US AG omits Russian details in security clearance form
US AG omits Russian details in security clearance form
25 May, 2017, 16:39
CNN is reporting tonight that according to the Department of Justice, Attorney General Jeff Sessions did not disclose the meetings he had with Russian officials on the form he had to fill out for his security clearance.
Sessions reportedly filed a form, SF-86, that asked him to list "any contact" he or his family had with a foreign government or its representatives over the prior seven years.
The Justice Department's Deputy Director of Public Affairs Ian Prior issued a response to CNN's story Wednesday evening, portraying Sessions as having followed the instructions given to him.
Sessions met with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak at least twice a year ago but during his confirmation hearing in January he testified that he "did not have communications" with the Russians during the presidential campaign.
The FBI declined to comment.
This is the second time Sessions has been caught not being forthcoming about his meetings with Kislyak, which took place during the course of the presidential campaign. The attorney general said that it "got to be a little bit of a testy conversation".
A legal expert who regularly assists officials in filling out the form disagrees with the Justice Department's explanation, suggesting that Sessions should have disclosed the meetings.
At the March 2 press conference where he announced his recusal, Sessions said he talked to Kislyak about a trip he made to Russian Federation in 1991, terrorism and Ukraine.
The department said Sessions' staff relied on the guidance of the FBI investigator handling the background check, who advised that meetings with foreign dignitaries "connected with Senate activities" did not have to be reported on the form. Al Franken, D-Minnesota, "I did not have communications with the Russians".
"I'm not aware of any of those activities", Sessions said. The pair met once in Sessions' office and also spoke at an event hosted by the Heritage Foundation.
Connecticut Sen. Richard Blumenthal, a Democrat on the judiciary committee, called for Sessions to testify publicly after the news of Sessions' omissions broke.
Sessions later confirmed the meetings, after the Washington Post revealed them.
Justice countered that was because the Federal Bureau of Investigation told him not to.
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