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Top Trump Lawyer Under Fire Over Russia Contact

politics

Mar 02, 2017

 

Jeff Sessions is under pressure over reports he spoke with Russia's US ambassador twice during the election campaign.

Donald Trump's Attorney General is facing calls to resign after it emerged he spoke with the Russian ambassador to the US during the presidential campaign.

House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi made the call after the Washington Post said Jeff Sessions had two conversations with Sergei Kislyak.

Mr Sessions, who was an early supporter of President Trump and a policy adviser to the Republican candidate, did not disclose the communications when he was asked at his confirmation hearing whether "anyone affiliated" with the campaign had contact with Moscow.

"Now, after lying under oath to Congress about his own communications with the Russians, the Attorney General must resign," Ms Pelosi said.

"Sessions is not fit to serve as the top law enforcement officer of our country and must resign."

But Mr Sessions hit back, saying he "never met with any Russian officials to discuss issues of the campaign".

He added: "I have no idea what this allegation is about. It is false."

And Justice Department spokeswoman Sarah Isgur Flores said: "There was absolutely nothing misleading about his answer."

Mr Sessions had meetings last year with more than 25 foreign ambassadors in his role as a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, and had two separate interactions with the Russian ambassador, the department said.

One was an office visit in the autumn, and the other happened in a group setting following a speech Mr Sessions gave in the summer.

Reacting to the revelation, members of Congress have called on Mr Sessions to back out of any involvement in the FBI's investigation into Russian interference in the election.

"If reports are accurate that Attorney General Sessions - a prominent surrogate for Donald Trump - met with Ambassador Kislyak during the campaign, and failed to disclose this fact during his confirmation, it is essential that he recuse himself from any role in the investigation of Trump campaign ties to the Russians," said Representative Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee.

The disclosure could also fuel calls for the appointment of a special counsel to investigate Russia's alleged hacking in the US election.

At the confirmation hearing in January, Senator Al Franken of Minnesota asked Mr Sessions what he would do if there was evidence that anyone from the Trump campaign was in touch with Russia.

Mr. Sessions said he was "unaware of those activities," and added: "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."

Ms Flores, the Justice Department spokeswoman, said that response was not misleading.

"He was asked during the hearing about communications between Russia and the Trump campaign - not about meetings he took as a senator and a member of the Armed Services Committee," she said.


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