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Franken: I think Sessions committed perjury
01:15 - Source: CNN

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Sessions shouldn't have the benefit of not having to answer questions, Whitehouse said

Sen. Al Franken said he believes that Sessions committed perjury

CNN  — 

Attorney General Jeff Sessions needs to appear before a Senate committee again to answer questions about his communications with Russian officials, a Democratic senator said Wednesday.

“Attorney General Sessions should come back before the committee,” Rhode Island Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse told CNN’s Alisyn Camerota on “New Day.” “Think of it this way – had he given a truthful answer at the time, would there have been follow-up questions? Of course there would have been follow-up questions.”

“It would have taken over the hearing. People would have said, ‘What did you say to the meetings?’ We would have asked, ‘What aides had notes on from the meetings?’” he said. “He shouldn’t get the benefit by not having to answer the questions by not knowing what the truth is, and that’s avoiding what are logical follow-up questions had he told the truth.”

Sessions, who was a surrogate for the Trump campaign, met twice last year with the Russian ambassador to the US. He has maintained that his meetings with Sergey Kislyak were in his capacity as a senator and not related to the campaign, and has vowed to recuse himself from any investigations dealing with the Trump campaign or transition.

He defended his answers about Russian contacts to the Senate Judiciary Committee as “correct” in a letter Monday.

Minnesota Democratic Sen. Al Franken, however, told CNN’s Jake Tapper on “The Lead” Tuesday that he believes Sessions committed perjury during his confirmation hearing when he did not disclose previous meetings with a Russian ambassador to the US.

Whitehouse said it is not yet clear if Sessions perjured himself, but requiring him to answer more questions could provide some clarity.

“I don’t think we can know that yet,” he said. “I think there is circumstantial evidence that needs to be developed about what the content was of the communications between him and the Russian ambassador and whether he communicated that content back to the Trump campaign.”

“If it was a casual courtesy meeting, it may be more understandable, but we need to get to the bottom of the questions,” Whitehouse added.