whole “Trump conspired with the Russians to steal the election'” conspiracy theory is unwarranted and part of the ongoing effort by Democrats to undermine the election because they lost it, which is in its own way more despicable than anything the Russians did.

After all, Russia has no obligation to do what is in the best interests of the U.S. and its citizens.

2. Charles Krauthammer said yesterday that this was “a cover-up in search of a crime.” Well said. It is not against the law for any American citizen to meet with or speak with a foreign ambassador. Democrats, as part of their anti-Trump derangement, want us to assume that if anyone remotely connected to the President or the Trump campaign met with any Russian official, including the ambassador, that means that they established “ties” to Russia, and by extension Putin, and that these “ties” were inherently nefarious,  even in the absence of any evidence at all that they were. No fair, unbiased, rational observer can think this mindset is anything but unjust and unhinged.

3. When I was sent by U.S. AID to Mongolia to assist with the legal system’s effort to develop a legal ethics system, I had dinner with the British ambassador. I attended a party at his house. I had lunch with him twice. We spoke of many things: of seas and ships and sealing wax, cricket, baseball, U.S. culture, a mutual friend, Mongolian food, and more. Do I have ties to Great Britain now? Does the D.C. Bar, and the Massachusetts Bar, both of whom employ me, have ties to the U.K., and by extension, Queen Elizabeth?

4. Sessions, says the Times, was asked what he would do if it turned out to be true that anyone affiliated with the Trump team had communicated with the Russian government in the course of the campaign. His answer,  “I have been called a surrogate at a time or two in that campaign and I didn’t have — did not have communications with the Russians, and I’m unable to comment on it” appears to be intended to convey that he did not speak with any Russians in connection with his unofficial role in the Trump campaign, which was essentially as a Senator who supported the candidate. Could it be deceitful? Yes. Was he intending to deceive? It is impossible to tell.  Because it is impossible to tell, it is not perjury. Democrats who are saying that are being so hypocritical, my hypocrisy meter just blew up. They went through an entire campaign in which statements by their candidates and her surrogates walked a truth tightrope a lot slimmer than that on a daily basis.

5. I was at the house of a friend yesterday where a manufactured sign reading “Sessions Resign” was already on display. The Democrats want to get Sessions, as part of their effort to get Trump, and are so eager about it that they are embarrassingly outrunning reality. Is there any reason to think Sessions, acting in his capacity as U.S. Senator, met with the Russian ambassador for nefarious purposes? The first meeting was with other people around him at a public event;  the second was in his Senate office, an unlikely place for treasonous plotting. Sessions’ long career in law and public service contains no episodes that fairly suggest that  his integrity, patriotism and honesty should be questioned—oh, I guess the fact that he is working with the elected President proves that he is inherently untrustworthy, correct?

Aside from that, then.

6.  Some have raised a comparison between Loretta Lynch’s improper meeting with Bill Clinton while the FBI investigation of Hillary was still underway, and the Sessions meeting with the Russian ambassador. On that occasion, Senator Chuck Schumer said that Lynch’s statement that she  didn’t discuss the case with the ex-President was sufficient to clear her of suspicion, and that there was no reason to assume she was lying.  Regarding Sessions, however, Schumer said,

“There cannot be even a scintilla of doubt about the impartiality and fairness of the attorney general, the top law enforcement official of the land. It’s clear Attorney General Sessions does not meet that test. Because the Department of Justice should be above reproach, for the good of the country, Attorney General Sessions should resign.”

That’s an outrageous double standard. First of all, the “scintilla” standard is impossible. Eric Holder was screamingly partisan, undeniably biased. Most recent U.S Attorney Generals have been. Even for those who weren’t—I can think of one at the moment—all it takes to create a “scintilla” are some slanted news stories and partisan conspiracy theories, like this one.  Moreover, the Lynch-Clinton meeting was per se a breach of ethics, as I explained at the time. It created a real., immediate appearance of impropriety, and, in fact, had a real impact on the way the investigation was handled.  A U.S. Senator, however, meeting with an ambassador, does not create such an appearance, and is not improper. Sessions says the campaign wasn’t discussed, just as Lynch said that the investigation wasn’t discussed. Schumer said that Lynch must be believed, but indicates that Sessions shouldn’t be.

His handling of the two episodes cannot be reconciled, except to conclude that Schumer is a shameless partisan hack.

Since Lynch’s conduct was far more troubling than what Sessions did, and her recusal from the matter involved was deemed sufficient by both Democrats and Republicans, Sessions’ refusal must be treated similarly.

7. Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill took to Twitter on Thursday to attack Jeff Sessions, and wrote,

“I’ve been on the Armed Services Committee for 10 years. No call or meeting with Russian ambassador. Ever. Ambassadors call members of Foreign Relations Committee.”

Oops.Then these surfaced:

mckaskill-tweet-2mccaskill-tweet-1Senator McCaskill was a far more active surrogate for Hillary Clinton than Sessions was for Donald Trump. Wait—is Hillary linked to Putin now? Was the Clinton campaign plotting to have the Russians “hack the election”? Will the upcoming investigation include McCaskill? Was she lying? Her denial was much more unequivocal than that of Sessions. What was she hiding?

Best—timed— hypocrisy— ever.

8. Make no mistake, however: Sessions mishandled the episode spectacularly. He knows that the he has to be “Caesar’s wife”; he knows that he is a marked man; he knows that the Russia conspiracy is the current choice by the Trump “resistance” to bring down his presidency before it even begins. What a stupid, stupid way to answer the question at his hearing, using Clintonian parsing. The President would be justified in firing him, except that Trump has a valid and competing interest in not allowing Democrats to pick off his team. It is really a lose-lose situation.

Helluva job, Jeffie!

9.  Ann Althouse, whose  analysis regarding Sessions’ conduct comports with my own (“There is no there there”) , writes,

Do the Democrats see their only hope as getting an investigation going and somehow reliving Watergate? It’s so sad, and so negative. So backward-looking and devoid of promise. But perhaps that is all they’ve got.And then there’s the media. The NYT and the Washington Post have a motivation to ally with the Democratic Party in its last-ditch effort to Watergatize Trump after Trump’s endless criticisms of them. And this anti-Trump approach may get them a spike in readership, even as it repels some readers like me.

I’m missing the sense that I’m getting the normal news. It seems unfair and shoddy not to cover the President the way you’d cover any President. What looks like an effort to stigmatize Trump as not normal has — to my eyes — made the media abnormal.

I know some journalists argued that the normal approach shouldn’t apply to covering Trump, because Trump not normal, but that’s not my idea of professionalism. Even if they were to regard professionalism in those terms — if the object of the news goes low, journalism should go low — they’s still be on the hook to continually maintain the perception that their antagonist really is low, and if they use their pages to strain to portray him as low to justify their continual debased presentation of the news, they’re self-dealing and double counting.

The more seemingly normal Trump becomes — as with his speech to Congress the other day — the more the anti-Trump approach of the news media feels like a hackish alliance with the Democratic Party in its sad, negative, backward-looking effort to disrupt the President the people elected.

Bingo.

63 Comments

Filed under Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement, Social Media, This Helps Explain Why Trump Is President

63 responses to “Ethics Observations On The AG Sessions-Russian Ambassador Controversy

  1. That was a fabulous blog Jack!

    Well done.

  2. Nothing wrong with meeting with Russians. But why be untruthful about it? To the Senate Committee under oath, no less.

    • My guess is that in the atmosphere where he knows the Democrats will use anything as evidence of wrongdoing, he stupidly answered the question like a lawyer.

      • C’mon, a (middlingly good) lawyer wouldn’t do that. Would you? Under any circumstances?

      • Greg

        No, Sessions didn’t answer like a lawyer, which I take to mean answering exactly the question asked and no more, volunteering no information not specifically asked for, and parsing one’s words with great care to ensure that they cannot be misunderstood or twisted out of context. Instead, Sessions answered like a normal person baffled by a hostile, rambling question. He was asked, in essence, what he would do if he learned of any wrongful communications with the Russians by Trump campaign staffers. His answer was, “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.” A person answering like a lawyer would have stopped after the first sentence. Sessions’ mistake was to add the leaden quip in his second sentence, without closely parsing his words. A person answering like lawyer, if he had added the second sentence at all, would have been careful to say, “I did not have .wrongful communications with the Russians,” which was what Sessions clearly meant, and doubtless what everyone in the room understood him to mean.

        As background, it’s important to understand the context of the question: Sessions had already been asked repeatedly whether he had had any contacts with the Russians “about the 2016 election,” and he had answered, “No.” That answer was truthful, or at least no evidence has arisen that would suggest that it is not truthful.

        Sessions was then faced by this question from Al Franken: “CNN has just published a story and I’m telling you this about a story that has just been published, I’m not expecting you to know whether it’s true or not, but CNN just published a story, alleging that the intelligence community provided documents to the president-elect last week that included information that quote ‘Russian operatives claimed to have compromising personal and financial information about Mr. Trump.’ These documents also allegedly say quote ‘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 is just 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 Russians in the course of this campaign, what will you do?”

        What was this rambling question about? If it meant anything, it was about what Sessions would do if he learned that someone affiliated with the Trump campaign had engaged in some sort of wrongful communications with the Russians — communicating with the Russians about “compromising personal and financial information about Mr. Trump,” or communication with the Russians as part of a “continuing exchange of information,” or perhaps communicating with the Russians “about the campaign.” It was not a question about what he would do if he learned that a campaign staffer had chatted with a Russian at a cocktail party, or at a conference that they had both happened to attend, or in a meeting with 26 Senators of both parties, or if the staffer had any other entirely appropriate contact or conversation with a Russian.

        In the context of that question and the preceding ones, Sessions’ statement that, “I did not have communications with the Russians,” clearly meant, “I did not have wrongful communications with the Russians.” Moreover, everyone present at the hearing would have understood that to be his meaning. Not one single senator on the panel could possibly have believed that Sessions was claiming not to have run into any Russians in the course of his political peregrinations, as he and all of the other senators did from time to time, especially those on the Foreign Affairs committee,

        As an aside, in answer to the inevitable comment that by not answering like a lawyer, Sessions demonstrated that he is an incompetent lawyer and hence not fit to be Attorney General: First, “answering like a lawyer” is frowned upon in Senate hearings, or for that matter, in job interviews, which is what the hearing was. If Sessions had done that, we would be reading denunciations of him for having evaded the Senators’ questions by answering like a lawyer. And second, Sessions has an actual, extensive history as a practicing lawyer, and there is no question that he is a very fine one.

    • valkygrrl

      More than that, he wasn’t even untruthful to a direct question about himself, he was dodging (which is typical of both parties in confirmation hearings,) why dodge with an untruth, you can dodge with just about anything vague.

  3. fattymoon

    Do we have a conspiracy? Maybe…
    Somebody Wants Jeff Sessions’ Head
    Is the CIA behind the leak that’s damning Trump’s attorney general? https://medium.com/defiant/somebody-wants-jeff-sessions-head-5d6f65b70a05#.e9903hhei

    YOU REALLY MUST READ THIS VERY LONG PIECE. Much background which may help readers here get a better grasp about recent events. TRUMP, PUTIN, AND THE NEW COLD WAR http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2017/03/06/trump-putin-and-the-new-cold-war

  4. valkygrrl

    5. I was at the house of a friend yesterday where a manufactured sign reading “Sessions Resign” was already on display. The Democrats want to get Sessions, as part of their effort to get Trump

    Let’s be fair, even if it were Jeb! (who wouldn’t be seeing this level of opposition because while he’s many things, he’s not an asshole who campaigned on hate and fear,) Democrats would still want to get Sessions due to his dubious civil rights history.

    • His civil rights history was fine. He was smeared due to ambiguous statements made in private.

    • I have vowed to shoot this down every time it rears its silly head: What a President campaigned on, or how he campaigned, is off the table as a justification for attacking him. THAT argument is settled and over: a sufficient number of Americans decided that regardless, he was the best choice for the job. You can’t re-litigate the election. The fact that the Democrats are shows their essential contempt for democratic processes when they don’t support them.

      • Warren

        You’re conflating two different things here: 1) The legitimacy of the election results, which have been ratified; and 2) The integrity of the campaign and what it was based on. “What a President campaigned on, or how he campaigned, is off the table as a justification for attacking him.” That is patent nonsense. By this rationale, we ought to simply ignore the promises the President made while he campaigned, the coalition of nativists, white nationalists, and xenophobes he brought out of hiding by either pandering to them or ignoring their endorsements, the candidate’s character deficits amply revealed by the campaign, and so on? You’re taking the position that accepting the results of the election as legitimate and criticizing the President for anything he did before the inauguration are mutually exclusive. Not only is this hairsplitting, it sounds like bullshit. All the stuff that happened before the election is “off the table” with regard to criticizing the President now that he is in office? Come on.

        • Chris

          Agreed 100%, Warren. Trump didn’t stop being Trump the moment he was elected. His character before the election told us exactly what kind of president he would be, and nothing he’s done since has countered that.

        • Chris Marschner

          Warren, please stop calling me a xenophobic racist because I did not vote for HRC.

          By not acknowledging any person not deemed a deplorable who may have supported Trump you in effect called every support a bigot.

        • Rich in CT

          [T]he coalition of nativists, white nationalists, and xenophobes he brought out of hiding

          I keep hearing this repeated over and over again, as though it were true. What I saw was [insert obscure hateful figure here] endorse Trump, and then the news report this endorsement immediately, repeatedly, and frequently. Suddenly, every creature of the deep started endorsing Trump, and suddenly this “basket of deplorable” got lots of free attention despite doing nothing of note or value. Then Trump get blamed for all these creatures….

          Ever notice how PRO-Israeli Trump is? How he denounced the United Nations for censuring Israel for the settlements in Palistine? Yet somehow, Trump is being blamed for a series of threats against Jewish organizations, because, remember “Trump is a Nazi”, therefore anti-Semites must think he is there champion. (Never mind he denounced the threats, caused by one nutjob (http://www.latimes.com/nation/nationnow/la-na-jewish-community-centers-20170303-story.html), during the STATE OF THE UNION ADDRESS (or a reasonable facsimile there of).

          Repeat baseless and exaggerated claims as justification for more baseless and exaggerated claims. The nation’s deplorables would endorse the Reverend Al Sharpton if it got them as much attention as endorsing Trump. Nobody would be talking about an ‘alt right’ if they received contemptuous disregard they deserve.

        • joed68

          “….coalition of nativists, white nationalists, and xenophobes…”
          So the new definition of “coalition” is, what, 30 or more?

          • I know right.

            It’s like when the journalists’ wet dreams came to reality when that Theodore Spencer or Richard Sponsor or whatever the hell name of that Apt Pupil wannabe guy showed up on the scene.

            “Ooooo we finally have a Nazi who supports Trump as a fuhrer! Let’s go to the Nazi rally and show the world how America has a massive racist underbelly that wants to return the entire nation back to a lily white pure country!

            Ok, we’re here… ooo… there’s only like 200 people here…. Yeesh. Try angling the cameras so it looks like more. Maybe make it look like 225 people are here. Ok let’s interview someone… ooops you’re a journalist. Let’s try interviewing this guy. Oh crap a journalist also. Let’s interview this one. Ah dammit he’s with the Washington post. Is there anyone here who isn’t a journalist covering the massive group of Nazis?????”

  5. fattymoon

    On Jeff Sessions the man… first, some background on the Southern Poverty Law Center which published the piece below… https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Southern_Poverty_Law_Center

    The SPLC article on Sessions… https://www.splcenter.org/hatewatch/2016/11/18/jeff-sessions-champion-anti-muslim-and-anti-immigrant-extremists

    I lived 30 years in Alabama, a state which, to this day, has one of the most regressive tax policies in the nation. I was there when George Wallace was governor. The publisher of the Athens News Courier warned me never to write anything negative about George Wallace after I wrote a critical piece. I’ve been harrassed by the Ku Klux Klan. The current governor of Alabama is a disgrace to politics… http://www.gq.com/story/affair-robert-bentley-alabama-governor I loved the real people there. I lived with them for 30 years. But the politicians? Lord God were they corrupt! Both parties. Look at the current governor… a putrid disgrace to politics. http://www.gq.com/story/affair-robert-bentley-alabama-governor

    Like Trump, Sessions is leaving town, one way or the other.

    • Sorry, SPLC is thoroughly discredited as a far left smear machine. You should know better. I stop reading whenever an advocate conflates illegal immigration with immigration, which that first article does. Then I know they are liars–and so should you.

      The Bentley article doesn’t even mention Sessions. What does that have to do with the issue?

      You are absurdly wrong and wrongheaded to make a statement like your last. Elections matter, democracy matters, process matters, and anarchists are a public nuisance and an enemy of civilization.

      • fattymoon

        Thoroughly discredited by whom? The National Review? Breitbart? (Both have links but I’m trying to keep ’em down). C’mon Jack, you have to look at who’s doing the discrediting. Of course, I can just as easily claim the SPLC is an upstanding, fair lefty machine. After all, they’re on record of supporting the Women’s March on Washington. So, again, I think it’s a matter of opinion.

        I know the Bently article doesn’t mention Sessions. I shouldn’t have included it.

        However, I take issue when you said, Sessions’s “civil rights history was fine. He was smeared due to ambiguous statements made in private.”

        I don’t know how many times I heard public officials in Athens and Limestone County use the word “nigger” in off-the-record conversations with me. Sessions has admitted using the word. That disqualifies him to be the nation’s attorney general, in my humble opinion. Leopard don’t change his spots. Ok, George Wallace did at the end of his life. We all got shit to atone for at the end, yes?

  6. Arthur in Maine

    I can’t miss certain ironies in the Democratic Party’s and the media’s (sorry for the redundancy) newly-embraced paranoia of the Russians. First, large parts of it apparently want to embrace a system that failed for the Russians – specifically, socialism. And by nominating Hillary, they were actively pursuing the system that the Russians adopted after the Soviet Union fell – specifically, an oligarchy.

    Unless, of course, the dudgeon is all for show. But it couldn’t be that, could it? Naaaaah. Couldn’t be.

    And yes, Schumer is a shameless partisan hack. As is Warren, Pelosi, McCaskill et al.

    • joed68

      “First, large parts of it apparently want to embrace a system that failed for the Russians – specifically, socialism.”
      It’s not the first time they’ve been ambivalent. The Constitution is another good example.

  7. Chris

    This is frustrating. It’s like every time another one of Trump’s people is caught lying about their contacts with Russia, you forget all about the last one.

    There is a pattern here, Jack, which you are ignoring out of a bias toward the office of the presidency, and a bias against the media and the left. I am not even saying these biases are unjustified. But in this case, they are causing you to miss the forest for the trees.

    There is a reason so many of Trump’s people have lied about their contacts with Russia. We need to find out what that reason is.

    • fattymoon

      I agree, Chris. Jack, you do have a bias towards the presidency. You do have a bias against the media and the left. And, echoing Chris yet again, your biases may even be justified to a certain extent. Still, seems like a lot of smoke in the capitol these days. And you know what they say about smoke.

    • Chris Marschner

      What about Shumers contacts. There are photos of Schumer and Putin having a grand time in NY.

      You continue to label all answers that don’t comport with your anti- trump stance as lies. Where was your outrage when Holder was caught lying about Fast and Furious.

      • Chris

        What about Shumers contacts. There are photos of Schumer and Putin having a grand time in NY.

        What is your point here? The Russians have not been accused by our intelligence agencies of trying to assist Democrats. There is no pattern of Democrats meeting with Russian ambassadors and then lying about it, all while the leader of the party engages in open flirtation with Putin and refuses to condemn crimes as egregious as the murder of journalists even when directly asked.

        This is just look-over-there-ism.

        • Chris Marschner

          Why would the Russians want Trump (an unknown) over HRC. They already knew they could play her . They got her to not ask questions about the uranium deal brokered I believe by her son in law.

          Trump campaigned on an America first theme. . HRC campaigned on globalism.

          You can’t have it both ways condemning him for his national populism and then convict him as an agent of a foreign power.

          Here is a theory. Assumption: Russians expected HRC to win as did everyone else. Goal: work to destabilize american political process to gain leverage in geopolitics. Tactic: Weaken front runner HRC by leaking info DNC made easy to get. Hold back most damning info for later use after election.

          What happens if Trump wins: Even better. Create illusion Trump conspired with Russians thus causing main political parties to focus on destroying each other rather than what we are doing RIGHT NOW.

          • Chris

            “Why would the Russians want Trump (an unknown) over HRC”

            Because Trump is enormously pro-Russia and HRC isn’t.

            Wow, that was easy. Got any tough ones?

      • joed68

        What about the Clinton Foundation, Uranium One, and the Russians?

    • There is a reason. Because anyone with an inkling of sense realized that any communications with Russian officials would be blown out of proportion and piled on by a hostile media. That doesn’t make it right to hide the communications. But ambitious politicians avoiding stupid controversy through deception is hardly extraordinary.

    • Yeah. The obvious pattern is-

      The media is desperate to make hay out of any contact with Russia. Trump is sensitive to this and knows even the most harmless contact *will be* exaggerated. So his people panic and lie. They shouldn’t. But they do.

      If the media was friggin desperate to make a China based smear or a … hell… Liechtenstein based smear…. Trump’s people would lie about that to even over the most mundane connections.

      It’s friggin obvious to everyone but the most partisanly blind hacks. Like you.

      • valkygrrl

        People also lie because others might try to make political hay out of, say, adultery. Do you remember anyone who did that and how congress reacted?

        • One needs then to decide the nature of the particular lie. And if it truly rates to the level of perjury or not. Or if it was even a lie.

          If the context of the question implies a particular time frame then falsifying answers drawn from outside the time frame in question don’t make the given answer a lie.

          So no, attacks on Clinton’s perjury doesn’t justify this attack. Until you claim Sessions actually perjured himself.

          I think Jack made the case on that earlier.

  8. Chris Marschner

    Jack,
    Why are we not asking the grand inquisitors to ask direct unambiguous questions.

    Al Franken seemed to construct the question on the fly with a long wided recitation of an emerging news story relating to the issue of Trump surrogates conspiring with Russians during the campaign.

    Why did he (Franken) not simply ask if he (Sessions) had any conversations with any Russian person about the Presidential campaign. Its seems to me that is the relevant issue.

    Technically, the way Sessions should have handled the question is simply to ask for clarity to the question. Seems like a hypothetical question to me that no matter how he answered it it would condemn Trump.

    • Greg

      An appropriate answer would have been, “I don’t know what the hell you’re talking about, Al, but it sounds like a lot of horseshit to me.” It was Sessions’ effort to say that using polite boilerplate tha led him into trouble.

      • Chris Marschner

        I was going to suggest all those up for confirmation reply with, “can you be more specific with your question”. These long winded prologues to a question are simply a means to create confusion.

        • Chris

          It’s really great how every time someone in the Trump administration is caught lying, people here blame it on the mean liberals. And yet we’re the ones “infected by partisan bias.”

          • Chris Marschner

            There is a huge difference between partisan bias and evaluating a question and an answer.

            The question posed by Al Franken related to a CNN report about Russian involvement with Trump campaign staff/surrogates. He answered the question apprpropriately. If Franken wanted to know if Sessions had met with any Russian operatives on any issue during the campaign Franken might have gotten a different answer. You continue to claim someone lies when they dont answer the unasked question. I notice you make permit Pelosi, and McCaskill to qualify their tweets once their comments are proven false by photographic evidence to the contrary. Their rebuttal is that they had no one on one meetings. Neither did Sessions. The meeting in Sessions office had multiple personnel in attendance. Just like Pelosi and McCaskill but their qualifying statements are OK

            At times you make some good points to which affect my analysis. But I often find it difficult to reconcile your analysis when you give no quarter to anyone that is at odds with your partisan leanings.

            • Chris

              “I notice you make permit Pelosi, and McCaskill to qualify their tweets once their comments are proven false by photographic evidence to the contrary.”

              How could you notice something that did not happen? I haven’t defended either Pelosi or McCaskill, who were both lying to smear Sessions and Trump.

          • Yall are infected grossly by partisan bias.

            If Chris Marschner is also, that doesn’t change that you are definitely. (and CM’s almost more serenely objective on these things than Jack is and I’d rate Jack’s objectivity at 9.9 out of 10)

  9. fattymoon

    Side note… so there was a press gaggle yesterday… https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2017/03/02/press-gaggle-press-secretary-sean-spicer-en-route-joint-base-andrews but I do not see a White House Press Briefing scheduled for today. And I so look forward to these!

  10. Other Bill

    So I presume the Democrats want the election to be voided and have the presidency awarded to HRC because the Trump campaign conspired with the Russians to have them cause him to win the election. Interesting, but I’m not sure there’s a Constitutional or statutory provision for a presidential election Mulligan. I’m guessing Trump will need to be impeached since I doubt he will resign. So then Pence becomes president and assuming he was complicit, he will need to be impeached, assuming a president and vice-president can’t be impeached pursuant to a single impeachment proceeding. Then won’t Paul Ryan be made president? Interesting times.

    I sure wish the FBI would hurry up and get the DOJ to indict Trump and everyone else involved so we could get this over.

  11. fattymoon

    STOP THE PRESSES! Here’s the problem everyone here, myself included, faces… why we argue… endlessly…

    WHY FACTS DON’T CHANGE OUR MINDS
    New discoveries about the human mind show the limitations of reason. http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2017/02/27/why-facts-dont-change-our-minds

    Eye opening stuff.

  12. E2 (nee Elizabeth I)

    Someone can define for me the exact purpose of a Foreign Ambassador in the first place. Is it not an avenue for open talk between nations — even if they are — and especially so — at odds with each other?

    Let’s see what the NYTs would have said if Sessions had met with the ambassador from Australia? From Tierra del Fuego? From Canada? Oh, the horror! Resign, resign, resign?

    Let’s just do away with all foreign embassies — since apparently it is not proper to engage in dialogue with them.

    And while we’re at it, kill the United Nations, too. We pay for it, and it is totally laughable that a bunch of castrati are trying in vain to find peace in the world.

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