Sessions case has precedent from Nixon years


"Jeff Sessions Needs to Go" says Richard W. Painter, a professor at the University of Minnesota Law School and chief White House ethics lawyer under President George W. Bush from 2005 to 2007. It appeared as a column in The New York Times.

In the wake of Wednesday's revelation that Attorney General Jeff Sessions spoke with Russia's ambassador to the United States while working with the Trump campaign, despite denying those contacts during his confirmation hearings, key Republican and Democratic lawmakers are calling for him to recuse himself from overseeing any Justice Department investigation into contacts between the campaign and the Russian government.

It's a bombshell of a story. And it's one with a clear and disturbing precedent.

In 1972 Richard G. Kleindienst, the acting attorney general, appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee in a confirmation hearing on his nomination by President Richard Nixon to be attorney general.

Several Democratic senators were concerned about rumors of White House interference in a Justice Department antitrust suit against International Telephone and Telegraph Corporation, a campaign contributor to the Republican National Committee. They asked Kleindienst several times if he had ever spoken with anyone at the White House about the I.T.T. case. He said he had not.

That wasn't true. Later, after Kleindienst was confirmed as attorney general, the special prosecutor, Leon Jaworski, and his team uncovered an Oval Office tape recording of a phone call in which Nixon told Kleindiesnt to drop the I.T.T. case. Kleindienst claimed that he thought the senators' questions were limited to a particular period, not the entire time during which the case was pending.

Jaworski didn't buy it. He filed criminal charges against Kleindienst, who had earlier resigned as attorney general.

Last month, during Mr. Sessions's confirmation hearing for attorney general, Senator Al Franken, Democrat from Minnesota, asked Mr. Sessions what he would do if he learned of evidence that anyone affiliated with the Trump campaign communicated with the Russian government in the course of the 2016 campaign.

"I'm not aware of any of those activities," Mr. Sessions answered, adding, "I have been called a surrogate at a time or two in that campaign, and I did not have communications with the Russians."

Mr. Sessions' answer was at best a failure to provide accurate information to Congress, the same conduct that cost Attorney General Kleindienst his job.

And this time, unlike in 1972, the attorney general's misleading testimony involves communications not with the president of the United States, but with a rival nuclear superpower.

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In "Did a Yankee make this list? S.C. ranked one of the worst states to live in," reporter Graham Cawthon of The Island Packet breaks down the bad news. We believe a recount is in order.

A new report from U.S. News & World Report puts the Palmetto State in the embarassing spot of 45 in ranking the best states to call home in 2017.

The top ranked states include: 1) Massachusetts, 2) New Hampshire, 3) Minnesota, 4) North Dakota, and 5) Washington.

The first Southern state to make the list was Florida at 24. North Carolina came in at 25 and Georgia was 36. The only states to underperform South Carolina on the list were New Mexico (46), Alabama (47), Arkansas (48), Mississippi (49), and Louisiana (50).

South Carolina's education was ranked the worst in the country. Its economy, however, was given the much more respectable rank of 16.

The rankings, which look at more than 60 metrics, focus on health care, education, crime and corrections, infrastructure, opportunity, economy and government. It apparently did not take into consideration sunsets, seafood, beaches and golf

Notable & Quotable is compiled by Graham Osteen. Contact him at