Department of Justice Covers Up Jeff Sessions Contact With Russians
The new organization American Oversight is dedicated to the attempt to conduct the kind of rigorous checks on the Trump Administration that the Republican Congress is failing to pursue. American Oversight doesn’t have the powers of Congress, of course, but is using lawsuits to seek information about what Donald Trump and his assistants are really doing behind closed doors.
In April, American Oversight filed a lawsuit seeking the release of the SF-86 background investigation form Jeff Sessions completed when he was seeking the job of Attorney General of the United States. All cabinet appointees are required to fill out the SF-86 form, which includes full disclosure of any meetings with representatives of foreign governments. As a result of that lawsuit, it was revealed in May that Jeff Sessions withheld information on his SF-86 form about at least two meetings with officials with the Russian government.
Jeff Sessions didn’t tell the U.S. Senate about these meetings with Russians while testifying under oath during his confirmation hearings. Under penalty of perjury, Jeff Sessions lied, and said he had not met with any Russians. After he was made Attorney General, Sessions admitted that he had the meetings – referring to at least two meetings, not saying exactly how many meetings there were.
These meetings between Jeff Sessions and Russians government officials took place while Sessions was working as part of the Trump for President campaign. It is not known how these meetings are related to the meetings Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, and Paul Manafort held with Kremlin representative Natalia Veselnitskaya, with Russian bank officials, and with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak.
In response to the American Oversight lawsuit, Judge Randolph Moss ordered the Department of Justice to release the Sessions SF-86 form, and any related notes detailing the meetings between Russian officials and Jeff Sessions, to his court by July 12. “In light of the parties’ representations at today’s status conference, the Court hereby ORDERS as follows: With respect to the “Sessions” FOIA request, Dkt. -2, Defendants shall produce any responsive documents that are not subject to a FOIA exception or exemption on or before July 12, 2017,” the order stated.
Yesterday was July 12. Despite the passage of the deadline, the Department of Justice has not complied with the order from Judge Randolph. Jeff Sessions has ordered the notes to be withheld, keeping secret all information about the meetings Sessions had with Russian officials on behalf of the Trump campaign.
This morning at 10:00 AM Eastern Time, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia is meeting to consider what actions will be taken in response to the refusal by the Department of Justice to comply with the order of Judge Moss. Stay tuned.