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.
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
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, Sessions entertained 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 Trump’s campaign in February 2016.
I did not have sexual relations with that Russian ambassador!
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.”
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 Sessions in January?
Of course, whatever the answer to that question, more questions follow! Weren’t Senator Franken and his fellow 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
FEATURED IMAGE: The caricature at the top of this page is by Steve Brodner. It’s actually a rather kind portrait, given the artist’s words concerning Sessions as a man and a politician.
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?