Outside of Paul Manafort and Rick Gates, no one in Donald Trump’s orbit was put in more immediate legal jeopardy by the special counsel’s revelations this week than Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who is now once, twice, three times a liar.
- Strike 1: He did have contacts with Russians.
- Strike 2: He was aware that Trump aide George Papadopoulos was trying to coordinate with the Russians.
- Strike 3: He did know that Trump aide Carter Page was communicating with Russians.
While Sessions’ repeated lies open him up to perjury charges, they also make him a prime target for Robert Mueller’s investigation. Even with what little we in the public know about his legal liabilities, Sessions is already practically begging to be interviewed about Donald Trump’s relationship with the Russians during the campaign as well as his actions as pr*sident. As Washington Post‘s Jennifer Rubin points
Sessions should be concerned about his own legal exposure. Sessions eventually will be questioned by Mueller about the events leading up to Comey’s firing. Mueller will ask Sessions about Trump’s rationale for firing Comey and about concern in the administration about a probe into Russia that would entail a deep dive into Trump’s finances. Armed with Sessions’s inconsistent testimony, Mueller will apply maximum pressure on Sessions. And Sessions, who has been publicly badgered and humiliated by Trump and abhors accusations that he has behaved improperly, will have plenty of incentive to assist the special counsel.
Sessions already appears to be on a PR campaign to help himself. In the last 48 hours, three separate outlets have reported on the 2016 national security meeting in which Papadopoulos informed Trump, Sessions and others seated around the table that he could set up a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
While Trump was open to that Putin meeting, Sessions “shut down” the idea, according to both CNN and NBC, and was “vehemently opposed” to it, reported the New York Times. Only the Times had an on-the-record source; CNN and NBC both reported remarkably similar accounts from anonymous sourcing—someone who appears to be sympathetic to Sessions’ perspective or, as NBC put it, a “person familiar with Sessions’ views.” The accounts all paint Sessions in a positive light even as they reveal inaccuracies in his sworn testimony both in January and June.
Once more, Trump isn’t doing anything to inspire future loyalty from Sessions, whom he has publicly shredded for months. Just before Trump left for Asia Friday morning, the AP writes:
Asked if he would fire Sessions if DOJ doesn’t focus its investigative powers on Democrats, Trump said, “I don’t know.”
Go ahead, Trump—alienate Sessions. He very well might find a sympathetic ear with Mueller, if he hasn’t already.