Justice Dept releases Sessions' ‘blank’ security clearance form

Justice Dept releases Sessions' ‘blank’ security clearance form
After defying a court order to release Attorney General Jeff Session’s security clearance form relating to his contact with the Russian government, the Justice Department has released a heavily redacted version.

The document was released early Thursday morning to American Oversight after the group sued the Justice Department and the FBI in a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request.

The Justice Department initially withheld the document, but then produced the single page of the Standard Form 86 (SF-86), one day after the deadline passed, reported the Washington Examiner.

On the released document, Sessions checked a box stating he did not have any contact with a foreign government in the past seven years. Further details are redacted under a privacy exemption.

American Oversight filed the FOIA request in March, requesting sections of Sessions’ federal security clearance form. When the Justice Department and the FBI failed to release the records, American Oversight filed a lawsuit in April.

“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 to NPR.

Last month, a US district court judge in Washington, DC gave the Justice Department one month to make public the page of Sessions’ security clearance application on which he was supposed to list contacts he had with foreign officials.

That deadline was Wednesday, June 12.

“The court gave DOJ thirty days to produce Attorney General Session’s security clearance form, DOJ has already confirmed its contents to the press and Sessions has testified about it to Congress, so there is no good reason to withhold this document from the public,” Evers said.

During his confirmation, Sessions failed to disclose meetings he attended with Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak and omitted contacts from his security clearance application.

A representative from the FBI told Sessions not to include meetings he had with Russian officials if they happened in his capacity as a senator, the Justice Department said.

The attorney general later admitted to speaking with Kislyak at least twice last year, but dismissed allegations he was working with the Russian government.

“The suggestion that I participated in any collusion, that I was aware of any collusion with the Russian government, or hurt this country which I have served with honor for 35 years, or to undermine the integrity of our democratic process, is an appalling and detestable lie,” Sessions said during a hearing before the Senate Intelligence Committee on June 16.

The group is also seeking any Department of Justice records relating to any contacts between then-Senator Sessions and Russian officials during the 2016 presidential election campaign.

American Oversight says it is nonpartisan, but its staff has connections to the Democratic Party, according to USA Today.