ACLU files ethics complaint against Jeff Sessions over Senate testimony

Jeff Sessions
Sen. Jeff Sessions, testifies on Capitol Hill, Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2017 [Photo Credit: AP Photo | Alex Brandon]

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has filed an ethics complaint against Attorney General Jeff Sessions over his false testimony to the the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee.

The complaint, filed Thursday with the Alabama State Bar, asks the body to investigate a potential rules violation after Sessions made false statements during sworn testimony at his confirmation hearing for attorney general.

In his confirmation hearing, then-Senator Sessions was asked about any contact he had with members of the Russian government and responded at the time that he “did not have any communications with the Russians.” It has since come to light that Sessions met with Russia’s ambassador to the United States on at least two occasions.

“False testimony made under oath is one of the most serious ethical offenses a lawyer can make and one any state bar should investigate vigorously,” said ACLU National Political Director Faiz Shakir. “Alabamians and Americans from all walks of life should be assured that the organizations responsible for regulating lawyers in their state takes ethical violations seriously — no matter how powerful that lawyer may be.”

Alabama State Bar rules state that it is professional misconduct for a lawyer to “engage in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation.” Sessions has been a member of the bar since 1973.

In the complaint, the ACLU says the report of the meetings with the Russian ambassador “does not square” with Sessions’s sworn Jan. 10 Senate testimony.

“Few events are more corrosive to a democracy than having the Attorney General make false statements under oath about a matter the Justice Department is investigating,” added Christopher Anders, deputy director of the ACLU’s legislative office. “Jeff Sessions told a falsehood to the Senate, and did nothing to correct his statement until he was exposed by the press more than a month later. No attorney, whether just starting out as a new lawyer or serving as the country’s top law enforcement officer, should lie under oath. The Alabama bar must investigate this wrong fully and fairly.”

The filed complaint can be read below: