Attorney General Jeff Sessions and the White House have always maintained that Sessions took his meetings with Russian Ambassador Surgey Kislyak in his capacity as a sitting senator on the Senate Armed Services Committee. Sen. John McCain chairs that committee and he had a few simple questions during Tuesday’s hearing about Sessions’ Kislyak meetings and all the important Russia-related security issues the two discussed.
McCain: Did you raise concerns about Russia’s support for [Syrian] President Bashar al-Assad and his campaign of indiscriminate violence against his own citizens, including his use of chemical weapons?
Sessions: I don’t recall whether that was discussed or not.
McCain: Did you raise concerns about Russia’s interference in our electoral process or its interference in the electoral processes of our allies?
Sessions: I don’t recall that being discussed.
McCain: At those meetings, if you spoke with Kislyak in your capacity as a member of the Armed Services Committee, you presumably talked with him about Russia-related security issues that you have demonstrated as important to you as a member of that committee.
Register a pause here: right about now, Sessions realizes that McCain isn’t doing him any favors, and asks him to repeat the question. Uh oh.
McCain: I don’t recall you as being particularly vocal on such issues.
Sessions: Um, repeat that, Senator McCain. I’m sorry.
McCain: The whole Russia-related security issues that you demonstrated as important to you as a member of the committee—Did you raise those with him?
Sessions stutters here, so let’s cut to the chase: No—he did not.
McCain: In other words, Russian-related security issues in your capacity as the chairman of the Strategic Forces Subcommittee—what Russia-related security issues did you hold hearings on or otherwise demonstrate a keen interest in?
Sessions: We may have discussed that. I just don’t have a real recall of the meeting—I was not making a report about it to anyone. I just was basically willing to meet and see what he discussed.
McCain: And his response was?
Sessions: I don’t recall.
Wow, that is just damning. Time to dispense with the notion that Sessions met with Kislyak to explore Russia-related security issues.
McCain—who hasn’t given the most coherent hearing performances lately—managed to dismantle Sessions’ rationale for taking those meetings with a very basic line of questioning. Why did you take those meetings? How did they relate to issues you’re passionate about? What did you discuss?
If Sessions and Kislyak didn’t talk about any of the things McCain inquired about, what exactly did they discuss? Sessions has only been able to recount them touching on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. So that took up the entirety of two meetings with Kislyak?
Just a wager that Sessions doesn’t recall.
Watch it below:
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