Email: FBI Told Sessions He Didn't Need to Disclose Contacts With Russian Ambassador

Attorney General Jeff Sessions
Attorney General Jeff Sessions / Getty Images
December 11, 2017

A newly released email bolsters Attorney General Jeff Sessions' claim that he only failed to disclose contacts with the Russian ambassador to the U.S. on a form because an FBI agent told him that he did not have to do so.

In May, CNN broke the news that Sessions "did not disclose meetings he had last year with Russian officials when he applied for his security clearance," calling it "the latest example of Sessions failing to disclose contacts he had with Russian officials."

At the time, Sessions' office claimed that they had not disclosed a pair of meetings with Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak because they were told by the FBI that the former Alabama Republican senator did not need to disclose meetings that were part of his official duties as a lawmaker.

The story received wide play, nonetheless, and was picked up by the Washington Post, CNBC, and Politico.

But on Monday, CNN reported that a newly released email indicates Sessions was telling the truth.

"A newly released document shows that the FBI told an aide to Attorney General Jeff Sessions that Sessions wasn't required to disclose foreign contacts that occurred in the course of carrying out his government duties when he was a senator," reported CNN's Evan Perez, one of the authors of the original May story.

In the email from March, the FBI agent, whose name is not made public in the document released by the bureau, told Sessions' staff that "he was not required to list foreign government contacts while in official government business unless he developed personal relationships from such contacts." The agent then forwarded the email to his superior.

The FBI first released the document to a group called Right Wing Watch under a Freedom of Information Act request. CNN said it obtained the document separately from the Justice Department.