The Justice Department argued on Wednesday that Sessions did not make any mistakes.
Sarah Isgur Flores, a Justice Department spokeswoman, told CNN that an FBI official who assisted Sessions in filling out the form told him he did not need to include every foreign contact he had as a senator.
A Justice Department official with knowledge of the situation told ABC that the stipulation to include every foreign contact would be particularly burdensome and broad for a senator.
The portion of the form that requests foreign contacts says applicants do not have to share meetings with foreign officials while abroad on government business, but Sessions’ meetings with Kislyak were in the United States.
The failure to disclose his meetings with Russian officials were the reason Sessions was forced to recuse himself of overseeing the FBI’s investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.
During his confirmation hearing in January, Sessions failed to disclose he met with Kislyaktwice in 2016when asked about Trump campaign connections to Russian officials. After The Washington Post revealed that Sessions met with Kislyak twice, the attorney generalrecused himselffrom any Justice Department investigation into Russian meddling in the U.S. campaign.
Sessions, who advisedDonald Trumpduring the presidential campaign, insisted at the time that his meetings with Kislyak were normal and that the Russian ambassador was just one of a number of diplomats who sought meetings with him. Sessions later amended his testimony to the Senate to include his meetings with Kislyak.
The Department of Justice did not immediately respond to a HuffPost request for comment Wednesday. A statement was related in a Twitter message, however.
DoJ statement: Soooooo many foreign officials. How do you keep track of all of them?pic.twitter.com/5thjZH2kSq— Jim Roberts (@nycjim) May 25, 2017
Sessions is the third Trump official facing scrutiny for failing to disclose information while seeking a security clearance. Michael Flynn, fired as Trump’s national security adviser in February after misleading Vice PresidentMike Penceabout conversations with Kislyak, alsofailed to disclose incomefrom Russia when he applied for a renewal of his security clearance last year, according to The New York Times.Jared Kushner, Trump’s senior adviser and son-in-law, warned the FBI a day after submitting his security clearance forms that he had failed to list foreign contacts.
“In the Bush Administration someone who lied on a security clearance form would have been out the door within 24 hrs,” Richard W. Painter, a law professor at the University of Minnesota and the chief White House ethics lawyer for George W. Bush, said on Twitter.