Why is that so many members of Congress have such a difficult time saying the word “lie”? There is certainly a difference between intentionally lying and sincerely misidentifying, say, the exact time you had breakfast. But Attorney General Jeff Sessions is guilty of the former, and not the latter.
When special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe led to the arrest of George Papadopoulos in July, an indictment that was only just unsealed on Monday, Sessions’ ass suddenly went from partially on the line to actually quite exposed. While Sessions’ story on whether he knew about between Russian officials’ contact with the Trump campaign has changed since his confirmation hearing, Papadopolous’ indictment and subsequent guilty plea proved the most recent iteration of his story is...a lie.
Papadopolous, acting as an adviser to the campaign, offered to broker a meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and President Trump during a meeting in March of last year—a meeting that Sessions was present for, and one he didn’t disclose. While Sessions apparently vetoed the idea, his story is crumbling.
Senate Democrats have demanded Sessions explain his interaction with Papadopolous at that meeting, but they’ve stopped short of saying he lied. In a letter to Sessions, Senator Al Franken said that his failure to disclose the meeting was “another example in an alarming pattern in which you, the nation’s top law enforcement officer, apparently failed to tell the truth, under oath.”
Later, in an interview with CNN, Franken said, “[Sessions] seems to have problems telling the truth on this subject.” In other words, he lied. So why not say it?
“He now needs to come back before the committee, in person, under oath, to explain why he cannot seem to provide truthful, complete answers to these important and relevant questions,” said Senator Patrick J. Leahy, a Democrat who sits on the Judiciary Committee.
But just as there’s a difference between misremembering and lying, there’s also a difference between saying someone has difficulty telling the truth and saying they lied. Given Sessions’ ever-shifting story about his knowledge of a Trump campaign representative’s now apparent attempt to set up a meeting with the Kremlin, it seems as though he doesn’t simply have “problems telling the truth.” He lied.