ACLU Files Ethics Complaint Against Jeff Sessions for Lying to Congress

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Revelations about Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ lying under oath have prompted widespread demands for him to resign: Getty Images

By Glynn Wilson –

MOBILE, Ala. — Donald Trump’s Attorney General, Jeff Sessions of Alabama, is now the subject of an ethics complaint filed with the state bar association for allegedly lying to Congress about his contact with the Russian ambassador during the election last year.


Jeff Sessions swears an other to tell the truth, but he lied: Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA

The complaint was filed this week by the American Civil Liberties Union, which is asking the state bar to investigate a potential rules violation after the former senator failed to disclose his contacts with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak in his confirmation hearing with the Senate Judiciary Committee.

“False testimony made under oath is one of the most serious ethical offenses a lawyer can make and one any state bar should investigate vigorously,” ACLU national political director Faiz Shakir said. “Alabamians and Americans from all walks of life should be assured that the organizations responsible for regulating lawyers in their state take ethical violations seriously — no matter how powerful that lawyer may be.”

Sessions has been a member of the Alabama State Bar since 1973. The legal association states that engaging in behavior “involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation” counts as professional misconduct, the ACLU noted in its complaint.

“Mr. Sessions is the Attorney General of the United States and violated Rule 8.4 of the Alabama Rules of Professional Conduct,” according to the complained filed by Chris Anders, deputy director at the ACLU Washington Legislative Office, where he represents the ACLU before Congress and the executive branch.

“Mr. Sessions made false statement during sworn testimony on January 10 and in a subsequent written response to questions January 17,” Anders says, which violates the rules of professional for an attorney to ‘engage in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation’.”

The civil rights group urged the bar to “take any appropriate disciplinary actions” against the attorney general.

The action came on the same day that Boston-based attorney J. Whitfield Larrabee filed a similar ethics complaint against Sessions, arguing that he had engaged in “unethical and criminal conduct” during his confirmation hearing.

Sessions testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee last month that he had not communicated with the Russian government during President Donald Trump’s election campaign, but the Washington Post and other outlets have since revealed that he had contacted Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak at least twice.

The revelations have prompted widespread demands for Sessions to resign, which he has thus far ignored, although he did respond to the uproar by recusing himself from any potential investigation into Russia’s alleged meddling in the 2016 election.

“Few events are more corrosive to a democracy than having the Attorney General make false statements under oath about a matter the Justice Department is investigating,” Anders said. “Jeff Sessions told a falsehood to the Senate, and did nothing to correct his statement until he was exposed by the press more than a month later.

“No attorney, whether just starting out as a new lawyer or serving as the country’s top law enforcement officer, should lie under oath,” he added. “The Alabama bar must investigate this wrong fully and fairly.”

See the full complaint here (PDF).

© 2017, Glynn Wilson. All rights reserved.