Al Franken Accuses Jeff Sessions Of ‘Moving The Goal Posts’ In A Heated Exchange Over Russia

When Jeff Sessions last spoke with Al Franken in public, the attorney general blamed the Democratic senator from Minnesota for his committing perjury at his Senate confirmation hearing. It seems the four months since haven’t been enough to heal whatever wounds were suffered then because, during Sessions’ testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday, he quickly began verbally sparring with Franken. “Since you have qualified your denial to say you did not ‘discuss issues of the campaign with the Russians,'” the senator asked, “what in your view constitutes issues of the campaign?”

Sessions said he had “conducted no improper discussions with Russians at any time, regarding a campaign or any other item facing this country.” Franken interrupted briefly to point out that the attorney general hadn’t really answered his question, however, but the latter refused to budge. “That’s been the suggestion that you’ve raised, and others, that somehow we had conversations that were improper. No, no, no. You had a long time Sen. Franken. I’d like to respond.” Addressing Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Franken noted Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) “went two minutes over” and, since they were going to cut him off, he wanted to make sure he had plenty of time to ask Sessions “some questions.”

“No, Mr. Chairman, I don’t have to sit in here and listen to his charges without having a chance to respond. Give me a break,” Sessions exclaimed. In response, Franken noted he was “the one who testified,” but told him to “take whatever time you want” after Grassley briefly settled their dispute. “It was not a simple question,” an irate Sessions said of Franken’s question from their first heated encounter in March. “The lead-in to your question was very, very troubling, and I answered it to you in a way that I felt was responsive to what you raised in your question. Let me read it to you.”

Sessions then reread Franken’s original question and his response to it from the March hearing, especially in regards to a then-fresh CNN story the senator cited. “I don’t think [my previous response] can fairly be interpreted as saying I never had conversations with any Russians. It was referring directly to the suggestion that there was a continuing exchange of information between Trump surrogates and intermediaries for the Russian government, which did not happen. At least not to my knowledge, and not with me. That’s why I responded the way I did.”

“Not being able to recall what you discussed with him is very different than saying, ‘I have not had communications with the Russians,'” said Franken. “The ambassador from Russia is Russian. And how your responses morphed from, ‘I did not have communications with the Russians’ to ‘I did not discuss substantive, I did not discuss the political campaign’ and then finally going to, ‘I did not discuss interference in the election.’ That, to me, is moving the goal posts every time… By the end, we’re going to a 75-yard field goal.”

(Via CNN)