Sessions denies lying on Russia, pleads hazy memory
WASHINGTON — Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Tuesday displayed a hazy memory of the Trump campaign’s discussions about and dealings with Russians in the 2016 election, denying he ever lied to Congress about those contacts but blaming the chaos of the race for fogging his recollections.
During more than five hours of testimony to Congress, Sessions sought to explain away apparent contradictions in his earlier accounts by citing the exhausting nature of Donald Trump’s upstart but surging bid for the White House. He also denied under repeated questioning from Democrats that he had been influenced by Trump.
But after saying under oath months ago that he was unaware of any relationship between the campaign and Russia, Sessions acknowledged for the first time that the arrest of a low-level campaign adviser reminded him after all of a meeting at which the aide, George Papadopoulos, proposed setting up a get-together between Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“After reading his account and to the best of my recollection,” Sessions told the House Judiciary Committee, “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,” he added, “and I would gladly have reported it had I remembered it because I pushed back against his suggestion that I thought may have been improper.”
When child sex isn’t rape: French to set age of consent
PARIS — Is a 13-year-old old enough to agree to sex with an adult? That’s a question France is asking as the government prepares to set a legal age for sexual consent for the first time.
Twice in recent weeks, French courts have refused to prosecute men for rape after they had sex with 11-year-old girls because authorities couldn’t prove coercion. Amid the public disbelief over the situation, the French government is drafting a bill to say that sex with children under a certain age is by definition coercive.
Justice Minister Nicole Belloubet provoked consternation among feminist groups Monday by saying a legal minimum age of 13 for sexual consent “is worth considering.”
Activists staged a small protest Tuesday in central Paris to argue that the age should be set at 15. Protesters waved placards that read “for him impunity, for her a life sentence” in reference to the recent cases.
“We want the law to guarantee that before 15 there can be no concept of consent,” French feminist activist Caroline de Haas said.
Senate GOP insisting on ‘Obamacare’ repeal for tax overhaul
WASHINGTON — Senate Republicans said Tuesday they are intent on repealing the health care law requirement that Americans get health insurance, targeting the provision as a way to finance deep tax cuts in their far-reaching overhaul.
The surprise renewal of the failed effort to repeal the law’s mandate came a day after President Donald Trump renewed pressure on GOP lawmakers to include the repeal in their tax legislation. It has sharp political stakes for Trump, who lacks a major legislative achievement after nearly 10 months in office.
The move by Republicans in the Senate Finance Committee upended the debate over the tax measure just as it was inching closer to passage following months of fine-tuning and compromise. It turned the debate into an angry partisan referendum on health care and President Barack Obama’s signature law.
Beyond Trump’s prodding, the repeal move also was dictated by the Republicans’ need to find revenue sources for the massive tax-cut bill that calls for steep reductions in the corporate tax rate and elimination of some popular tax breaks.
“We are optimistic that inserting the individual mandate repeal would be helpful; that’s obviously the view of the Senate Finance Committee Republicans,” Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., told reporters.
Is gun-maker liable for Newtown? Court takes up the case
HARTFORD, Conn. — Newtown school shooter Adam Lanza heard the message loud and clear when gun-maker Remington Arms marketed an AR-15-style rifle as an overpowering weapon favored by elite military forces, a lawyer for relatives of some victims of the massacre told the Connecticut Supreme Court on Tuesday.
Lanza, who killed 20 first-graders and six educators with a Bushmaster XM15-E2S on Dec. 14, 2012, was obsessed with violent video games and idolized the Army Rangers, attorney Joshua Koskoff said.
Koskoff asked the high court to reinstate a wrongful death lawsuit against Madison, North Carolina-based Remington. He said the Bushmaster rifle and other AR-15-style firearms were designed as military killing machines and are too dangerous for the public, but Remington glorified them and marketed them to a younger demographic that included the 20-year-old Lanza.
“Adam Lanza heard the message,” Koskoff told the justices. “They marketed the weapon for exactly what it was. …”
By wire sources