Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR), a Harvard-trained lawyer and former airborne infantry officer, mocked allegations that Attorney General Jeff Sessions colluded with Russian officials during a campaign event at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington during a campaign event in April 2016. Sessions gave two hours of testimony to the Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday. Cotton asked, “Mr. Sessions, are you familiar with what spies call tradecraft?” Sessions replied, “A little bit.”
 
Cotton went on to say, “That involves things like covert communications and dead drops and brush passes, right? Do you like spy fiction? Do you like Jason Bourne or James Bond movies?” Before slamming the DOJ probe into alleged Russian meddling, Cotton asked, “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?”
 
For the first time during the two hours of testimony and grilling before the Senate Intelligence Committee, Sessions was seen to chuckle. “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 didn’t meet with them,” he said.

Cotton slammed the Russia probe while listing several recent leaks of classified information to media outlets. Calling the leaks "real potential crimes," Cotton asked Sessions if the leaks will be "prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law." Here follow some of the leaks Cotton mentioned:

“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 conversations between Mr. Flynn and Mr. Kislyak.

"The contents of President Trump’s phone calls of Australian and Mexican leaders.

"The contents of Mr. Trump’s meetings with the Russian Foreign Minister and Ambassador.”

Sessions responded by saying that one person has been arrested and denied bail in Georgia for leaking classified information to the media. In addition, Sessions said the leaks are "extraordinarily damaging to national security."

'Nervous' Sessions

There was no such jocular exchange between Sessions and Sen. Kamala Harris, a newly elected Democrat from California. Harris, followed up concerns expressed by other Democrats who claimed that the former attorney general was refusing to answer certain questions based on rules and precedents set by the Department of Justice regarding communications between the White House and the Department. Harris sought to get Sessions to promise that he would provide documentation, such as personal notes and calendars, that would help the committee’s investigation. Sessions would only promise to review the rules of the Justice Department, and respond accordingly.
 
Harris, a former California attorney general, interrupted Sessions several times. Sessions appear to agitated before telling her that if she did not allow him to answer her question, “you’ll accuse me of lying. I’m not able to be rushed this fast. It makes me nervous.’’ After admitting that he could not remember details of his conversations or communications regarding Russia, he said he could not remember details of his conversations or communications on the subject of Russia. “I may have had some conversations and I think I did, with the general strategic concept of the possibility of whether or not Russia and the United States could get on a more harmonious relationship.” Regarding Russia, Sessions said that it is “tragic’’ that the two countries do not have better relations.

 

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Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat and the editor of Spero News.

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