Attorney General Sessions SF-86 scandal, a Nothing Burger

In their May 25th article First on CNN: AG Sessions did not disclose Russia meetings in security clearance form, DOJ says they report:

Attorney General Jeff Sessions did not disclose meetings he had last year with Russian officials when he applied for his security clearance, the Justice Department told CNN Wednesday.

Sessions, who met with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak at least two times last year, didn’t note those interactions on the form, which requires him to list “any contact” he or his family had with a “foreign government” or its “representatives” over the past seven years, officials said.

They go on to report, emphasis mine:

Sessions initially listed a year’s worth of meetings with foreign officials on the security clearance form, according to Justice Department spokeswoman Sarah Isgur Flores. But she says he and his staff were then told by an FBI employee who assisted in filling out the form, known as the SF-86, that he didn’t need to list dozens of meetings with foreign ambassadors that happened in his capacity as a senator.

In an update CNN’s reporter Evan Perez and Manu Raju added, emphasis mine:

“As a United States Senator, the Attorney General met hundreds — if not thousands — of foreign dignitaries and their staff,” spokesman Ian Prior said. “In filling out the SF-86 form, the Attorney General’s staff consulted with those familiar with the process, as well as the FBI investigator handling the background check, and was instructed not to list meetings with foreign dignitaries and their staff connected with his Senate activities.”

They went on to impeach this advice with their own expert Mark Zaid, emphasis mine:

My interpretation is that a member of Congress would still have to reveal the appropriate foreign government contacts notwithstanding it was on official business,”

My question to CNN is why didn’t you go to the National Background Investigations Bureau, the agency responsible for doing background investigation since it creation by President Obama in January of 2016.  I suspect, but obviously don’t know, that NBIB would have been “those familiar with the process” in the DOJ statement.

Or did you look at an SF-86 Form,

SF86-19

SF86-20B1

SF86-20B2

SF86B5

SF86B6

In my humble opinion, to quote Hillary “a nothing burger”

My inquiry to NBIB:

To  fisinquiries@opm.gov

In an article re: Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ SF-86 CNN reports that he did not disclose meeting with the Russian Ambassador, in his capacity as a Senator.

The story references a DOJ  statement indicating that:

“”As a United States Senator, the Attorney General met hundreds — if not thousands — of foreign dignitaries and their staff,” spokesman Ian Prior said. “In filling out the SF-86 form, the Attorney General’s staff consulted with those familiar with the process, as well as the FBI investigator handling the background check, and was instructed not to list meetings with foreign dignitaries and their staff connected with his Senate activities.”

What guidance does NBIB provide Congressional applicants regarding meetings with foreign officials in their official capacity?

June 9th Update

In a new story CNN again reports speculation (may, if, maybe, could, possibility …)  as fact, the article Blumenthal: If Sessions had 3rd, undisclosed Russian meeting, it ‘could be perjury’

CNN facts:

  • FBI Director James Comey told senators in a closed hearing that Sessions may have had a third interaction with Russia’s ambassador to the US, according to people familiar with the briefing.
  • Comey explained that the possibility there could have been another encounter was not something he wanted to discuss in the earlier public hearing, according to a source familiar with the briefing.
  • Comey told senators in the closed hearing that Sessions may have had a third interaction with Sergey Kislyak. That information is based in part on Russian-to-Russian intercepts, and Kislyak might have exaggerated the encounter, sources said.Note:  CNN is potentially disclosing “methods & sources” with this, if the subject Kislyak communication was by a secure channel, they now know that US has access to that channel and has broken the encryption.  If it wasn’t a secure channel then the probability of disinformation is very high.This is similar to the Kushner/Kislyak intercept reported by Washington Post.

November 14th Update

Rep.  Ted Lieu (D-CA) in house hearing effectively, if not explicitly, accused AG Sessions with lying [video].

 

 

 

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