Sessions spoke with Russian ambassador twice, despite denials: reports
- Created on 02 March 2017
U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions had contacts with Russia’s ambassador to the U.S. during Donald Trump’s presidential campaign despite earlier denials, according to news reports Wednesday night. Before his confirmation, Sessions told senators he had no conversations with anyone in the Russian government about the 2016 election, either before or after Trump’s November victory.
The Washington Post said Sessions, then a senator and foreign-policy adviser to Trump’s campaign, spoke twice with Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, with one of those conversations coming in September, at the peak of Russia’s cyber-campaign to influence the U.S. election, according to Justice Department officials.
The Wall Street Journal separately reported that federal investigators have examined possible contacts between Sessions and Russian officials, though the status of the investigations was unclear. The Journal reported Sessions spokeswoman Sarah Flores acknowledged he had spoken to Kislyak during the Republican National Convention last summer as well as a “short and informal” conversation in September.
“Last year, the senator had over 25 conversations with foreign ambassadors as a senior member of the Armed Services Committee, including the British, Korean, Japanese, Polish, Indian, Chinese, Canadian, Australian, German and Russian ambassadors,” Flores said in a statement.
Flores denied Sessions had misled senators. While the contacts may have contradicted Sessions’ testimony, experts said perjury charges would be unlikely unless it could be proven Sessions had spoken to the Russian ambassador about the election while acting as a campaign adviser, as opposed to his role as a senator.
Sessions issued a statement late Wednesday, saying: “I never met with any Russian officials to discuss issues of the campaign. I have no idea what this allegation is about. It is false.”
Disclosure of the Russian contacts are likely to fuel louder calls by Democrats and some Republican lawmakers that Sessions should recuse himself in favor of a special counsel to investigate Russia’s attempts to meddle in the election.
Separately, the New York Times reported Wednesday night that members of the Obama administration left information about Russia’s efforts to undermine the election around the government — for example, asking and answering specific questions during intelligence briefings knowing they would be archived as part of the official record — in an attempt to leave a trail for future investigators that could not be erased.
The Times report also said British and Dutch intelligence provided information about clandestine meetings between Russian officials and members of the Trump campaign.
POST YOUR OPINION BELOW: