During a closed hearing on Thursday afternoon, former FBI Director James Comey testified that it was possible the Russian ambassador to the United States meet with Attorney General Jeff Sessions a third time. While the testimony has not yet been made public, sources familiar with it have released details of certain portions of what was said.
The possibility that a third meeting took place is based on Russian communications that were intercepted by U.S. intelligence forces, and those communications apparently mentioned the meeting between Sergey Kislyak, the Russian ambassador, and AG Jeff Sessions. While those intercepts apparently discuss a third meeting, some have said that it is possible the third meeting could have been an exaggeration of an encounter between the two men that many wouldn’t consider a meeting. It’s important to note that Jeff Sessions was not yet the Attorney General when these meetings took place since they all occurred before the American presidential election, and Sessions did not take the AG position until it was offered to him by Trump.
The possibility of a third meeting between Sessions and Kislyak was already being investigated by congressional examiners, so the testimony from Comey is quite convincing. The meeting in question allegedly occurred in Washington, DC, at a local hotel called the Mayflower Hotel. It supposedly happened on April 27 of last year during a campaign event for Trump at the hotel where the candidate gave a speech on his foreign policy position.
The Justice Department claims that no such meeting took place at the Mayflower Hotel, and a spokeswoman for the department reiterated the idea that Sessions had no improper contact or conversations with the Russian ambassador at any time before or after Trump was elected. After Comey’s testimony on Thursday, the Justice Department repeated the claim. Comey testified that he didn’t want to release the information through his earlier public hearing since it could damage the FBI’s investigation.
It is no secret that Trump and Sessions have been disagreeing publicly lately, and with the testimony from Comey now on the record, many have wondered if Sessions will stay on as Attorney General. Sessions recused himself from the Russia investigation several weeks ago, which apparently upset Trump, causing a number of arguments and heated conversations between the pair. The fact that Trump would get angry at Sessions for properly following the law and recusing himself from an investigation in which he could potentially be involved shows that Trump wanted the support of Sessions to help him beat back these accusations.
According to an unnamed source in the Trump administration, Sessions recently told Trump that he would resign his position if the president decided he was no longer welcome in the administration. When asked, a spokesperson for the Justice Department claimed that Sessions does not plan to step down, which is the same rhetoric the department has taken in the weeks since Sessions chose to recuse himself.
The Department of Justice released a statement on Thursday evening to respond to certain portions of the testimony from Comey’s hearing. According to the statement, the only reason Sessions recused himself from the Russia investigation is that he was connected to it indirectly through the Trump campaign. While that is a fully legitimate reason for the recusal, many feel that there’s more to the story.
On Thursday, after much of the testimony from Comey was completed, the White House released a statement that confirmed Jeff Sessions is still the Attorney General and that Trump still believes Sessions can perform the job well. That statement came after multiple declinations from the White House to make such an affirmation early in the week.