Justice Department Releases Sessions' Disclosure Form, A Day Late
Updated 2 p.m.
A day late, the Justice Department complied this morning with a federal court order and released part of a security clearance form dealing with Attorney General Jeff Sessions' contacts with foreign governments.
On June 12, a judge had ordered the agency to provide the information within 30 days, a deadline that passed on Wednesday.
In a filing Thursday morning with the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, the Justice Department released that part of Sessions' form which poses the question:
"Have you or any of your immediate family in the past seven (7) years[bold font in original] had any contact with a foreign government, its establishment (such as embassy, consulate, agency, military service, intelligence or security service, etc.) or its representatives, whether inside or outside the U.S.?"
Sessions checked "No."
A recently launched ethics watchdog group called American Oversight filed a Freedom of Information Act request in March for sections of the Standard Form 86 relating to Sessions' contact "with any official of the Russian government."
The group then filed a lawsuit in April after it said the government didn't provide the documents.
"Jeff Sessions is our nation's top law enforcement officer, and it is shocking one of his first acts after being named Attorney General was to mislead his own agency about a matter of national security," the group's executive director, Austin Evers, said in a statement.
The Standard Form 86, more commonly called SF86, is a detailed form required to obtain security clearance for certain government positions. It's the same form presidential adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner has recently had to revise after omitting meetings with Russian officials.
Sessions has admitted to speaking with Russia's ambassador to the U.S., Sergey Kislyak, at least twice in 2016, which he did not disclose at his confirmation hearing. But in June, Sessions testified to senators that the "suggestion that I participated in any collusion" with the Russian government "is an appalling and detestable lie."
In a statement last May, the Justice Department said Sessions "was instructed [by the FBI investigator handling the background check] not to list meetings with foreign dignitaries and their staff connected with his Senate activities."
American Oversight says it's nonpartisan, but its staff has connections to Democrats, according to USA Today.
NPR's Mary Louise Kelly contributed to this report.
Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.