On Thursday, Attorney General Jeff Sessions held a press conference to address concerns surrounding a report that he may have lied to Congress about his contact with Russian officials during the 2016 election. During his confirmation hearings, Sessions had said, in response to a question from Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.), that he never had contacts with the Russians. But, according to the Washington Post, Sessions had two such contacts with Russia's ambassador to Washington.
Within minutes of taking the podium on Thursday, he lied about how he arrived at this awkward position.
"I never had meetings with Russian operatives or Russian intermediaries about the Trump campaign," Sessions said at the news conference. "And the idea that I was part of a 'continuing exchange of information during the campaign between Trump surrogates and intermediaries for the Russian government' is totally false. That's the question that Sen. Franken asked me during the committee hearing."
That was not, however, the question that Franken asked during the confirmation hearing. During that hearing, Franken did not even ask about Sessions' contact with Russian officials, but rather posed a more broad question about the relationship between the Russian officials and the Trump campaign.
In response, Sessions volunteered that he had no contact with any Russians — full stop. Here's a transcript:
AL 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?
JEFF SESSIONS: Sen. 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.
March 2, 2017, 5:14 p.m.: This story has been updated.