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Sessions' Testimony Gives a Key Lesson in How to Answer Deposition Questions

· Deposition,Litigation tips,testimony

It was an amazing moment that may end up sinking, or at least discrediting, Jeff Sessions' tenure as Attorney General - and also gives us a great lesson in how to answer questions while under oath.

During his confirmation hearing, Sen. Sessions was asked this question from Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.):

Franken: CNN just published a story alleging that the intelligence community provided documents to the president-elect last week that included information that quote, ‘Russian operatives claimed to have compromising personal and financial information about Mr. Trump.’ These documents also allegedly say quote, ‘There was a continuing exchange of information during the campaign between Trump's surrogates and intermediaries for the Russian government.

Now, again, I'm telling you this as it's coming out, so you know. But if it's true, it's obviously extremely serious and if there is any evidence that anyone affiliated with the Trump campaign communicated with the Russian government in the course of this campaign, what will you do?

Sessions: Senator Franken, I'm not aware of any of those activities. I have been called a surrogate at a time or two in that campaign and I didn't have — did not have communications with the Russians, and I'm unable to comment on it.

We will leave it to others to figure out whether Sessions' answer constitutes perjury. But the answer is a great demonstration of what to do - and what NOT to do - whenever you are answering a question under oath:

Listen closely to the question, and answer only that question, and no more.

Franken asked Sessions what he would do as Attorney General if it turned out to be true that anyone affiliated with the Trump campaign had communicated with the Trump campaign. The right answer would be to discuss what he would do as Attorney General. He should have said he would recuse himself, or at least something like, "investigate to the fullest extent possible to get to the truth of the matter."

But instead of answering the actual question, Sessions blurted out a personal denial, which now appears to be, at the least, questionable. 

By failing to listen to the question closely and answering only that question, Sessions is now in deep water. Anyone facing a deposition should take this lesson to heart.

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