Republican committee chairman says Jeff Sessions should recuse himself

A Republican committee chairman says Attorney General Jeff Sessions should recuse himself from an investigation into Russian interference in the U.S. election.

Published: 02nd March 2017 08:14 PM  |   Last Updated: 02nd March 2017 08:14 PM   |  A+A-

Attorney General Jeff Sessions holds a meeting with the heads of federal law enforcement components at the Department of Justice in Washington. (File Photo | AP)

Attorney General Jeff Sessions holds a meeting with the heads of federal law enforcement components at the Department of Justice in Washington. (File Photo | AP)

By Associated Press

WASHINGTON: The Latest on Attorney General Jeff Sessions' talks with the Soviet ambassador (all times local):

9:15 a.m.

A Republican committee chairman says Attorney General Jeff Sessions should recuse himself from an investigation into Russian interference in the U.S. election.

Utah's Jason Chaffetz chairs the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. He tells MSNBC that Sessions "is going to need to recuse himself at this point."

The Justice Department has confirmed Sessions talked twice with Russia's ambassador to the United States during the presidential campaign, a seeming contradiction to sworn statements he gave to Congress.

Chaffetz told MSNBC that Sessions "should further clarify."

Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri called on Sessions to resign, and Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont said he should recuse himself.

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8:30 a.m.

A Democratic senator says Attorney General Jeff Sessions should step aside from any role in the Justice Department's investigation of Trump campaign ties to Russia.

Minnesota's Al Franken tells MSNBC's "Morning Joe" that Sessions' statements about his contacts with Moscow have been "contradictory."

At Session's confirmation hearing in January, Franken asked the then-Alabama senator what he would do if there was evidence that anyone from the Trump campaign had been in touch with the Russian government during the 2016 White House race.

Sessions replied he was "unaware of those activities." But the Justice Department has confirmed that Sessions had two conversations with Russia's ambassador to the United States.

Franken is calling for an "independent prosecutor" to investigate any links the Trump campaign may have had with the Russian government and says Sessions must "come forward with the truth."

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8:15 a.m.

A Kremlin spokesman says all the attention given to Jeff Sessions' meetings with Russia's U.S. ambassador during the U.S. presidential campaign last year could affect improved ties between the countries.

Sessions — who's now President Donald Trump's attorney general — was a senator and policy adviser to Trump's campaign at the time of the meetings with Ambassador Sergei Kislyak.

Dmitry Peskov is the spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin. Peskov tells reporters that he didn't know about the meetings. But he says it's normal for Russian diplomats to meet with U.S. lawmakers.

The White House says Sessions met with the diplomat in his capacity as a senator, rather than as a Trump campaign adviser.

Peskov is characterizing reaction to the news of the meetings as "an emotional atmosphere (that) leads to resistance to the idea of some kind of U.S.-Russia dialogue."

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7:10 a.m.

A White House spokeswoman is assailing reports that Attorney General Jeff Sessions twice talked to Russia's ambassador to the United States during last year's presidential campaign.

Sarah Huckabee Sanders called the reports "the latest attack against the Trump administration by partisan Democrats."

She says Sessions "met with the ambassador in an official capacity as a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, which is entirely consistent with his testimony" to the Senate Judiciary Committee at a confirmation hearing in January.

Referring to questions on this issue that Sen. Al Franken raised with Sessions at that hearing, she said, "It's no surprise Senator Al Franken is pushing this story immediately following President Trump's successful address to the nation."

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7:00 a.m.

A prominent Russian lawmaker close to the Kremlin is playing down the revelation that the Attorney General Jeff Sessions met twice with Russia's ambassador during the American presidential campaign.

The news that then-Sen. Jeff Sessions, who was a policy adviser to President Donald Trump's campaign, had discussions with Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak has added fuel to the controversy over whether Russia was improperly involved with Trump's campaign. It spurred calls in Congress for Sessions to recuse himself from an investigation into Russian interference in the U.S. election.

Alexei Pushkov, a member of Russia's upper house of parliament and former head of the lower chamber's foreign affairs committee, said Thursday on Twitter: "It turns out that almost the entire US elite has ties to Russia ... Paranoia knows no bounds."

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2:37 a.m.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions talked twice with Russia's ambassador to the United States during the presidential campaign season, communications that spurred calls in Congress for him to recuse himself from a Justice Department investigation into Russian interference in the U.S. election.

Sessions, an early supporter of President Donald Trump and a policy adviser to the Republican candidate, did not disclose those discussions at his confirmation hearing in January when asked what he would do if "anyone affiliated" with the campaign had been in contact with officials of the Russian government.

Sessions replied that he had not had communication with the Russians.

Justice Department spokeswoman Sarah Isgur Flores said Wednesday night that "there was absolutely nothing misleading about his answer."

Sessions said, "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."

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