A senator has slammed Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ denial that he met with Russian officials (when in fact he did) as a kind of “Jedi mind trick” — manipulating spectators with lies to overlook the very obvious.
“The denials remind me of Obi-Wan Kenobi in the first ‘Star Wars,’” Sen. Angus King (I-Maine) said on MSNBC Friday. “Remember where he says, ‘These aren’t the droids you’re looking for,’ and they go on by?”
In the “Star Wars” scene, Obi-Wan, Luke Skywalker and his droids are stopped by enemy troops who are searching for them. But Obi-Wan takes control of the the soldiers’ minds so they don’t see what they’re looking at. It’s a Jedi trick that works on the “weak-minded,” Obi-Wan later explains to Luke.
Fortunately, not everyone is falling for the trick, indicated King, who added that the slow drumbeat of revelations about President Donald Trump’s campaign aides meeting with Russian officials will ultimately be more damaging for the administration than simply facing it head on.
“It’s in the interest of the president and the people around him to get this all out. It’s the drip, drip that’s really going to be damaging,” said King, who lamented the current “fraud atmosphere.”
Sessions said under oath twice during his confirmation hearings that he didn’t meet with any Russian officials in 2016. After the Washington Post reported that he met twice in 2016 with Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak, Sessions then said neither meeting had anything to do with the Trump campaign but were related to his role on the Senate Armed Services Committee. But he now has recused himself from heading an investigation into ties between Russia and Trump campaign aides.
“I’m on the Armed Services Committee as well, and my phone didn’t ring during that period,” King said on MSNBC.
“I can’t judge what was in the Russian ambassador’s head at that time, but he’s probably not oblivious to the fact that Sen. Sessions was a close adviser to the guy who might become president of the United States.”
King said he has never seen anything like the apparent connection between a president’s circle and a hostile foreign power. He said U.S intelligence agencies’ discovery that Russia used cyberattacks to disrupt the presidential campaign “was as if there was a physical intrusion” in the nation and an “attack on our democracy.” Russians were “absolutely” trying to manipulate our political system and are “doing it right now in Germany and in France,” he said. “This is how they work.”
One of Sessions’ meetings occurred in Cleveland during the Republican National Convention, when Kislyak also met with Trump campaign national security adviser J.D. Gordon and former foreign policy adviser Carter Page.
The Wall Street Journal reports that Sessions used his own campaign re-election funds to pay for expenses related to the Cleveland event with Kislyak, not government funds as would typically be the case for official business like a meeting linked to his role on the Armed Services Committee.
The newspaper, citing campaign finance records and an unnamed individual who attended the event, also says that Sessions discussed the Trump campaign. Sessions by then had been serving as chairman of Trump’s National Security Advisory Committee for more than four months.