Duty of Candor: The Timing of the Sessions News
Since Jeff Sessions fired Andy McCabe Friday night and Trump started ratcheting up his attacks on Robert Mueller, few Republicans have vocally supported Mueller (Jeff Flake, Trey Gowdy, and John McCain are exceptions; all are retiring).
There was, however, this story, reporting that three sources say Jeff Sessions was not as dismissive of George Papadopoulos’ plan to reach out to Russians as JD Gordon has claimed.
Three people who attended the March campaign meeting told Reuters they gave their version of events to FBI agents or congressional investigators probing Russian interference in the 2016 election. Although the accounts they provided to Reuters differed in certain respects, all three, who declined to be identified, said Sessions had expressed no objections to Papadopoulos’ idea.
One person said Sessions was courteous to Papadopoulos and said something to the effect of “okay, interesting.”
The other two recalled a similar response.
“It was almost like, ‘Well, thank you and let’s move on to the next person,’” one said.
As the story notes, this conflicts with Jeff Sessions’ November 14 sworn testimony to the House Judiciary Committee.
So in the wake of the Attorney General firing McCabe for violating his duty of candor, three current or former Trump associates leaked that he lied to the House.
The thing is, there can’t be that many people who these sources could be. I’m not sure the annotations from Seth Abramson (above) are all correct, but here’s what it looks like.
Sessions and Gordon are on the record stating Sessions pushed back. Trump hasn’t testified yet.
One may well be Papadopoulos.
That leaves, starting with Abramson’s guesses (here’s a later list of Trump’s national security advisors, which should round out Abramson’s):
- Joseph Schmitz, who left his job as DOD IG amid some scandal
- Bert Mizusawa, who is running for VA Senate and presumably wants some national help, but he is himself a lawyer
- Jim Hoskins, who’s career military (including a lot of time working in intelligence)
- Walid Phares, appears to still be pitching Trump’s foreign policy adventurism
- Gary Harrell, who is career special operations
- Charles Kubic, who even contemporaneously was raising legal concerns about such outreach (and who would be a likely candidate to have been interviewed by Mueller since he showed up in email chains raising such concerns)
- James Carafano may be the balding man in the foreground (though he’s not in Trump’s list of advisors) — he’s still running interference for Trump’s crazy foreign policy
- Sam Clovis, who is not identifiable in the picture, raised concerns about legal issues and NATO concerns, but elsewhere was clearly involved in the effort to reach out to Russia, even per Carter Page; he’s in the news because of the potential conflict Joe Di Genova’s reported representation of Trump poses
- Keith Kellogg is another possible candidate; he remains part of Trump’s foreign policy team and has been interviewed
- James Woolsey is another candidate — we know he has spoken with Mueller and has been critical of the tension between the White House, Congress, and FBI of late
- Stephen Miller was at the meeting and interviewed with Mueller last year; I would think he would be a Sessions loyalist, though
I raise all this because, while Republicans in Congress are largely dodging the issue of protecting Mueller from Trump, some people closer to the investigation are calling Sessions on his hypocrisy. That might be far more dangerous to the Trump administration in the near term.