Democrats have castigated Attorney General Jeff Sessions for failing to mention two meetings with the Russian ambassador while he was a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee.
Democratic leaders have alternately called for Sessions’s resignation or, failing that, recusal from a potential investigation into Russian influence on the Trump administration.
Missouri Democrat Claire McCaskill, also a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, took to Twitter Thursday to suggest that the Sessions meetings were improper:
I've been on the Armed Services Com for 10 years.No call or meeting w/Russian ambassador. Ever. Ambassadors call members of Foreign Rel Com.
— Claire McCaskill (@clairecmc) March 2, 2017
The New York Times reported that “there is nothing unusual about meetings between presidential campaigns and foreign diplomats” but used McCaskill’s tweet to push the idea that there was something wrong with holding the meeting.
But it appears McCaskill’s tweet wasn’t accurate.
The New York Times didn’t verify McCaskill’s story either, it seems, because, if any of the three reporters writing it had done so, this 2013 story in The Atlantic would have popped up showing McCaskill in the intimate meeting with the same guy Sessions met with:
McCaskill is the one in the glasses across the table from Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak.
They could have checked her Twitter feed:
Off to meeting w/Russian Ambassador. Upset about the arbitrary/cruel decision to end all US adoptions,even those in process.
— Claire McCaskill (@clairecmc) January 30, 2013
As Red State notes, the Times changed its story when McCaskill’s meeting was outed.
The New York Times ‘disappeared’ McCaskill’s tweet entirely out of the original story and ignored the evidence that the Missouri senator and armed services committee member did exactly the opposite of what she claimed.
Sean Davis of The Federalist busted the Times on Twitter:
Red State reported that this key part was cut out of the Times story:
Senator Claire McCaskill, Democrat of Missouri, cast doubt on Mr. Sessions’s explanation that he had met with the Russian ambassador because of his duties as a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, saying that was beyond the panel’s jurisdiction.
“I’ve been on the Armed Services Com for 10 years,” she wrote on Twitter on Thursday. “No call or meeting w/Russian ambassador. Ever. Ambassadors call members of Foreign Rel Com.”
News Diffs showed the part the Times cut out of its story without ever telling its readers:
McCaskill tried to clarify on Twitter at first suggesting that the meeting was no big deal because it occurred in 2013:
4 years ago went to meeting of many Senators about international adoptions. Russian Amb also attended.
— Claire McCaskill (@clairecmc) March 2, 2017
The Cleveland Plain Dealer reports that one of the meetings Sessions attended was an outreach to world leaders during the Republican party convention. There were 80 ambassadors in attendance:
Eighty ambassadors were invited to The Global Partners in Diplomacy Reception. They mingled with Cleveland business and ethnic community leaders in the elegant first-floor lobby of Severance Hall, sipping wine and tasting spring rolls, caprese sandwiches and other finger foods.
Business Insider reports the ‘meeting’ was Sessions giving a keynote address at a “defense and national-security luncheon” put on by the Heritage Foundation before about 100 guests.
The Washington Post reports that Sessions also had a private meeting “at the height of what U.S. intelligence officials say was a Russian cyber campaign to upend the U.S. presidential race” but didn’t report what the meeting was about.
Senator Chuck Schumer (D) of New York called for an Obama-named justice department deputy to head up any investigation:
“[T]hat responsibility [should] fall to the Acting Deputy Attorney General Dana Boente, who is a career civil servant originally appointed U.S. attorney by President Obama.”
As Independent Journal Review reports, Sessions also had ‘meetings with Russians’ in the 1990s:
Congressional records show that the Senator traveled to Russia multiple times in the 1990s when he was acting as United States Attorney for the Southern District of Alabama. The trips were a part of a series of missions trips coordinated by Sessions’ church.
That the meetings were part of church mission trips may make them seem much less nefarious.
Red State suggests that the Times preferred to leave the impression that Sessions’s meetings were improper rather than report that the Democrat McCaskill was wrong.
Democrats say Sessions is damaged goods because he “perjured himself” when he stated as his confirmation hearing that he had no meetings with Russians on rigging the election.