Stanley Brand Quoted in Business Insider on Likelihood of Perjury Charges Against Attorney General Sessions
Stanley Brand, senior counsel in the litigation practice at Akin Gump, was quoted in the Business Insider article “‘Perjury is a very difficult charge to prove’: Sessions probably didn’t perjure himself when he denied Russia contacts at his confirmation hearing.” Attorney General Jeff Sessions, the article reports, has come under fire for what some say was misleading the Senate about his contacts with the Russian ambassador to the United States while he was a prominent surrogate for President Trump’s campaign.
Brand, who advises clients on congressional investigations, said obtaining a perjury conviction isn’t easy. In order to do so, he said the prosecution would have to make explicitly clear what each specific term in a question posed by Sen. Al Franken during Sessions’ confirmation hearings means, including the use of the word “affiliated” with regard to anyone who was involved with the Trump campaign.
Brand said, “The government would have to prove that he [Sessions] understood what the questioner meant by that term, and any ambiguity will be resolved in favor of the witness. As a result I think the viability of a perjury charge is dubious at best.”
Brand added that “inartful or imprecise questions,” susceptible to multiple meanings, “cannot sustain a conviction.” In other words, Franken’s question, Brand said, was open to enough interpretation that it would be very difficult to prove that Sessions perjured himself.