(National Sentinel) Validation: A newly-released report from the House Intelligence Committee substantiates testimony by Attorney General Jeff Sessions regarding a hotly debated exchange he had during the 2016 campaign with minor Trump advisor George Papadopoulos.
As reported by The Daily Caller‘s Chuck Ross, Reuters noted in a March exclusive that three anonymous sources were disputing Sessions’ account of events, in which the AG said he strongly pushed back against a suggestion from Papadopoulos that Team Trump members meet with Russian government officials.
“Yes, I pushed back,” Sessions told the House Committee on the Judiciary during a Nov. 14 hearing.
Two weeks later, during a closed-door meeting with the House Intelligence Committee on Nov. 30, Sessions said, “I felt like, and I’m the chairman of this group — I should not do anything that indicated to Mr. Papadopoulos that he was authorized to go to Russia or anyplace else to represent the Trump campaign and do some sort of negotiations. So I pushed back pretty sharply on that.”
But according to the three sources cited by Reuters, Sessions was meek and did not push back hard at all.
One source told the newswire service Sessions responded to Papadopoulos — who has pledged guilty of lying to the FBI about contacts with Russian nationals while serving on the campaign — with something like, “Okay, interesting.”
Reuters’ other two sources recalled a similar response.
“It was almost like, ‘Well, thank you and let’s move on to the next person,’” one source told Reuters.
As Ross noted further:
The Reuters report was picked up by numerous other news outlets. It fit the narrative that Sessions has made inconsistent statements about encounters with Russian government officials.
Democrats have hammered Sessions for failing to disclose in his Jan. 10, 2017, Senate confirmation hearing that he met Russia’s ambassador, Sergey Kislyak, during the campaign season. Sessions later said that one of his meetings with Kislyak occurred in relation to his work as a senator. He’s claimed that two other encounters with Kislyak were inconsequential greetings that occurred on the sidelines of political events.
On Friday, however, the House Intelligence Committee released a report stating that two witnesses before the panel backed up Sessions’ version, stating that he did push back strongly against Papadopoulos’ offer, while two additional attendees of the meeting recall Sessions shooting Papadopoulos down.
The Republican report noted:
Sessions’ account of his response has been corroborated by another attendee, [redacted]. [Redacted] also attended and similarly recalled that when Papadopoulos raised the issue of obtaining contacts with the Russian government on behalf of the campaign, Senator Sessions interrupted and began “talking about the Logan Act,” which criminalizes unauthorized negotiations with foreign governments.
As noted, the names of the two sources who backed up Sessions were redacted in the 253-page report. But the footnotes reveal dates when the testimony was given.
Ross reported that a check fo a report composed by Democrats on the Intelligence Committee shows that the two meeting attendees are Walid Phares and Sam Clovis
Phares served as an advisor to the committee while Clovis was a national co-chairman of the Trump campaign.
Two others who were at the meeting have also supported Sessions. One is J.D. Gordon, chairman of the campaign’s national security advisory committee who has publicly stated that Sessions rebuffed the offer.
A fourth meeting attendee told The Daily Caller in August that Sessions refused Papadopoulos’ offer.
“When it got to George, he said something about meeting with Russians,” said the attendee, who was not named by TheDC. “It was kind of strange, frankly, because he’s basically a young kid and he’s raising this issue.
“It just came and went and there was really nothing there,” the attendee continued, saying he vaguely remembered Sessions’ response, which essentially was, “Nope, not going there.”