Attorney General Jeff Sessions maintained Tuesday that he has “always told the truth,” refuting before House lawmakers reports that he may have lied about meetings with Trump campaign officials regarding contact with Russian officials.
Sessions seemed keen early on in testimony before the House Judiciary Committee to address fresh reports that he failed to disclose in prior testimony debriefings former Trump campaign officials George Papadopoulos and Carter Page gave after meeting with Russian operatives.
“I do now recall the March 2016 meeting at Trump Hotel that Mr. Papadopoulos attended, but I have no clear recollection of the details of what he said during that meeting," Sessions said. "After reading his account, and to the best of my recollection, I believe that I wanted to make clear to him that he was not authorized to represent the campaign with the Russian government, or any other foreign government for that matter.
“But I did not recall this event, which occurred 18 months before my testimony of a few weeks ago, and would gladly have reported it.”
Papadopoulos recently pleaded guilty to making false statements as part of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian meddling and potential collusion with Trump campaign associates
Sessions testified at the Senate Judiciary Committee last month, and testified that he had no knowledge of any contacts between the Trump campaign and Russia.
“I did not, and I’m not aware of anyone else that did, and I don’t believe it happened,” Sessions said in his former testimony.
But according to released testimony to the House Intelligence Committee by former Trump foreign policy adviser Carter Page, Page met with Russian Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich in July 2016 at an event in Moscow and briefed the campaign before and after the trip.
In Page’s testimony, he said he “mentioned [the meeting] briefly to Senator Sessions as I was walking out the door” of a dinner just days before his trip to Russia.
Sessions said he did “not challenge” Page’s recollection, but said he had “no memory” of his presence at a dinner or “any passing conversation he may have had with me as he left.”
“All of you have been in a campaign," Sessions told lawmakers. "But most of you have not participated in a presidential campaign. And none of you had a part in the Trump campaign,” Sessions said. “It was a brilliant campaign in many ways. But it was a form of chaos every day from day one. We traveled all the time, sometimes to several places in one day. Sleep was in short supply.”
Sessions said that in all of his testimony, he could only do his “best” to answer all of the questions as he “understands them” and to the best of his memory.
“But I will not accept and reject accusations that I have ever lied under oath. That is a lie,” Sessions said.
Sessions’ highly-anticipated testimony comes just hours after the Justice Department announced that he had appointed senior federal prosecutors to make recommendations as to whether any matter not currently under investigation should be opened, and whether they require further resources or the appointment of a special counsel.