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Democratic Sen. Al Franken said Tuesday that he believes Attorney General Jeff Sessions committed perjury when he failed to mention his meetings with the Russian ambassador during his confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee.
“It’s hard to come to any other conclusion than he just perjured himself,” Franken told Jake Tapper during an interview on CNN’s “The Lead”.
During the hearing, Franken asked Sessions what he would do as attorney general if he found evidence that “anyone affiliated with the Russian government” communicated with the Trump campaign during the election. Sessions responded that he was “not aware of any of those activities” and “did not have any communications with the Russians.”
Last week, reports emerged that Sessions had met with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak twice during the campaign.
During a press conference last week announcing his recusal from all future investigations involving Trump campaign, Sessions said he should have “slowed down” in answering Franken’s question “and said, ‘But I did meet one Russian official a couple of times, and that would be the ambassador.'”
But in a letter Monday, Sessions more vigorously defended his response, writing, “I did not mention communications I had had with the Russian Ambassador over the years because the question did not ask about them.”
Franken called Sessions’ letter “ridiculous,” adding that he had been waiting for the letter before accusing Sessions of lying to Congress.
“I’ve been cutting him a lot of slack,” Franken said.
Franken did not tell Tapper whether he thinks Sessions should be punished for perjury, but said Sessions “should come before the committee and explain this.”
Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley, the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, has so far denied calls from Democratic lawmakers to bring Sessions back before the committee.
Natasha Bertrand contributed to this report.