Richard Burt, an American lobbyist who worked last year on behalf of Russian interests, attended two dinners with Jeff Sessions, now the attorney general, during the campaign, he told The Guardian Thursday. Burt’s claim directly contradicts an answer from Sessions during his Senate testimony Tuesday.
Near the end of the hearing, Senator John McCain asked Sessions if he’d had “any contacts with any representative, including any American lobbyist or agent of any Russian company” during the presidential campaign.
Sessions, who said some version of “I don’t recall” at least 25 times Tuesday, answered slightly more authoritatively. “I don’t believe so,” he said.
Could Sessions have been unaware of Burt’s ties to Russian entities? It’s unlikely.
Back in September, The New Yorker reported on Burt’s role helping write President Trump’s first major foreign-policy speech. A couple weeks later, Politico added details about Burt attending two dinners hosted by Sessions. He was reportedly “invited to discuss issues of national security and foreign policy.” Politico also identified Burt as a lobbyist for Russian interests and said he spent 2016 working “to promote one of Vladimir Putin’s top geopolitical priorities.”
This is not the first time Sessions has been caught making false statements under oath about meetings with representatives of Russia. Last time, it took him nearly two months to correct the record.