ACLU file complaint over Jeff Sessions Russia meeting denial during Senate hearing

'Few events are more corrosive to a democracy than having the Attorney General make false statements under oath about a matter the Justice Department is investigating'

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The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has filed an ethics complaint against Attorney General Jeff Sessions for denying he had contact with Russian officials. 

The non-profit organisation is asking the Alabama Bar to “determine whether Mr Sessions violated the Alabama Rules of Professional Conduct” during his Senate testimony. 

“Mr. Sessions made false statements during sworn testimony on January 10, 2017, and in a subsequent written response to questions on January 17, 2017,” the complaint reads. 

The complaint will ask the state’s bar to launch an investigation into whether Mr Sessions engaged in professional misconduct by denying his contact with Russian officials. 

“Few events are more corrosive to a democracy than having the Attorney General make false statements under oath about a matter the Justice Department is investigating,” ACLU's deputy legislative director Christopher Anders said.

“Mr Sessions told a falsehood to the Senate, and did nothing to correct his statement until he was exposed by the press more than a month later.  No attorney, whether just starting out as a new lawyer or serving as the country’s top law enforcement officer, should lie under oath. The Alabama bar must investigate this wrong fully and fairly.”

Mr Sessions, a former Alabama senator, was accused of lying under oath after he denied having two conversations with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak in July and September of last year during his Senate confirmation hearings. 

He said at the time: “I didn’t have, did not have communications with the Russians.”

However it later emerged he had met with Mr Kislyak on multiple occasions. 

Mr Sessions defended his January response this week saying: “I did not mention communications I had had with the Russian ambassador over the years, because the question did not ask about them.”

However he did concede he should have been more careful in his testimony, adding: “I should have slowed down and said, 'but I did meet one Russian official a couple of times.'” 

Following the revelations about his meetings, Mr Sessions agreed to step aside from an investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, despite still having the support of the President.

When Mr Trump was asked this week if Mr Sessions should remove himself from the investigations into Russian influence in the election, the President said: “I don't think so at all. I don't think he should do that at all.”

Details emerged this week to suggest Mr Sessions, America’s most senior law enforcement officer, met with Mr Kislyak a third time

In April 2016, during Mr Trump’s presidential campaign, Mr Sessions and Mr Kislyak both attended a small event at which Mr Trump made a foreign policy speech. It is not known if the pair spoke directly.

The Independent has contacted the office of Mr Sessions for further comment. 

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