Good lord, it never ends.
Earlier today, we noted that Attorney General and racist lawn gnome, Jeff Sessions, has come under heightened scrutiny this week. His presence at a meeting attended by former Trump adviser turned-Mueller cooperating witness George Papadopoulos seems to indicate that we still have not gotten the full story about what Sessions knew and when.
Sessions has of course been questioned repeatedly this year about apparent inconsistencies in his account. The Attorney General is in the habit of obfuscating when asked direct questions and he also seems to suffer from bouts of selective amnesia with regard to anything having to do with Russia and the Trump campaign. Unfortunately for Sessions, Trump tweeted this picture in March of 2016:
So there’s Jeff and there’s Trump and there’s Papadopoulos. The thing about images posted to the President’s official, verified social media accounts is that it’s hard to refute them later should expediency require it.
Apparently, Sessions in fact threw cold water on a proposal by Papadopoulos that Trump meet with Putin. That’s a problem because back in June, at a Senate intelligence committee hearing, Sessions testified that he didn’t know about any conversations between “anyone connected to the Trump campaign” and Russians. In other words, he lied.
Well, in yet another unfortunate turn of events for Jeff, Carter Page has now testified that he told Sessions about a trip he was taking to Russia during the campaign. Here’s CNN:
During more than six hours of closed-door testimony, Page said that he informed Sessions about his coming July 2016 trip to Russia, which Page told CNN was unconnected to his campaign role. Page described the conversation to CNN after he finished talking to the House intelligence committee.
Page’s testimony was one of the more highly anticipated events in the congressional Russia investigations, given the scrutiny he’s faced because of his connections to Russia and his visible role pushing back about his Russia ties in nationally televised interviews.
Rep. Mike Conaway, the Texas Republican who is leading the House intelligence committees Russia probe, confirmed to CNN that Page told the committee he had informed Sessions about his trip, though Conaway downplayed its significance.
“I don’t make anything sinister out of it. He said Sessions did not react or comment one way or the other,” Conaway said in an interview. “If I were Sessions, I wouldn’t have recalled it either. It was just in passing. He was walking out of the room. A guy he had never met before, grabs him, ‘Hey, I’m out on the team. I changed my travel plans to go to Russia.'”
And while I suppose it’s plausible that Sessions might have honestly forgotten, it certainly seems like Jeff can’t remember much of anything. The list of conversations he had about Russia that he no longer recalls seems to be growing all the time. One explanation is that he really doesn’t remember them. Another, far more plausible explanation under the circumstances, is that he’s going to just lie until someone corners him on it.
It’s also worth noting that at the same June hearing mentioned above, when asked if Page met with Russian officials “at any point during the campaign,” Sessions said this:
I don’t know.
For what it’s worth (which isn’t much) here’s what Page told CNN about his conversation with Sessions:
Back in June 2016, I mentioned in passing that I happened to be planning to give a speech at a university in Moscow. Completely unrelated to my limited volunteer role with the campaign and as I’ve done dozens of times throughout my life. Understandably, it was as irrelevant then as it is now. If it weren’t for the dodgy dossier and all the chaos that those complete lies had created, my passing comment’s complete lack of relevance should go without saying.
You can draw your own conclusions there, but needless to say, there are a whole hell of a lot of coincidences piling up here and somehow, everyone involved wants to claim that they either don’t remember anything or else that if they do remember having done or said something, that what they did or said isn’t actually consequential.
At the same closed-door testimony on Thursday, Politico reports that Page “invoked his Fifth Amendment rights when asked by House Intelligence Committee members why he hadn’t turned over documents for their probe into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.”
So both the House and the Senate have subpoenaed documents and so far, Page hasn’t turned them over. Here, according to Politico, is his “excuse”:
I’m helping to the greatest extent I can.
Well, if I had to put money on it, I’d say Page is going to be “helping” to an even greater “extent” because he was part of the same team of advisers that Papadopoulos was on, which means that Mueller is undoubtedly on his ass too.
Earlier this week, Page told MSNBC that he “might have been on email threads with Papadopoulos where Russia may have come up from time to time.” But don’t worry, because he swears that “nothing major” was ever discussed.
I don’t think I need to go any further, although I certainly could. It looks like the saving grace here is that virtually no one involved was competent when it comes to how to participate in a conspiracy and get away with it – least of all Trump.
Amusingly, Page was not accompanied by a lawyer at his testimony on Thursday. A transcript will reportedly be released next week.