shouldn't we be calling the sessions-kislyak affair "sessionsgate" by now?

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by — Posted in Neal's Rants (Mostly Political)

WE ARE NOW deep into an af­fair that should have been ter­med ei­ther Ses­sion­s­gate or Am­bas­sador­gate by our main­stream me­dia. Ever clever with such trite coinages when a De­moc­rat is in­volved, At­tor­ney Gen­eral Ses­sions and Pres­i­dent Trump have some­how avoided hav­ing their trans­gres­sion ren­dered in a man­ner that sug­gest the felonies of the Nixon ad­min­is­tra­tion of 1972–1973.

I did not have sex­ual re­la­tions with that Rus­sian am­bas­sador!

But let's take a mo­ment and take a look at an­other mo­ment from Jan­u­ary 10, 2017: at a Sen­ate Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee con­fir­ma­tion hear­ing, Sen­a­tor Al Franken asked Sen­a­tor Jeff Ses­sions what he would do if he learned of any ev­i­dence that any­one af­fil­i­ated with the Trump cam­paign com­mu­ni­cated with the Rus­sian gov­ern­ment in the course of the 2016 cam­paign. Mr Ses­sions re­sponded:

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.”

This, of course, was a lie: Ses­sions had two pri­vate meet­ings with the Rus­sian Am­bas­sador to the United States Sergey Kislyak—one in July, and one in Sep­tem­ber. 1

Shouldn't the me­dia be call­ing the Sessions-Kisylak af­fair “Ses­sion­s­gate” by now? Click To Tweet

Sessionsgate: cartoon of Jeff Sessions by Glenn McCoy.

As usual, Rep*blicans ap­pear to think that any breach of ethics or law by a fel­low Rep*blican is not re­ally a breach of ethics or law, but merely the DLM (damn li­brull me­dia) mak­ing much ado about noth­ing. For­tu­nately, this means we won't have to en­dure eight re­dun­dant and point­less Con­gres­sional in­ves­ti­ga­tions into Ses­sion­s­gate. (Car­toon by Glenn Mc­Coy of the Belleville News-Democrat.)

Where have all the witnesses gone, long time passing

So, I have a ques­tion that doesn't seem to be a promi­nent part of the me­dia and pub­lic con­ver­sa­tion about this whole af­fair. But first, a few things we know to be so:

• Jef­fer­son Beau­re­gard "Jeff" Ses­sions III was the United States Sen­a­tor from the state of Al­abama for ten years (1997−2017).

• In Sep­tem­ber 2016, dur­ing the height of the pres­i­den­tial cam­paign, Mr Ses­sions en­ter­tained Mr Kislyak in the senator’s of­fice in Wash­ing­ton, DC, for a "pri­vate con­ver­sa­tion."

• At the time of this meet­ing, Ses­sions was a se­nior mem­ber of the in­flu­en­tial Armed Ser­vices Com­mit­tee in the Sen­ate.

• At the time of this meet­ing, Ses­sions had a promi­nent role sup­port­ing Don­ald Trump af­ter for­mally join­ing Mr Trump's cam­paign in Feb­ru­ary 2016.

At the time of his con­fir­ma­tion hear­ing, Mr Ses­sions was a mem­ber of the Sen­ate, the Armed Ser­vices Com­mit­tee, and Don­ald Trump's cam­paign team.

There's prob­a­bly more, but that should suf­fice for back­ground on my ques­tion. There is sim­ply no set of cir­cum­stances un­der which i will even en­ter­tain the pos­si­bil­ity that a US Sen­a­tor and the Am­bas­sador of any other na­tion met any­where let alone in and the FBI and the CIA did not know it was hap­pen­ing.

And, as it did hap­pen in the po­lit­i­cal hotspot of the world, where there are prob­a­bly more jour­nal­ists, re­porters, and in­ves­ti­ga­tors per square mile than any­where else on the planet, I have to as­sume that it was known by more than a few promi­nent mem­bers of "the me­dia."

Sessionsgate: cartoon of Donald Trump by Kevin Siers.

Not co­in­ci­den­tally, since Pres­i­dent Trump's in­au­gu­ra­tion, FBI Di­rec­tor Comey's ap­par­ent abuse of his role in mak­ing a pub­lic an­nounce­ment of what proved yet an­other non-event (a ver­sion if an al­ter­na­tive fact, per­haps?) in a day in the life of Hillary Clin­ton to af­fect the out­come of the elec­tion has been swept un­der the rug. (Car­toon by Kevin Siers for The Char­lotte Ob­server.)

Now for my question(s) on Sessionsgate

So, here's my ques­tion: How did the mem­bers of the Sen­ate Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee NOT know about the Sessions-Kislyak re­la­tion­ship prior to in­ter­view­ing Mr Ses­sions in Jan­u­ary?

Of course, what­ever the an­swer to that ques­tion, more ques­tions fol­low! Weren't Sen­a­tor Franken and his fel­lows com­mit­tee mem­bers briefed by the FBI or even tipped off by an alert jour­nal­ist to these not-so-clandestine meet­ing?

Was there no vet­ting of the can­di­date prior to the in­ter­view?

As the old man says at the fi­nal scene around the Cas­torini family's kitchen ta­ble in Moon­struck, "I'm con­fused . . ." 2


Sessionsgate: photo of Jeff Sessions.

FEA­TURED IM­AGE: I ma­nip­u­lated this photo for use as the header im­age at the top of this page to make it look like Mr Ses­sions was pho­tographed us­ing in­frared ther­mog­ra­phy (IRT), or ther­mal imag­ing, and is a bit of a hot spot. Of course I ac­cen­tu­ated the one color as an al­lu­sion to the "red scare" that pre­oc­cu­pied con­ser­v­a­tives for decades but now seems for­got­ten.


1   If this and other re­cent shenani­gans had oc­curred un­der a Clin­ton or Obama, not only we would be call­ing it Am­bas­sador­gate or Ses­sion­s­gate, we would also be dis­cussing Al­ter­na­tive­fact­gate for a con­cur­rent White House mess.

2   I al­ways hear the old man say, "I'm a-confused," which sounds more East Coast Ital­ianese.

3   Fi­nally, I will close with a nos­tal­gic mo­ment: re­mem­ber the good ol' days when all con­ser­v­a­tives thought that all Rus­sians were evil com­mie bas­tards try­ing to pol­lute our pre­cious bod­ily flu­ids and that every­one was bet­ter off dead than red?

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