Jeff Sessions’s Worst Week in Washington

Jeff Sessions's memory failed him last week.

Or, more accurately, it failed him Jan. 10 when he told Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) during his confirmation hearing to become attorney general: “I have been called a surrogate at a time or two in that campaign and I didn't have — did not have communications with the Russians, and I'm unable to comment on it."

Except that he did “have communications with the Russians." Twice, in fact. As The Washington Post reported this past week, Sessions met with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak at the Republican National Convention in July and then at his office in September.


At first, Sessions tried to explain away this seeming contradiction by noting that he met with Kislyak in his official capacity as a senator, not as a surrogate for the Trump campaign — making his answer to Franken perfectly fine.

When it became clear that wasn't going to work — or come close to working — Sessions decided that he would recuse himself from any and all investigations into the 2016 campaign by the Justice Department, a clear attempt to throw a bone to the howling pack in hopes that the controversy would die down.

Sessions, still, didn't have a good answer on his answer to Franken. “I was taken aback about this brand-new information," Sessions said Thursday, referencing the CNN report cited by Franken about routine contacts between the Trump campaign and Russian intelligence officials. “It struck me very hard, and that's what I focused my answer on. In retrospect, I should have slowed down and said I did meet one Russian official a couple of times.”

Yes, you should have. And it seems odd that Sessions simply forgot — because he was flustered by Franken's question — that not only had he met with a Russian but he had met with the Russian ambassador.

The cherry on top of Sessions's week, though, came when “Saturday Night Live" devoted its cold open to him — portraying him as a “Forrest Gump"-like character.

Sessions's next weeks may not be much better. President Trump was reportedly furious about his attorney general's decision to recuse himself, an anger that seemed to prompt a flurry of so-far unsubstantiated tweets from Trump that alleged then-President Barack Obama had ordered the wiretapping of Trump Tower during the 2016 campaign.

Jeff Sessions, for forgetting the Russian ambassador is, well, Russian, you had the Worst Week in Washington. Congrats, or something.

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'SNL' turns Kate McKinnon's Jeff Sessions into Forrest Gump

Attorney General Jeff Sessions got the "Saturday Night Live" treatment on Saturday night.

The NBC variety series opened its latest episode with Kate McKinnon stepping in as Sessions, and turned the former senator from Alabama into the Tom Hanks' character Forrest Gump from the 1994 hit film.

"Hello, my name's Jeff, Jeff Sessions," McKinnon's Sessions, dressed as Gump, said with a southern drawl while sitting on a park bench waiting for a bus. "I'm the attorney general of the whole United States."

McKinnon's Sessions was also holding Gump's iconic box of chocolates.

"I always say life is like a box of chocolates," McKinnon as Sessions said. "Sure are a lot of brown ones in there."

Sessions as Gump spoke with people sitting on the bench about what it was like being in the government and showed a photo of "best good friend" counselor to the president, Kellyanne Conway.

"She ain't got no legs," McKinnon as Sessions said showing the photo of Conway sitting in a crouched position on a couch in the Oval Office. "We're about as close as peas and carrots. She's the best talker you've ever heard. They say she could sell stink to a skunk."

As the sketch went on, Sessions told those who sat down next to him that his lawyers told him to "Run! Jeffrey! Run!" following Sessions' week in the news.

On Thursday, Sessions recused himself from any investigations that dealt with ties between Russia and the Trump campaign. This was after news broke that he had met with the Russian ambassador to the United States, a meeting he did not disclose at his Senate confirmation hearings.

"I never talked to any Russians ever," McKinnon as Sessions told someone sitting next to them on the bench.
After a bus drove by, the next person to sit next to Sessions on the bench was Beck Bennett's shirtless Vladimir Putin.

"This meeting never happened," Benett's Putin said.

"I wasn't gonna remember it anyway," McKinnon as Sessions replied.

Trump angry and frustrated at staff over Sessions fallout

President Donald Trump is extremely frustrated with his senior staff and communications team for allowing the firestorm surrounding Attorney General Jeff Sessions to steal his thunder in the wake of his address to Congress, sources tell CNN.

"Nobody has seen him that upset," one source said, adding the feeling was the communications team allowed the Sessions news, which the administration deemed a nonstory, to overtake the narrative.

On Thursday, Sessions recused himself from any current or future investigations into ties between Russia and the Trump campaign after it was reported he had met with the Russian ambassador to the US, something he had previously failed to disclose.

In particular, the renewed focus on Russia is seen as a major letdown after Tuesday when top officials were riding high, congratulating one another on Trump's speech to Congress.

"The staff fumbled," Trump told the team for not being prepared when the Sessions story came out, according to another source.

The President was "hot" and exasperated Thursday night after Sessions' recusal, a source familiar with the situation said, considering it hasty and overkill.

When the President returned to the White House Thursday evening from a day trip to Virginia, there were "a lot of expletives." The source said for more than a week Trump had been lamenting that his senior staff "just keep getting in their own way."

"The President had a fantastic week advancing his agenda to lift up all Americans and keep the nation safe. His joint session speech will go down in history as one of the best," White House spokesman Sean Spicer said in response to CNN's reporting.

The President is showing increasing flashes of anger over the performance of his senior staff and daily developments about Russia overshadowing his message, multiple people inside the White House and outside the administration told CNN.

Trump voiced his frustration to his inner circle in the Oval Office Friday, sources said. He feels attacked by the media, former Obama administration officials and others, and frustrated that things are not going more smoothly. The President expressed his anger at non-stop leaks undermining his administration, the sources said.
One source familiar with the Friday meeting said Trump was angry at senior staff, including chief of staff Reince Priebus, about the state of affairs at the White House this week.

Word had spread through the White House that Priebus had been chewed out but those in the room dispute that.
Priebus declined to comment on the record about the meeting.

One official, who was in the Oval Office, said there was an "animated discussion" about a number of subjects during the meeting -- the forthcoming immigration executive order, health care and Russia developments.

Trump is upset because he doesn't believe he is getting the credit he thinks he deserves for his time in office so far because of self-inflicted wounds and missteps, the source said. An informed presidential ally outside government but close to the President said Trump was really angry about having a "mini disaster" a week. The President's mood is adding to tremendous pressure inside the West Wing and aides have been seen in tears in recent days at multiple meetings.

With so much on the administration's plate -- leaks, Russia story, pending executive order and Obamacare repeal and replacement -- Priebus said he would not go to Florida with the President this weekend as had been previously planned, a source told CNN. He was on the manifest, and a big donor reception by the Republican National Committee which Priebus used to chair was on Preibus' schedule.

But the President said he thought it wouldn't be a good idea since he is not happy with the state of matters right now, the same source said.

A White House official disputed that Priebus was supposed to travel to Florida, adding that he stayed home this weekend for a family celebration.

White House chief strategist Steve Bannon, who initially decided to also stay in Washington Friday, ended up traveling to Florida Saturday and is joining Trump, Sessions, Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross at dinner at Mar-a-Lago.

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