Attorney General Jeff Sessions used campaign money to fund his trip to the Republican National Convention, according to campaign finance records.
While at the RNC in Cleveland, Ohio, in August, then-U.S. senator paid for convention travel expenses out of his own political funds, including making two payments of $1,395 to the Sheraton Cleveland Airport and $223 to the Westin Hotel in Cleveland. According to the Wall Street Journal, both were deemed as “lodging” expenses.
Sessions probably used his campaign account, rather than the official Senate one, because as senior adviser to Trump, it would be difficult for him to rationalize he “wasn’t attending the convention for any political reason,” according to Larry Noble, general counsel at the Campaign Legal Center.
“If he was truly there solely as a member of the Armed Services Committee, then he could’ve used his legislative account,” Noble said.
He also made comments related to the-then Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s campaign at a Heritage Foundation event during the RNC, where he also met Russian ambassador Sergie Kislyak, according to a person at the event in Cleveland.
Senators frequently meet with ambassadors but Sessions is now facing accusations of perjury for not disclosing his meeting with Kislyak.
“I never met with any Russian officials to discuss issues of the campaign,” Sessions insisted on Wednesday.
He also said the same thing when he was questioned by Sen. Al Franken during his confirmation hearing.
“If there is any evidence that anyone affiliated with the Trump campaign communicated with the Russian government in the course of this campaign, what will you do?” asked Franken.
“Sen. Franken, I'm not aware of any of those activities,” said Sessions. “I have been called a surrogate at a time or two in that campaign and I did not have communications with the Russians and I'm unable to comment on it.”
But it is now revealed Sessions did have contact with Russia on many occasions, which his spokeswoman Sarah Isgur Flores downplayed.
“There was absolutely nothing misleading about his answer. Last year, the senator had over 25 conversations with foreign ambassadors as a senior member of the Armed Services Committee,” she said. “... He was asked during the hearing about communications between Russia and the Trump campaign — not about meetings he took as a senator and a member of the Armed Services Committee.”
Trump also supported his attorney general.
But not many of the Democrats took Sessions’ side:
And we need Attorney General Jeff Sessions – who should have never been confirmed in the first place – to resign. We need it now.— Elizabeth Warren (@SenWarren) March 2, 2017
Can Jeff Sessions fire whoever takes over the Russia investigation at DoJ?— Scott Dworkin (@funder) March 3, 2017
No question—we need a special prosecutor. #trumprussia
Representatives for the White House and Sessions have defended his unwillingness to disclose his contacts with Kislyak by arguing the meeting happened in his capacity as a U.S. senator rather than as a campaign official.
Earlier Thursday, the attorney general recused himself from any existing or future investigations related to Trump's campaign.
.@jeffsessions How are you going to function as Attorney General if you can't remember who you spoke to or what you talked about?— Lauren Duca (@laurenduca) March 3, 2017
So Carter Page, Jared Kushner, Michael Flynn, Paul Manafort & Jeff Sessions all spoke to Russia without telling Trump?— Sean Kent (@seankent) March 3, 2017