US Attorney General Jeff Sessions has denied any wrongdoing in meeting with the Russian ambassador, saying the two brief encounters had nothing to do with the presidential campaign. He recused himself from any investigations into the campaign, however.
“Let me be clear: I never had meetings with Russian operatives or Russian intermediaries about the Trump campaign,” Sessions told reporters at the Department of Justice on Thursday afternoon.
During the confirmation hearings, Senator Al Franken (D-Minnesota) had asked about contacts between Donald Trump’s surrogates and Russian officials concerning the Republican candidate’s presidential campaign. Sessions, who served as senator from Alabama prior to taking over at the Department of Justice, was also one of the most high-profile Republicans to endorse Trump early on.
“My answer to Sen. Franken was honest and correct as I understood it at the time,” Sessions said, adding there was no discussion of the campaign in both of his brief meetings with Russian ambassador to the US, Sergey Kislyak.
Sessions had promised the Senate Judiciary Committee he would recuse himself from any probes into the Trump campaign, if they were to happen, and after consulting with the ethics staff at the DOJ, he decided to do just that.
“I have decided to recuse myself from any existing or future investigations of any matters related in any way to the campaigns for President of the United States,” Sessions said. “This announcement should not be interpreted as confirmation of the existence of any investigation or suggestive of the scope of any such investigation.”
“I should not be involved in investigating the campaign I had a role in,” he told reporters.