It was said of the Seinfeld show that it was a TV program about nothing. It occurred to me, reading the transcript of Attorney General Jeff Sessions’s appearance before the Senate Intelligence Committee this afternoon, that the “Russia investigation”–this part of it, anyway–is also about nothing. Sessions must have wondered, at times, why in the world he was there. He testified that he knew nothing about the alleged Russian spear phishing of the RNC’s and DNC’s email accounts. That being the case, what questions did the Democratic senators have for him?
None of any significance, it turned out. There were a couple of mildly interesting points. Sessions was asked about his conversation with James Comey the day after Comey had his famous one-on-one discussion with President Trump, in which the president allegedly said he hoped Comey could see his way clear to letting Gen. Mike Flynn go. Comey testified that he told Sessions he was uncomfortable about meeting alone with the president, and Sessions merely shrugged as if to say, What can I do?
Sessions’ account made a lot more sense:
[W]hat I recall is that I did depart and I believe everyone else did depart and Director Comey was sitting in front of the president’s desk and they were talking. I believe it was the next day that he said something and expressed concern about being left alone with the president.
That in itself is not problematic. He did not tell me at that time any details about anything that was said that was improper. I affirmed his concern that we should be following the proper guidelines of the Department of Justice and basically backed him up in his concerns. He should not carry on any conversation with the president or anyone else about an investigation in a way that was not proper.
I felt … the former deputy attorney general knew the policy a good deal better than I did.
Sessions also elaborated on why he concurred with Rod Rosenstein’s recommendation that Comey be fired as FBI Director. It was a good reminder of what a terrible job Comey did, and how badly he departed from traditional standards of the Department of Justice and the FBI in connection with the criminal investigation of Hillary Clinton.
The Democrats wandered through various smears without ever asking Sessions the only questions that were relevant to the supposed purpose of the hearing. The craziness peaked with the Democrats’ dogged pursuit of the question whether Sessions and the Democrats’ best friend, the Russian ambassador, had been at the Mayflower Hotel on the same day. It was left to Senator Tom Cotton to restore sanity to the proceedings:
SEN. TOM COTTON: Well, I am on this side of the dais and I could say a very simple question that should be asked. “Did Donald Trump or any of his associates in the campaign collude with Russia in hacking those e-mails and releasing them to the public?” That’s where we started six months ago. We have now heard from six of the eight Democrats on this committee, and to my knowledge, I don’t think a single one of them asked that question. They have gone down lots of other rabbit trails but not that question.
Maybe that is because Jim Comey said last week as he said to Donald Trump on three occasions he assured him he was not under investigation. Maybe it’s because multiple Democrats on this committee have stated they have seen no evidence thus far after six months of our investigation and ten months or 11 months of an FBI investigation of any such collusion. I would suggest what do we think happened at the Mayflower? Mr. Sessions, are you familiar with what spies call trade craft?
SESSIONS: A little bit.
COTTON: That involves things like covert communications and dead drops and brush passes, right?
SESSIONS: That is part of of it.
COTTON: Do you like spy fiction: John le Carre, Daniel Silva, Jason Matthews?
SESSIONS: Yeah, Alan Furst, David Ignatius’ books.
COTTON: Do you like Jason Bourne or James Bond movies?
SESSIONS: No, yes, I do.
COTTON: Have you ever ever in any of these fantastical situations heard of a plot line so ridiculous that a sitting United States senator and an ambassador of a foreign government colluded at an open setting with hundreds of other people to pull off the greatest caper in the history of espionage?
SESSIONS: Thank you for saying that, Senator Cotton. It’s just like through the looking glass. I mean, what is this? I explained how in good faith I said I had not met with Russians, because they were suggesting I as a surrogate had been meeting continuously with Russians. I said I didn’t meet with them and now, the next thing you know I’m accused of some reception plotting some sort of influence campaign for the American election. It’s just beyond my capability to understand, and I really appreciate, Mr. Chairman, the opportunity to at least to be able to say publicly I didn’t participate in that and know nothing about it.
COTTON: And I gather that’s one reason why you wanted to testify today in public. Last week Mr. Comey in characteristic dramatic and theatrical fashion alluded ominously to what you call innuendo, that there was some kind of classified intelligence that suggested you might have colluded with Russia or that you might have otherwise acted improperly. You’ve addressed those allegations here today. Do you understand why he made that allusion?
SESSIONS: Actually I do not. Nobody’s provided me any information.
COTTON: Let’s turn to the potential crimes that we know have happened: leaks of certain information. Here’s a short list of what I have. The contents of alleged transcripts of alleged conversations between Mr. Flynn and Mr. Kislyak, the contents of President Trump’s phone calls with Australian and Mexican leaders, the content of Mr. Trump’s meetings with the Russian foreign minister and the ambassador, the leak of Manchester bombing — the Manchester bombing suspect’s identity and crime scene photos and last week within 20 minutes of this committee meeting in a classified setting is with Jim Comey, the basis of Mr. Comey’s innuendo was. Are these leaks serious threats to our national security, and is the Department of Justice taking them with the appropriate degree of seriousness and investigating and ultimately going to prosecute them to the fullest extent of the law?
SESSIONS: Thank you, Senator Cotton. We have had one successful case very recently in Georgia. That person has been denied bail I believe and is being held in custody. But some of these leaks, as you well know, are extraordinarily damaging to the United States security, and we have got to restore a regular order principle. We cannot have persons in our intelligence agencies, our investigative agencies or in Congress leaking sensitive matters, so this is — I’m afraid will result — is already resulting in investigations, and I’m — I fear that some people may find that they wish they hadn’t leaked it.
COTTON: Thank you. My time has expired but for the record it was stated earlier that the Republican platform was weakened on the point of arms for Ukraine. That is incorrect. The platform was actually strengthened, and I would note that it was the Democratic president who refused repeated bipartisan requests of this Congress to supply those arms to Ukraine.
The Democrats are making fools of themselves. But that is what their base–black-masked “antifa” hoodlums, the New York Times, the Washington Post–wants, so no doubt it will continue for a while. Eventually, though, they will have to admit that their Russia investigation, an attempt to smear the Trump administration with whatever the Russian government may or may not have done, has come to nothing.