CNN reports that the Justice Department has confirmed to them that Attorney General Jeff Sessions did not disclose meetings he had with Russian officials last year when he applied for his security clearance.
The form required him to list “any contact” he or his family had with a “foreign government” or its “representatives” over the past seven years, but Sessions did not note at least two meetings he had with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak. This comes after Sessions failed to disclose these same meetings during his Senate confirmation hearing, which prompted calls for him to recuse himself from the ongoing investigation into the Trump campaign’s alleged ties to Russia. Although he eventually did recuse himself, he later recommended firing former FBI Director James Comey, who was leading the probe, in a letter to the president.
According to Justice Department spokeswoman Sarah Isgur Flores, the attorney general initially disclosed a year’s worth of meetings on the security clearance form. However, he and his staff were reportedly told by an FBI employee that there was no need for him to list the dozens of meetings he held with foreign officials that occurred during his time as a senator.
“My interpretation is that a member of Congress would still have to reveal the appropriate foreign government contacts notwithstanding it was on official business,” Mark Zaid, a Washington attorney who specializes in national security law, disagreed with the Justice Department’s explanation.
News of the omission also comes after Jared Kushner initially submitted his security clearance form without listing such contacts and as former national security adviser Michael Flynn is currently under investigation for not properly disclosing payments linked to Russia for his foreign trips.