Jeff Sessions. Do you need more than that to know the rest? Probably not. By now the issue with the former Senator and current U.S. Attorney General is one of the biggest stories in the news, real and fake. During his Senate confirmation hearings Sessions very clearly labeled himself as a “surrogate” for the Trump 2016 Presidential campaign, and then said he did not have any contact with any Russians.
That's not my opinion. That's not a fake story. That's not a version being presented by one side or the other. It's a fact. Session's own words were direct and unambiguous. For an easy comparison, and one that's from the other side, it's remarkably similar to this classic: “I did not have sexual relations with that woman...” remember that? I remember. I bet you do too.
That line was the basis of years of jokes and congressional impeachment hearings. It is, without a doubt, what Bill Clinton is best known for. I think I was 12 (ish) when he said that and I remember it like it was yesterday. I can still see Darrell Hammond on SNL doing the goofy Clinton routine, giving the thumbs up, like a real life Bugs Bunny of sorts. What a waskally wabbit.
What Sessions has done, while not an “equal” level of impropriety, is still a remarkably similar issue for analysis.
I teach my students about cross examination and what's called “impeachment” of a witness. Basically, if you have a person's statement and they directly contradict that statement (or action) then you use that past statement or action against them in Court. The catch is that it has to be a true contradiction. For example, if a witness is asked: “Didn't you say the sky was blue?” and they answer that 'No, I said it was aqua marine' that isn't really a true and direct contradiction. But, if the witness answers 'No, I said it was black' then you have a contradiction.
Sessions said the sky was black, but, as it turns out, it really was blue.
That's the problem here. This isn't about politics. It's about basic ethics.
Attorneys have a duty of candor toward the tribunal. Another way to say that: Lawyers are ethically bound to tell the truth to the Court. Failing to do so is a breach of ethics and can result in penalties. In severe enough cases it could lead to a disbarment.
The then Sen. Sessions was, very literally, interviewing to be the #1 Attorney in the Country. A position that, regardless of the party in charge, must be above ethical question. In this regard, plenty of dyed in the wool Trump supporters will declare that what AG Lynch did - by meeting with Bill Clinton during the campaign - was just as bad, or even worse.
I'm not saying it wasn't. But, do we really want to make the standards for our highest public officials “The other guy did it once so they get to do it too” or shouldn't we, as the PEOPLE from which the government derives its power, demand more?
That's what this is about. It's not about Sessions history, who appointed him, or the [R] next to his name on television. It's about our duty, as the American people, to demand that those in power are honest and honorable. It isn't even about Sessions having contact with the Russians. It's about the willingness to say it never happened. I remember as a kid hearing “Are you sorry you did it, or are you sorry you got caught?” and that logic applies directly here.
Republicans would be wise to have an independent investigation done on the Russian contacts issue, and to call on AG Sessions to step down. It's politically expedient to do so at this point and, more importantly, it's the right thing to do for the American people.