A new lawsuit filed has been filed by People For the American Way Foundation and American Oversight against the Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation to force the agencies to disclose the instructions that the FBI gave to Attorney General Jeff Sessions when he was applying for a security clearance.
The PFAW has challenged the FBI to release documents or any evidence that the agency gave to current Attorney General Jeff Sessions about whether his contacts with Russia’s ambassador to the U.S. during the 2016 election should have been included on his security clearance application.
We already know that Sessions lied during his confirmation hearing by denying contacts and interactions he had with Russian government officials while he was a Senator. Those contact were also omitted from his application for security clearance.
Once CNN revealed that then-Senator Sessions had at least two meetings with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak in May, the attorney general claimed that the reason he left with the dignitary off his application because he was told to do so by the FBI.
It was later revealed that Jeff Sessions had met with Kislyak three times during the relevant period, as former FBI Director James Comey informed Senators. This, after he initially testified: “I did not have communications with the Russians” during his Senate confirmation hearing.
Following that revelation in July, Sessions released a heavily redacted copy of his application form. Leaked intelligence intercepts published later that month show that not only was Sessions in contact with the Russian Ambassador while he was a Senator, he was actually discussing matters relevant to the 2016 election. Washington Post reported, “A former official said that the intelligence indicates that Sessions and Kislyak had “substantive” discussions on matters including Trump’s positions on Russia-related issues and prospects for U.S.-Russia relations in a Trump administration.”
American Oversight released a statement which reads, in part:
“A previous FOIA request by American Oversight confirmed reports that Mr. Sessions failed to disclose contacts with Russian government officials on his Standard Form 86 security clearance document. The Department of Justice has claimed that Mr. Sessions “was instructed [by the FBI investigator handling the background check] not to list meetings with foreign dignitaries and their staff connected with his Senate activities.
On June 1, People For the American Way, through its Right Wing Watch project, filed a FOIA request with the FBI seeking information about instructions the FBI gave to Mr. Sessions “concerning what contacts with foreign individuals to list on or to omit from his SF-86 or other security clearance form.” Right Wing Watch’s request for expedited processing was initially denied, but was granted upon appeal on July 25th. FOIA requires agencies to produce documents within 20 days of granting expedited processing to a request; that time period has now passed.”
Sessions’s decision to recuse himself from the Russia investigation appeared to have been the only decision made in good faith during his tenure, but was that just an attempt at damage control? The FBI falls under jurisdiction of The Department of Justice so it is perfectly fair to question what possible reason Sessions might have been given to hide information about those particular contacts.