Attorney General Jeff Sessions said Tuesday that he only recalled a meeting with Trump campaign advisers, during which the prospect of a face-to-face Trump-Putin meeting was raised, after he read news reports about the event.
"I had no recollection of this until I saw these news reports," Sessions told the House Judiciary Committee, in reference to meetings of the campaign's national security team, attended by campaign advisers George Papadopoulos and Carter Page.
Sessions also said the Trump campaign was too chaotic for him to remember everything that happened.
Papadopoulos and Page have said they discussed their contacts with Russian officials at campaign meetings. Papadopoulos said he raised the prospect of a trip by then-candidate Donald Trump to Russia at a March 2016 meeting where Sessions was present. Page has said he told Sessions in person about a speech he was giving in Russia in the summer of 2016.
But in October, Sessions told a Senate committee that he was "not aware" that anyone associated with the campaign had communicated with Russian officials.
Late last month federal investigators revealed that Papadopolous secretly pleaded guilty on Oct. 5 to lying to FBI agents about when he met with Russian nationals to get "dirt" on Hillary Clinton.
Page, a former national security adviser to the Trump campaign, testified earlier this month behind closed doors that he had mentioned his upcoming speech to Sessions last summer. Sessions said he did not recall the brief interaction, which Page said took place at the Capitol Hill Club, a private Republican social club in Washington.
From Sessions' prepared testimony:
I do now recall the March 2016 meeting at Trump Hotel that Mr. Papadopoulos attended, but I have no clear recollection of the details of what he said during that meeting. After reading his account, and to the best of my recollection, I believe that I wanted to make clear to him that he was not authorized to represent the campaign with the Russian government, or any other foreign government, for that matter. But I did not recall this event, which occurred 18 months before my testimony of a few weeks ago, and would gladly have reported it.
As for Mr. Page, while I do not challenge his recollection, I have no memory of his presence at a dinner at the Capitol Hill Club or any passing conversation he may have had with me as he left.
All of you have been in a campaign. But most of you have not participated in a presidential campaign. And none of you had a part in the Trump campaign. It was a brilliant campaign in many ways. But it was a form of chaos every day from day one. We traveled all the time, sometimes to several places in one day. Sleep was in short supply.
And I was still a full-time Senator keeping a very full schedule during this time.
During this year, I have spent close to 20 hours testifying before Congress before today.
I have been asked to remember details from a year ago, such as who I saw on what day, in what meeting, and who said what when.
In all of my testimony, I can only do my best to answer all of your questions as I understand them and to the best of my memory. But I will not accept and reject accusations that I have ever lied under oath. That is a lie.