The nature of the chase: Let's start with a clear-cut fact:
Last September, Jeff Sessions, then a United States senator, did in fact have a meeting with Sergey Kislyak, the rotund Russkie ambassador.
On March 2, the Washington Post described this event, which plainly was a meeting. The Post's 1645-word news report started off like this:
ENTOUS, NAKASHIMA AND MILLER (3/2/17): Then-Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) spoke twice last year with Russia's ambassador to the United States, Justice Department officials said, encounters he did not disclose when asked about possible contacts between members of President Trump's campaign and representatives of Moscow during Sessions's confirmation hearing to become attorney general.Last September, Sessions and Kislyak met in Sessions' office. No one denies that this event occurred. By the rules of conventional English, it plainly was a "meeting."
One of the meetings was a private conversation between Sessions and Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak that took place in September in the senator's office, at the height of what U.S. intelligence officials say was a Russian cyber campaign to upend the U.S. presidential race.
The previously undisclosed discussions could fuel new congressional calls for the appointment of a special counsel to investigate Russia's alleged role in the 2016 presidential election. As attorney general, Sessions oversees the Justice Department and the FBI, which have been leading investigations into Russian meddling and any links to Trump's associates. He has so far resisted calls to recuse himself.
When Sessions spoke with Kislyak in July and September, the senator was a senior member of the influential Armed Services Committee as well as one of Trump's top foreign policy advisers. Sessions played a prominent role supporting Trump on the stump after formally joining the campaign in February 2016.
That said, you'll note that Entous, Nakashima and Miller seemed to say, in that report, that Sessions had had two meetings with Kislyak last year.
In paragraph 2, they described the September meeting—an actual, unambiguous "meeting" which plainly did occur. Later, they seemed to refer to an earlier "meeting," one held back in July.
At this point, things became rather fuzzy in this Post report. We'll suggest this might help you see what can happen, within our upper-end press corps, when a chase is on.
Wow! Did Sessions have two meetings with Kislyak last year? Curiously, you had to read deep into this lengthy report to encounter a description of that first "meeting," the one which occurred in July.
All the way down in paragraphs 32 and 33 [sic], the reporters finally described that earlier meeting. In our view, you should be wary of anything you're ever told by people who perform this way, especially when a chase is on:
ENTOUS, NAKASHIMA AND MILLER: Two months before the September meeting, Sessions attended a Heritage Foundation event in July on the sidelines of the Republican National Convention that was attended by about 50 ambassadors. When the event was over, a small group of ambassadors approached Sessions as he was leaving the podium, and Kislyak was among them, the Justice Department official said.You had to read to paragraph 32 (sic) to encounter that account. You'll note that this account was attributed to a single anonymous source, who was describing something he'd been told by another unnamed person.
Sessions then spoke individually to some of the ambassadors, including Kislyak, the official said. In the informal exchanges, the ambassadors expressed appreciation for his remarks and some of them invited him to events they were sponsoring, said the official, citing a former Sessions staffer who was at the event.
On its face, that account was barely coherent. Beyond that, it was hardly clear that a "meeting" was being described.
Let's start with the coherence factor. According to that account, did Sessions deliver some sort of speech at this event? That seems to be what the reporters said, but their account wasn't entirely clear.
Our second question is philosophical. Ignoring the murkiness of their account, did the reporters, in that account, actually describe a "meeting?"
Person X delivers "remarks" at a public event. After his remarks are done, Persons A, B, C and D approach him and "express appreciation for his remarks."
In that situation, has Person X "had a meeting" with each of those additional people? Plainly, the answer is this:
Yes! Person X has had a "meeting" with each of those people—if a chase is on.
We revisit this point for a reason. In the last few days, this particular chase has been expanded. Excited hustlers on "cable news" are now excitedly claiming and/or suggesting that Sessions may have had three "meetings" with Kislyak last year.
Lawrence was frothing and foaming last night behind this renewed excitement. We'll remind you that Lawrence isn't hugely reliable when a chase is on.
(To his credit, NBC's Ken Dilanian corrected some of Lawrence's overstatements last night. As usual, the laziest of all cable networks hasn't produced transcripts yet.)
Did that initial Post report really describe two "meetings?" In our view, the description of that July event was extremely shaky. Beyond that, we'd have to say it was a stretch to call that event a "meeting."
That said, a major chase is on, and people are very excited. Among other things, a chase of this type is very good for business. eyeball attraction-wise.
As citizens, we each get to decide how much we want to be conned by people of this slippery, excitable type. That said, they've performed these excited group cons in the past, frequently to ill effect. People are dead all over the world because they play it this way.
Lawrence at prayer: Lawrence has been praying for a third "meeting." To watch last night's segment, you can just click here.