United States Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, is being accused of perjury: willfully telling an untruth in a court after having taken an oath or affirmation. One found guilty of perjury can be imprisoned for up to five years. We can all agree that the accusation itself, being directed at our actual Attorney General, is damning.
Democratic Congressman Ted Lieu (CA-33rd) discussed Jeff Sessions’s alleged perjury during an interview with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer. Lieu stated: “He [Sessions] lied under oath at least twice and most recently, both Carter Page and George Papadopoulos, based on their testimony and their statements, they show that Jeff Sessions contradicted himself when he said he was not aware of any campaign official talking to the Russians.”
During Senate hearings — in addition to not being able to remember fairly basic things dozens of times —Sessions said that he hadn’t seen anything that would lead him to believe that the Trump campaign colluded with Russia in any way and that he didn’t remember hearing of any meetings between campaign officials and Russian officials. Yet Carter Page and George Papadopoulos, both of whom are former foreign policy advisers with the Trump campaign, dispute Sessions’s testimony. Perhaps Sessions should have answered literally every question with some iteration of Cannot Remember or Error 404: File Not Found. This would have terrified the nation about the cognitive fitness of our Attorney General, but I think most of us where already three-quarters of the way to terrified anyway. Apart from which, knowingly withholding information can also be considered perjury.
For his part, Carter Page told investigators that he had informed Sessions about a trip Page was making to Russia during Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign. George Papadopoulos has gone on the record — the serious record; Mueller’s record — that Jeff Sessions was actually present at a meeting during which Papadopoulos suggested that he could arrange a meeting between then-candidate Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin. Papadopoulos has been indicted and pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about Russian tampering during the 2016 Presidential election, so perhaps necessity has dictated that he sharpen his own memory. We still don’t know the full extent of Papadopoulos’s quid pro quo plea deal. What other information might he have provided Mueller?
Now we know that Jeff Sessions, the highest ranking law enforcement official in the United States lied under oath. Patrick Leahy and (prior to his departure) Al Franken, both Democractic members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, asked the FBI to investigate whether those lies are examples of perjury. Ostensibly the issue will come down to proving that he willfully lied/misled/pretended to have forgotten. If the FBI decides Sessions did in fact commit perjury, and he is charged, he could face up to five years in prison.