Federal prosecutors have brought charges in cases far less serious than Sessions’s

Philip Lacovara and Lawrence Robbins write: Attorney General Jeff Sessions made a seemingly false statement under oath during his confirmation hearing. Admittedly, not every potential perjury case gets prosecuted, and Sessions may well have defenses to such a charge. But as lawyers at the Justice Department and attorneys in private practice who have represented individuals accused in such cases, we can state with assurance: Federal prosecutors have brought charges in cases involving far more trivial misstatements and situations far less consequential than whether a nominee to be the nation’s chief law enforcement officer misled fellow senators during his confirmation hearings.

Sessions’s problematic statement involves his response to a question by Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) about what he would do as attorney general “if there is any evidence that anyone affiliated with the Trump campaign communicated with the Russian government in the course of this campaign.” Sessions said he was unaware of any such activities, then volunteered, “I did not have communications with the Russians, and I’m unable to comment on it.” In fact, then-Sen. Sessions (R-Ala.), a top Trump campaign adviser, met at least twice during the presidential campaign with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, The Post revealed.

As any number of witnesses have learned the hard way, it is a federal felony to lie to Congress. Under Title 18 of the U.S. Code, Sections 1001 and 1621, perjury before Congress is punishable by up to five years imprisonment. To prove that offense, a prosecutor would have to establish that Sessions’s answer was false, that he knew it was false when made and that the subject matter of the answer was “material” to the congressional inquiry in which he was testifying.

Those elements all appear to be present. [Continue reading…]

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