A Boston-area attorney filed a complaint Thursday with the Alabama Bar Association against U.S. Attorney Jeff Sessions, alleging the former Alabama senator violated the Bar’s code of conduct by engaging in “unethical and criminal conduct” during his confirmation hearing.
J. Whitfield Larrabee, the lawyer who filed the complaint, is claiming that Sessions violated several provisions of the Bar’s rules of professional conduct when he told the Senate Judiciary Committee in January that he “had no contact with the Russians.” Larrabee is asking the association to investigate his claims because Sessions is an attorney licensed in Alabama.
A spokeswoman for the Bar association said she could not confirm that the organization received the complaint because filings are confidential. Larrabee, who filed complaints with federal prosecutors in New York and Florida alleging bribery, fraud and conspiracy against then-presidential candidate Donald Trump and Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, provided AL.com with his complaint against Sessions.
Penalties for being found in violation of the code of conduct range from probation to disbarment. Larrabee said he hoped his complaint would lead to Sessions’ disbarment, although it’s unclear whether having his law license revoked would disqualify him from being attorney general.
“My concern is I’m an attorney, I’m a citizen, and I’m concerned it’s pretty clear he hasn’t testified truthfully to the United States Senate,” Larrabee, who practices civil rights and trial law, said in a phone interview. “I’d like him to be subject to appropriate discipline.”
Sessions recused himself last week from any investigations involving communication between the Donald Trump campaign and the Russians after it was revealed that he met twice with Russian ambassador to the United States Sergey Kislyak during the campaign. The attorney general denied any impropriety, maintaining he met with Kislyak in his capacity as a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee. Sessions was the first sitting senator to endorse Trump and headed the then-candidate’s national security advisory committee.
In his complaint, Larrabee claimed Sessions violated “adversely on the lawyer’s honesty, trustworthiness or fitness as a lawyer in other respects,” engaged “in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation” and “conduct that is prejudicial to the administration of justice.”
“Sessions violated other provisions of the Alabama Rules of Professional Conduct by giving false testimony to a legislative body, by failing to take reasonable and appropriate measures to remedy this misconduct, by affirmatively acting to cover up and conceal his misconduct, and by failing to avoid conflicts of interest in his activities as a lawyer and public official,” the complaint states.
Larrabee also claimed that Sessions engaged “in a cover-up of his criminal, dishonest and unethical conduct” because he said through a spokeswoman “there was absolutely nothing misleading about his answer” to the Judiciary Committee about his contact with Russian officials.
“Because Sessions’ testimony denying that he had communications with the Russians was false and misleading, it was dishonest for him to allow [spokeswoman Sarah Isgur] Flores to speak on his behalf and to assert that ‘there was absolutely nothing misleading about his answer,'” Larrabee went on to say.
When reached for comment, Flores pointed to the letter Sessions’ wrote earlier this week to the Judiciary Committee, where he said his answer was “correct” because it was in the context of communications between the Trump campaign and associates of the Russian government.