Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ memory seemed to lapse repeatedly when asked by lawmakers to recall details about a March 2016 meeting, where Trump campaign aide George Papadopoulos reportedly proposed a meeting between then-candidate Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin.
Sessions, who was testifying before the House Judiciary Committee, said he had “no recollection” of the meeting until he saw news reports, which jogged his memory. Even then details about Russia’s influence on the Trump campaign were hazy, but Sessions did remember enough to say he attempted to block such influence.
“I do now recall the March 2016 meeting at Trump Hotel that Mr. Papadopoulos attended, but I have no clear recollection of the details” Sessions said on Tuesday. “I believe that I wanted to make clear to him that he was not authorized to represent the campaign with the Russian government…But I did not recall the event, which occurred 18 months before my testimony of a few weeks ago.”
Several media outlets have previously reported that the meeting occurred and that Sessions “rejected a proposal by a junior campaign aide who offered to use his ‘Russian contacts’ to try and set up a meeting [between Trump and Putin]”. Sessions also denied remembering Trump campaign aide Carter Page telling Sessions that he was planning a trip to Russia during a dinner at the Capitol Hill Club.
“While I do not challenge [Carter Page’s] recollection, I have no memory of his presence at a dinner at the Capitol Hill Club or any passing conversation he may have had with me,” Sessions said.
The attorney general’s continued memory lapses drew the ire of Democratic lawmakers. Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), drew attention to the ridiculous number of times Sessions said that he couldn’t remember crucial details in previous testimonies. “Before the Senate Judiciary Committee in October you stated under oath ‘I don’t recall’ in some form of fashion 29 times,” Jeffries asked. “Is that correct?” Sessions said he had “no idea.”
“I have a copy of the transcript of your testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee in June”, Jeffries continued. “You stated under oath, ‘I don’t recall’, in some form or fashion, approximately 36 times. Is that correct?”. Sessions said he didn’t know.
Representative Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas) said she thought it was ludicrous that Sessions had managed to get away with so many non-answers to House questions.
“I can not imagine my memory failing so much,” she said.