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News on The 700 Club: March 3, 2017

As seen on "The 700 Club," March 3: Double standard: Should Sessions resign when Lynch didn't?; Oregon bakers lost everything before even going to court - now their voice is heard, and more. Read Transcript


GORDON ROBERTSON: Welcome to the 700 Club.

President Trump is standing by his attorney general,

Jeff Sessions.

He says, Sessions didn't say anything wrong

during his Senate confirmation hearing.

TERRY MEEUWSEN: But Democrats are calling for Sessions

to resign, and some are suggesting

Sessions committed perjury during his hearing.

Abigail Robertson brings us this look, at how we got here.

ABIGAIL ROBERTSON: Just three weeks in,

President Trump's attorney general, Jeff Sessions,

is already in hot water.

JEFF SESSIONS: Let me be clear, I never

had meetings with Russian operatives

or Russian intermediaries about the Trump campaign.

And the idea that I was part of a quote,

"continuing exchange of information"

during the campaign, between Trump surrogates

and intermediaries for the Russian government,

is totally false.

ABIGAIL ROBERTSON: Less than 24 hours after the Justice

Department reported Sessions met with the Russian ambassador

during the presidential campaign,

the new attorney general announced this decision:

JEFF SESSIONS: I should not be involved investigating

a campaign I had a role in.

ABIGAIL ROBERTSON: The surprise announcement

came only two hours after reporters asked the president

if the attorney general should recuse himself

from an investigations into the Trump's campaign ties

with Russia.

I don't think so at all.

When did you first learn--

ABIGAIL ROBERTSON: Throughout the controversy,

President Trump has maintained total confidence

in his attorney general.

Mr. President, do you still have confidence

in the attorney general?

Total.

ABIGAIL ROBERTSON: But democratic leaders

want Sessions to go further.

Because the Department of Justice

should be above reproach, for the good

of the country attorney general Sessions should resign.

The fact that the attorney general, the top cop

in our country, lied under oath to the American people

is grounds for him to resign.

It's grounds for him to resign.

ABIGAIL ROBERTSON: Sessions defended himself,

saying it is not out of the ordinary for senators

to speak with investors from different countries.

A statement Speaker Ryan supported.

It's really common for members of Congress

to meet with ambassadors

ABIGAIL ROBERTSON: This specific interaction

raises eyebrows, because Sessions

was thought of as a surrogate for the Trump campaign,

and was asked under oath if he had

any contact with Russian officials about the election.

there is any evidence that anyone

affiliated with the Trump campaign communicated

with the Russian government in the course of this campaign

what will you do?

JEFF SESSIONS: Senator Franken, I'm

not aware on any of those activities.

I have been called a surrogate at a time or two

in that campaign, and I did not have communications

with the Russians.

ABIGAIL ROBERTSON: And in a written pre-hearing

questionnaire, Sessions was asked,

"Several of the president elect's nominees

or senior advisers have Russian ties.

Have you been in contact with anyone connected

to any part of the Russian government about the 2016

election, either before or after election day?

To which he replied, "No."

Sessions argues, he thought both questions focused

on the campaign, not contact.

JEFF SESSIONS: In general, my reply

to the question of Senator Franken

was honest and correct, as I understood it at the time.

I appreciate that some have taken the view

that this was a false comment.

That is not my intent.

That is not correct.

I will write the Judiciary Committee soon,

today or tomorrow, to explain this testimony for the record.

Some Some senators, like Claire McCaskill,

were quick to throw suspicion on Sessions

for meeting with the Russian ambassador in any capacity.

But it seems she forgot her own publicized interactions

with him, just a few years ago.

Sessions says he now thinks he should

have mentioned his interaction with the ambassador.

JEFF SESSIONS: In retrospect, I should have slowed down,

and said but I did meet one Russian official

a couple of time that would be the ambassador.

ABIGAIL ROBERTSON: The attorney general made it clear,

his announcement is not confirmation of the existence

or suggestion of an investigation

into the Trump campaign's ties with Russia.

Reporting from Washington, Abigail Robertson, CBN News.

GORDON ROBERTSON: Jay Sekulow of the American Center

for Law and Justice is with us.

Jay, this one has a lot of people learning Latin--

mens rea, what was the mental state of Senator Sessions,

when he was in that hearing.

What's your view of it?

JAY SEKULOW: Well, first of all, if you

listen to the question that was asked,

Senator Sessions answer was correct.

Gordon, you and I both practiced law for a long time,

and the fact is, that when I instruct

a witness who's about to be deposed or, take the stand.

I always tell them only answer the question

you're being asked.

Don't speculate, don't add to it.

If you listen to the entire question,

and it was a rambling question of Senator Frank,

it was clearly within the context

of campaign discussions.

Not simply, did you ever meet with someone?

It was in the context of campaign discussion.

So in that sense, Senator Sessions was correct.

The calls from the Democrats to say that Jeff Sessions should

resign--

by the way, Claire McCaskill with her changing statements

about meeting with ambassadors-- but this whole idea

of resigning over this is absurd.

Loretta Lynch met with the former president of the United

States on an airplane on the tarmac in Arizona,

while his wife was currently under investigation by the FBI.

She did not resign, and she was not impeached,

she was not removed from office.

So this is clearly a double standard.

But look, the Democrats smell a little blood here.

And what the Republicans need to do, in my view,

is protect their guy.

I've worked with Jeff Sessions for over 20 years.

He's an honorable man, he's a good man, he's an honest man.

He can clearly clarify if he needs to,

and he said he's going to answer the question.

The pre-questions by the way, "were there

contacts with the Russians regarding the Trump campaign

and election."

To which his answer was, "No, period."

So there is nothing here.

But again, this is the Washington machine at work.

But the real question that needs to be asked

is, who in the FBI and Department of Justice

is leaking this information to the press.

That's what I'd like to know, who's doing this.

GORDON ROBERTSON: Your following up on that.

You actually have some Freedom of Information requests

out to both agencies.

And it looked like Al Franken was reading the question,

it wasn't on the top of his mind.

So that leads you to, was this a prompted question

and how did he get the prompt?

Anything to that, or are you just in the beginning stages

of this.

JAY SEKULOW: We've written up the FOI,

is the Freedom of Information Act, request to both justice

and to the FBI.

We're asking for communications and conversations

between Senator Franken, his staff,

and the Department of Justice.

That will at least determine if there

was any kind of communication.

What I suspect here, Gordon, is that this was not

an off the top question.

This was written out.

He rambled clearly.

Now whether his staff prepared it,

were they tipped off or, did they

come up with this on their own, or was this just a question

he wanted to ask?

That I don't know the answer to.

I'm going to find out.

But I will tell you this, I'm going

to also check into him-- we're doing this in FOI requests, who

is leaking this information out to the Washington

Post and the New York Times.

And I contend, that this is a shadow government.

They are entrenched within the bureaucracy in Washington D.C,

loyalists to the Obama administration,

and they're deep within these agencies.

They're unelected, they're unaccountable,

they're not in lockstep with the current administration.

So what they are doing, is trying

to do basically a soft coup.

They're not going to overturn the government,

but they can stop the policies for moving forward.

So it's a shadow government, and the former President, Obama,

is not really hiding that.

Eric Holder, his former attorney general said,

"The President's ready to roll."

And I think that's what's happening.

So the president needs to get his own people

into these agencies.

But more than that, you've got to figure it out.

You've got to get out and find out

who these entrenched bureaucrats are,

that are doing this sabotage.

GORDON ROBERTSON: In the closing hours of the Obama

administration, they very intentionally put

into the record, and very intentionally went public,

with the whole chain of what did the Russians do,

and what is the intelligence committee and intelligence

community saying about this investigation.

And they did that, in order to prompt a further investigation

into what were the ties between the Trump campaign

and the Russian government?

Do you think we're going to see that kind of investigation?

Is there any evidence here of wrongdoing

by the Trump campaign?

JAY SEKULOW: So far, I haven't seen the evidence.

But look, I wouldn't be entitled to see the evidence.

But so far, according to Paul Ryan,

who's been briefed by the FBI and the investigative agencies,

they've not seen anything.

But there is also something else that

happened here, Gordon, and that was

on January 3rd of this year--

17 days left in the Obama administration.

They completely changed a protocol that's been in place

since the 1980s from President Reagan,

that says that when the NSA gets the raw Intel data-- that is,

the wiretaps, the phone taps--

that they review it, and then they

determine which agency it goes.

On January 3rd, with 17 days left to go,

they changed that rule, and say now 16 agencies

and all of their key people can get the raw data.

And that just gave more access to the information,

which provides for more leaks.

So I'd like to know about that investigation.

Why did that happen?

Why did they wait eight years before they

made that determination?

Someone explain that to me.

GORDON ROBERTSON: Do you think there's

any chance of a special prosecutor

in the nightmare of investigations,

turning political.

That's the number one.

Any chance here?

JAY SEKULOW: There's always a chance, but I doubt it.

The attorney general would have to appoint them,

and that's completely within the discretion of the attorney

general.

I think would be unnecessary, it'd be overly burdensome.

And I think what Jeff Sessions needs to do--

and Jeff as I said is a good man,

I worked with him when he was the attorney general of worked.

I worked with him, of course, in the United States Senate--

What he needs to do, is now be the attorney general

that he is.

Move forward with this, you clarify

any kind of questions that are out there.

The Democrats are smelling a little bit of blood.

Look, I think this that this attempt to knock off

key cabinet members and leadership within the Trump

team by the Democrats, is going to be the ongoing game here.

The Trump administration needs to be prepared for it.

We have a war room set up at the ACLJ on these kind of issues.

If there's wrongdoing, we want to know about that too.

But this kind of personal attacks

and saying that Jeff Sessions lied under oath, it's nonsense.

GORDON ROBERTSON: I agree, it's just not there.

And you look at the written question,

it's specific to the 2016 election.

If there's no conversation about the election,

then the answer is no.

So I see this going away.

Maybe not quickly, but going away.

But the larger issue is this sort of ongoing thing,

was there any contact with the Trump campaign

and the Russian government.

That's a bigger issue and has the Obama administration--

JAY SEKULOW: And that's an ongoing investigation

GORDON ROBERTSON: Yep.

Have they laid this trail, and is the American public

going to expect something, and where does that lead?

And that's a whole other discussion.

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