Some Americans infected by partisanship are saying that Session’s testimony before the Senate in his AG hearing rises to the level of perjury. It doesn’t. It’s not close. Moreover, a rational, honest, deliberate individual can’t even make out a case that Sessions lied or that his statements were misleading. Ironically, many partisan Democrats and their elected leaders who are calling for the DOJ to charge Sessions with perjury seem to have forgotten about Eric Holder. We are now clearly putting party above country.
Mr. Holder had nothing but contempt for the law and Congress. In return, he found himself held in contempt. His record of “transparency” was troubling, and only Obama’s control of the executive prevented a charge of perjury against him. In fact, a perjury case against Holder, which the DOJ refused to bring, would be much stronger than any case against Sessions. I will walk you through both sets of facts.
The never shrinking violet, Anne Coulter reminded me of the many Holder problems when she tweeted out this incendiary tweet today. This post has neither the time nor the space for Holder’s gun running tomfoolery. However, we will look at his relevant conduct under oath.
A good day to remind everyone that AG Eric Holder ran guns to Mexico, lied to Congress about it, was found in contempt & never prosecuted.
— Ann Coulter (@AnnCoulter) March 2, 2017
Attorney General Holder, like his boss, didn’t like people or media he couldn’t control. When a leak popped up, Holder went after the leaker and the Press. He signed off on a search warrant for the e-mail account of a journalist in a leak investigation. Imagine, if you would, the reaction of the media if Mr. Trump’s AG was seeking search warrants for the e-mails of journalists. Those cupcakes are screaming now because not everyone was invited to a gaggle, like it’s a sixth grade game of spin the bottle.
On the serious issue of using his federal office to prosecute journalists, Holder appeared before the House Judiciary Committee where he testified:
In regard to potential prosecution of the press for the disclosure of material — this is not something I’ve ever been involved in, heard of, or would think would be wise policy.
That sworn testimony was in response to the inquiry of whether or not the Department of Justice could prosecute reporters under the Espionage Act of 1917. Mr. Holder wanted to make clear, with words like “ever” that it was nothing he’d been involved in, heard of, or thought to be a good idea. Yet, as he spoke those words, he had already been involved in and signed off on just such a potential prosecution.
Moreover, when pushed later on his “involvement” in the potential prosecution of journalist, his defenders pushed back. Some claimed the reporter was merely a witness, and not a target of the criminal investigation. The implication of that defense was to suggest that if the reporter was not a target of the criminal investigation, then Holder didn’t lie. That’s true, if those were the facts. They weren’t. Holder they said, only signed off on a warrant going after a potential leaker, and that the evidence was necessary to prosecute the leaker not the journalist.
That was a lie too.
The affidavit by FBI agent Reginald Reyes in support of the warrant made clear, repeatedly, that Fox News Reporter Rosen was a target of the investigation and that he faced possible criminal charges. Here is paragraph 45 of the affidavit:
Because of the Reporter’s own potential criminal liability in this matter, we believe that requesting the voluntary production of the materials from Reporter would be futile and would pose a substantial threat to the integrity of the investigation and of the evidence we seek to obtain by warrant.
Let me be clear; the Attorney General of the United States, then Eric Holder, lied, under oath, about his involvement in a criminal case targeting a US journalist. He neither resigned, nor was he prosecuted by his own Department of Justice.
When Mr. Holder gave that sworn statement, he left no room for interpretation in his answer. That was something [prosecution of journalist] that he hadn’t “ever been involved with, or heard of …”
That was a lie … and Holder knew it to be lie when he testified.
Not a single Democratic elected official called for his resignation or suggested he be prosecuted for perjury.
Let’s now turn to the case of Attorney General Sessions. He was under national scrutiny at his nomination hearing. All eyes were on him. After a partisan election, riots on inauguration day, a bruising nomination, and facing testimony against him by sitting senators, we are asked to believe that he perjured himself on a fact easily verifiable. Again, Let’s exam these indisputable facts.
Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., asked: “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 responded, in total: “No.”
No was the correct answer. Leahy asked if Sessions had been in contact with Russians “about the 2016 election.” Sessions answered no. Of course, it’s deeper than that. Implicit in that question was the modifier, “as a senior adviser.” Either way you look at it, Sessions didn’t meet with any Russian “about the 2016 election” in his official duties or as a Trump surrogate. No one even makes such an allegation.
The allegation Democrats and the media make is that he did meet with a Russian.
Yes. Sessions met the Russian Ambassador at the Senator’s office. He did this in his capacity as a Senator on the foreign relations committee. That’s something he has done with more than a dozen ambassadors. Again, there is no evidence that in that meeting Sessions discussed anything about the 2016 election, or acted as a Trump surrogate.
This, were are told, is the scandal.
If you don’t understand why that is not a lie, not misleading, and certainly not close to perjury, then you ought not involve yourself in these discussions. It possible you are a partisan fool or hack, in which case you may just be projecting talking points to low information voters. However, while partisanship might be the religion of most, arguments rise and fall on credibility. The exchange with Leahy provides no factual basis for wrongdoing or even misleading behavior.
The question that more honest partisans think might give rise to ambiguity … but not perjury … is the one involving Mr. Franken. Again, however, analysis and critical thinking resolves this issue. That is, unless you simply are interested in a political outcome, rather than a proper analytical and moral outcome.
One not so enlightened anonymous poster wrote on a blog tonight, “It’s real “f%$cking simple. He said he didn’t do something, and he did. He lied.”
Simple … yes … that’s the right word for the fellow.
Let’s examine facts, using reason in place of partisanship and thoughts in place of emotion. I have pulled the Franken v. Sessions “question” in its entirety so that a rationale, thoughtful, smart person can see the full exchange and judge the answer in that light. That, of course, would be the test and standard under the law.
Franken: “CNN just published a story alleging that the intelligence community provided documents to the president-elect last week that included information that quote, ‘Russian operatives claimed to have compromising personal and financial information about Mr. Trump.’ These documents also allegedly say quote, ‘There was a continuing exchange of information during the campaign between Trump’s surrogates and intermediaries for the Russian government.’
“Now, again, I’m telling you this as it’s coming out, so you know. But if it’s true, it’s obviously extremely serious and if there is any evidence that anyone affiliated with the Trump campaign communicated with the Russian government in the course of this campaign, what will you do?”
Sessions: “Senator Franken, 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 didn’t have — did not have communications with the Russians, and I’m unable to comment on it.”
This question … which was really a long, inarticulate, political speech by Senator Franken, clearly discussed Trump’s intermediaries and campaign surrogates. In his answer, Sessions does three things. First, he disclaims any knowledge of the alleged activities of surrogates and the campaign with respect to Russian contacts. Second, he identifies himself as sometimes being called a surrogate. Third, he says, in the context of being a surrogate, that he did not have communications with the Russians.
To the public record, every word of that is true. Every … single … word.
What the left is saying is that Sessions “lied” and “perjured” himself based on his “I didn’t have communications with the Russians.” If the question had been, “Senator, did you have any communications with the Russians, of any kind, for any purpose, including your official job as Senator” … and Sessions gave that answer above under oath, we would have perjury.
Those are not the facts. That is not the truth. That is a lie.
In fact, it’s not even spin or ambiguity, it is just a lie. Franken speaks about surrogates. Sessions addresses his role as a surrogate, and then in the context of the discussion about exchanging information from the Trump campaign to the Russians, he says no, he didn’t have any of those communications. In a perfect world, Franken asks a smarter question or two. He then follows-up. Moreover, maybe Sessions gives a perfect answer, like he would in a scripted TV show. He didn’t. But his answer, in context, is unimpeachable … unless one is a partisan, willfully ignorant of the facts and law. If you are such a person, you only read titles of pieces and not the analysis, so you likely didn’t make it this far. For those who do take on the analysis, they dismiss facts and thoughts that are not confirmation bias. We are a country of feelers, not thinkers.
There is no legal or criminal case. There is no legitimate political case or news story.
This is fake news. This is a false charge. You are either lying, being lied to, or partaking in a propaganda attack if you think Session lied under oath. Either way, unless someone comes out and proves that Sessions met as a surrogate and exchanged information with the Russians about the election, this is a non-story. This is a hit piece designed to fool and enrage the masses.
The real irony of all of this is plain; now elected Democratic officials want an AG to resign and be prosecuted criminally for perjury. Where were they when Mr. Holder committed documented perjury?
This story … which you should post, share, tweet and re-post … demonstrates the hypocrisy of the left, the lies of the media, and the reality that we live in a divided nation where even with respect to law and facts, it is always party before country.
Note: Some factual research for this piece comes in part from prior reporting on the Holder matter, including from this piece: http://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/2013/05/did-eric-holder-commit-perjury-it-looks-that-way.php by John Hinderaker.
Author: Richard Kelsey
Richard Kelsey is the Editor-in-Chief of Committed Conservative.
He is a trial Attorney and author of the new book on higher education, “Of Serfs and Lords: Why College Tuition is Creating a Debtor Class”
Rich is a former Assistant Law School Dean and Law Professor. At Mason Law Kelsey conceived of, planned, and brought to fruition Mason’s Center for the Protection of Intellectual Property, known as CPIP, drawing on his expertise as a former CEO of a technology company specializing in combating cyber-fraud.
Before returning to private practice, Rich taught legal writing and analysis and an advanced litigation seminar. In 2014 he was elected by the graduating class as the faculty speaker at their graduation.
He is a regular commentator on legal and political issues in print, radio and on TV. Rich has appeared on hundreds of stations as a legal expert or political commentator. He provided the legal analysis for all stages of the Bob McDonnell trial and appeal for numerous outlets including NPR and WMAL.
Rich also writes on occasion for the American Spectator and CNSNews.com.
In his free time, Rich is part of the baseball mafia of Northern Virginia, serving on numerous boards and as a little league and travel baseball coach.
His Twitter handle is @richkelsey.