By Glynn Wilson –
An attorney in Massachusetts has filed a legal complaint with the U.S. Department of Justice against President Donald J. Trump’s pick as Attorney General, Jeff Sessions of Alabama, formally accusing him of lying to Congress and covering it up.
The complaint (see link below), filed on behalf of 23 residents of California, Maine, Massachusetts, Oregon and Vermont, demands that Sessions resign immediately or be fired by the president. It asks for the appointment of a special prosecutor to investigate Sessions on criminal charges of perjury.
It alleges what we have already reported, that Sessions gave false and misleading testimony during his confirmation hearing in January when he told the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee that he “did not have communications with the Russians” during the campaign in which he clearly acted as a surrogate for the Trump campaign. It further accuses Sessions of covering up the alleged perjury by directing a spokeswoman to make a public statement saying he did not mislead the committee.
“There is no doubt that Attorney General Sessions falsely denied communicating with Russian officials in testimony before the United States Senate,” attorney J. Whitfield Larrabee said in a statement accompanying the complaint, obtained by the New American Journal.
“After this false testimony was revealed, Sessions made other false statements to the American people and to the United States’ Senate,” Larrabee said. “Sessions attempted to conceal and to cover up his misconduct. He illegally interfered with the proper administration of the Department of Justice. The substantial evidence of criminal conduct … makes it impossible for him to continue leading the Department.”
Larrabee told The Washington Post, which first broke the story, that he and his clients “feel there is probable cause to charge him with a crime,” he said. “We want indictments in the case. We want Attorney General Sessions to be treated just the same as anyone else. We don’t think that just because he’s the attorney general, that there should be a higher standard to bring charges against him.”
The complaint was sent to three Justice Department divisions that investigate alleged crimes and misconduct by agency employees and public officials on Monday.
“Attorney General Sessions is putting his own personal interest above the interest of the people of the United States by failing to resign,” Larrabee said further. “Because there are grounds not only to investigate, but also to charge Sessions with several crimes, the integrity of the Department of Justice will be destroyed so long as Sessions remains in office. Prosecutors at the Department of Justice cannot properly investigate this matter while Sessions remains in office because of a natural reluctance to aggressively probe and prosecute the leader of their own Department. It is an inherent conflict of interest.”
Under the regulations of the Department of Justice, according to Larrabee, the Deputy Attorney General must immediately appoint a Special Counsel to investigate evidence of criminal conduct by Sessions.
“Because the Attorney General has failed to resign, the President is obligated to put the interests of the people of the United States above his own partisan loyalty to Sessions,” Larrabee said. “If he does what is best for the people of the United States, President Trump will fire the Attorney General.”
No one in the Justice Department is commenting on the case so far, either from the Office of the Inspector General, the Office of Professional Responsibility or the Public Integrity Section of the Criminal Division.
The Post first revealed that Sessions met with Russia’s ambassador to the United States twice in 2016 while the campaign for president was in progress, a report that seemed to intensify calls for a congressional investigation into Russia’s involvement in the presidential election and also prompted ethics complaints calling for disciplinary actions against Sessions, who has been an attorney for more than four decades.
When asked during his confirmation hearing January 10 if Sessions was aware of any communications with anyone in the Russian government by anyone in the Trump campaign, including himself, by Minnesota Senator Al Franken, Sessions said: “I’m not aware of any of those activities. I have been called a surrogate at a time or two in that campaign and I did not have communications with the Russians.”
After The Post’s story came out on March 1, Sessions backtracked and acknowledged that he briefly spoke with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland in July and again at his Senate office in September. But he denied discussing President Trump’s campaign. The report and followup reporting by other news outlets, including the New American Journal with a base in Sessions’ home town of Mobile, Alabama, resulted in Sessions recusing himself from any investigation of Russian involvement in the election, even though on the same day, President Trump said he did not think Sessions should recuse himself.
By Sunday, however, Trump issued the diversionary Tweet accusing former President Barack Obama of ordering surveillance of Trump Tower in New York, and the news seemed to die down on calls for Sessions to resign or be fired and face criminal charges for lying to Congress.
The former Republican senator from Alabama, who became Trump’s nominee for attorney general in November, also appears to have lied in a written statement in response to further questions by Vermont Senator Patrick J. Leahy: “Several of the president-elect’s nominees or senior advisers have Russian ties. Have you been in contact with anyone connected to any part of the Russian government about the 2016 election, either before or after Election Day?”
Sessions’ response: “No.”
The legal complaint further accuses Sessions of making more false statements to cover up the perjured testimony, citing a March 6 letter he wrote to the Senate Judiciary Committee in which he defended his earlier testimony, as well as a statement posted on social media saying Sessions never discussed the presidential campaign with any Russian officials.
Sessions claims he “correctly” and “honestly” answered questions about a “continuing exchange of information” between Trump surrogates and intermediaries of the Russian government.
“I did not mention communications I had had with the Russian ambassador over the years because the question did not ask about them,” he wrote.
But that statement does not comport with the facts. It is unclear how the Justice Department will handle such a criminal complaint against the top law enforcement official in the land. The attorney general is the boss at the Department of Justice. It appears to be totally unprecedented for the department to be asked to investigate the head of the department. It would certainly be history making if the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) were to include the boss, Sessions himself, in the ongoing investigation of Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.
We are working on a separate but related story talking to legal sources in Mobile, Sessions’ home town, who are claiming the same things alleged in the legal complaint filed from Massachusetts. So far we have talked to attorneys off the record, but we are hoping to hear back soon from lawyers who know Sessions and have practiced with him for years who say this ongoing story fits a pattern of Sessions’ behavior and character going back many years.
It certainly fits a pattern of behavior outlined in a recent story published by The UK Guardian showing that Sessions long abused his legal positions in a partisan way. It is a bit of a mystery why this story was not picked up and repeated by Reuters, the Associated Press, the New York Times or the Washington Post. If the Russian hacking story deserves to grow legs and become pervasive in the blogosphere, certainly this story deserves more attention too.
Read the full complaint here.
© 2017, Glynn Wilson. All rights reserved.