Washington, DC – The Department of Justice (DOJ) confirmed this morning that Attorney General Jeff Sessions successfully misled the FBI about his contacts with Russian government officials during his security clearance application process.

Earlier on Thursday morning, DOJ released a single, heavily-redacted page of Attorney General Jeff Sessions’s SF-86 security clearance application form to American Oversight following a lawsuit from the watchdog group.

Speaking at a status conference in front of Judge Moss of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia hours after releasing Sessions’s redacted SF-86, DOJ attorneys stated that the FBI had searched the interview notes from Sessions’s background investigation and found no reference to any meetings between Sessions and officials of the Russian government — indicating that Sessions did not mention the meetings and that the FBI did not discover the meetings through its own investigation.

American Oversight had sued DOJ in April to force the release of Sessions’s security clearance documents – including his SF-86 and the FBI interview notes – to better understand how the Attorney General had disclosed his contacts with Russian government officials.

Statement from Austin Evers, Executive Director of American Oversight:

“Jeff Sessions is our nation’s top law enforcement officer, and it is shocking that he would lie to the FBI on an issue of national security. From Jeff Sessions to Jared Kushner to Donald Trump, Jr., the president’s closest confidants appear to have collective amnesia about their dealings with the Russian government.

“It’s one thing to know that the Attorney General lied on his security clearance form, but it’s another to see a potential felony in black and white. Mr. Sessions has advised federal prosecutors across the country to charge defendants with the most serious crimes, carrying the toughest penalties. Special Counsel Robert Mueller should take him at his word.

“Making false statements in a security clearance application can be a felony, and American Oversight is deeply concerned that Trump administration political appointees may be interfering in the FOIA process to protect the Attorney General from the release of potentially incriminating information.”

Background – American Oversight’s Investigation of Sessions’s SF-86:

  • On March 20, 2017, American Oversight filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request with the Department of Justice seeking the release of the portion of Attorney General Jeff Sessions’s SF-86 security clearance form, along with any notes prepared by FBI background investigators, relating to Sessions’s contacts with Russian officials.
  • On April 19, American Oversight sued the Department of Justice for failing to respond to the Sessions FOIA request as well as a separate FOIA request about White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus’s attempts to interfere at the FBI.
  • On June 12, Judge Moss of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia ordered DOJ to produce Sessions’s SF-86 and the background investigation notes – or indicate whether those documents are exempt from release under FOIA – by July 12, 2017.

More about American Oversight’s investigation into the Trump administration’s actions related to Russian interference in the 2016 election can be found here