Attorney General Jeff Sessions gave a heated reply to questions from Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) at a House Judiciary Committee hearing on Nov. 14. (Reuters)
Sometimes Attorney General Jeff Sessions has a hard time remembering things. Testifying before the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, he even seemed to forget his own forgetfulness when Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) asked whether Sessions had, as transcripts indicated, answered “I don't recall” dozens of times in prior appearances on Capitol Hill.
“I have no idea,” Sessions replied.
Allow me to help, Mr. Attorney General.
Sessions and other members of President Trump's team seem to require reminders from the media quite often. I've done my best to remember some examples, below.
Sessions told the House Judiciary Committee that he did not recall participating in a Trump campaign meeting involving George Papadopoulos until the media jogged his memory.
“I had no recollection of this until I saw these news reports,” he said.
Papadopoulos is the former low-level national security adviser who tried during the White House race to arrange a sit-down between Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin — a proposal discussed at the meeting attended by Sessions. Sessions previously told members of Congress that he was not aware of anyone on the Trump campaign communicating with Russians.
That was not a lie, he insisted Tuesday; he merely forgot about Papadopoulos.
Sessions also now remembers discouraging the meeting. “I pushed back and said you shouldn't do it,” Sessions recalled. “So I don't think it is right to accuse me of doing something wrong.”
Trump similarly told reporters Nov. 3 that he could not recall what happened at the meeting involving Papadopoulos. “I don't remember much about that meeting,” the president said. “It was a very unimportant meeting.”
Donald Trump Jr. told the New York Times in March that he never participated in a meeting with Russians — “certainly none that I was representing the campaign in any way, shape or form,” he said.
Four months later, the Times reported that he met in June 2016 with a Kremlin-connected Russian lawyer who he believed would provide damaging information about Hillary Clinton.
In an interview with Sean Hannity on Fox News, Trump Jr. said he had simply forgotten about the meeting. “It was such a nothing,” he said. “I literally wouldn't have remembered the meeting.”
White House adviser Jared Kushner, the president's son-in-law, also participated in the meeting with the Russian lawyer and also said he forgot about it.
In congressional testimony July 24, shortly after the Times published its report, Kushner described the meeting as “one I did not recall at all until I was reviewing documents and emails in response to congressional requests for information.”
During the Hannity interview, Trump Jr. was asked by the host whether “anybody else at any point in the campaign said, 'Oh, I got information about Hillary,' that you remember?”
Trump Jr. replied: “No. No.”
He apparently forgot about his private Twitter communications with WikiLeaks, including one message in which WikiLeaks directed Trump Jr. to a website with “many great stories the press are missing” in the hacked emails of Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta. The Atlantic obtained the messages and published them Monday.
In his January confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Sessions testified that he “did not have communications with the Russians” during the campaign. Then The Washington Post reported in March that Sessions met twice during the presidential race with Russia's ambassador to the United States.
Sessions insisted that his original statement had been truthful because he had been speaking about his work as a Trump surrogate; he met with the ambassador in his capacity as a senator, he said, so he did not consider the meetings relevant to his testimony.
“When asked about whether I had any meetings with Russians by the reporter in March, we immediately recalled the conversation and the encounter I had at the convention and the meeting in my office and made that public,” Sessions told the Senate Intelligence Committee in June.
Sessions also told the Senate Intelligence Committee in June that he did not recall many details of his conversations with the Russian ambassador but said “certainly not one thing happened that was improper in any one of those meetings.”
In July, The Post reported that the ambassador told his superiors in Moscow that he and Sessions had indeed discussed campaign-related matters, contrary to Sessions's previous assertion that he “never had meetings with Russian operatives or Russian intermediaries about the Trump campaign.”