In a statement denouncing Attorney General Jeff Sessions for concealing his contact with the Russian government under oath, Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) said Thursday that she hadn’t had a meeting with the Russian ambassador herself in a decade. The problem is, it appears she has.
McCaskill made the comment in a statement calling for Sessions’ resignation after The Washington Post revealed that he’d met with Sergey Kislyak, Russia’s ambassador to the United States, twice during the presidential campaign. Sessions had told the Senate during his confirmation hearing that he had not had communications with the Russians at that time.
“It’s clear Attorney General Sessions misled the Senate — the question is, why? I’ve been on the Senate Armed Services Committee for 10 years, and in that time, have had no call from, or meeting with, the Russian ambassador. Ever,” McCaskill’s statement read.
Multiple lawmakers have questioned why Sessions would mislead the Senate during his confirmation hearing. But McCaskill’s statement ― that she had not met with the Russian ambassador in a decade ― appears to be false, based on her own tweets in 2013 and 2015:
McCaskill later acknowledged that she had indeed gone to a meeting about international adoptions that Kislyak also attended, but told reporters that multiple senators were there and she did not participate in a one-on-one meeting with him. She also re-emphasized that the ambassador had never called her or requested a meeting.
“It was about adoptions, I didn’t, you know ― he was definitely there because we were talking about international adoptions, so ― but it didn’t have anything to do with Armed Services. And it was obviously not about the Russian ambassador, it was about adoptions,” she told reporters.
U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded that Russia interfered in the U.S. election with the goal of helping Donald Trump. Several lawmakers have called for Sessions to step aside and appoint an independent investigator to probe Trump’s ties to Russia, and many Democrats have joined McCaskill in calling on Sessions to resign.
“Attorney General Sessions met one-on-one with the Russian ambassador in the midst of a Russian cyber campaign against the U.S., and then misled the Judiciary Committee under oath about that meeting,” said John LaBombard, a spokesman for McCaskill. “He then tried to excuse it by saying it was part of the normal course of his Armed Services Committee work.”
“Claire has never met one-on-one with the ambassador, and never received a call from him,” LaBombard continued. “She did attend a group meeting about adoptions with other Senators, and had a brief proactive call with the ambassador amid calls to several other parties to the Iran nuclear deal. Attorney General Sessions, on the other hand, misled the Senate under oath.”