Attorney General Jeff Sessions acted weirdly pleased with himself after recusing himself from investigations into Russian ties with the Trump campaign. He exuded the same vibe when protesters were escorted out of his confirmation hearing, so maybe his reaction “barometer” is a bit off? He insisted that he did nothing inappropriate by holding two meetings with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak during the presidential campaign. However, a new Wall Street Journal report indicates that Sessions really may have something to worry about because he used campaign dollars to fund travel expenses for at least one Kislyak hang-out session.
Yep. In addition to allegedly lying under oath about the meetings and talking with the ambassador while he was both a surrogate and foreign advisor to Trump, Sessions reportedly used his Senate-reelection funds to travel to the GOP convention in Cleveland, Ohio last summer. While there, he met up with Kislyak and spoke out in support of Trump’s campaign during a Heritage Foundation event. This, of course, doesn’t add up to Sean Spicer’s Thursday statement that Sessions was “literally conducting himself as a United States senator” both times that he met with Kislyak. Sessions said he was acting on behalf of the Senate Armed Services Committee (not for Trump-related purposes), but the Wall Street Journal report tells a different story:
Campaign-finance-disclosure records show Mr. Sessions’ re-election campaign account was used for travel expenses in Cleveland at the same time the Republican National Convention was held in July, rather than using official funds that would pay for travel by him or other members of the Senate Armed Services Committee.
On July 16, two days before the convention began, his campaign account made two payments of $1,395 to the Sheraton Cleveland Airport. A week later, the account made two payments to the Westin Hotel in Cleveland totaling $223. All payments were described as for “lodging.”
No payments reimbursing Mr. Sessions appear in Mr. Trump’s campaign account, the records show.
This info landed with the WSJ courtesy of Sessions’ campaign-finance records. This, of course, presents another potential layer of problems for Sessions, who is still subject to the counterintelligence probe into Trump associates that’s being overseen by the FBI. In other words, Sessions’ cheerful recusal may not be the end of his Russia-related woes.
Following the Sessions mess that dominated the entirety of Thursday, Trump has labelled him as “an honest man.” In addition, the White House tried to get ahead of more Russia-related controversy by announcing that Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner met with Kislyak (along with Michael Flynn, who’s already resigned for lying about his conversations with the ambassador). Two other Trump advisors, J.D. Gordon and Carter Page, have since been revealed to have met with Kislyak at the GOP convention. One thing is certain — the Russian ambassador is a really popular guy.