Jeff Sessions had two meetings with the Russian ambassador during the presidential campaign, despite saying under oath in his Attorney General confirmation hearing he "did not have communication with the Russians".
Mr Sessions, an early Donald Trump supporter, is said to have met with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak once in September 2016, coinciding with US intelligence officials investigating Russian interference in the presidential election, and once in summer of that year.
The Alabama Attorney General, a policy advisor to the Republican candidate who was considered a possible Vice Presidential nominee, failed to disclose those communications at his confirmation hearing in January after being pressed about what he would do if “anyone affiliated” with the campaign had been in contact with the Russian government.
During the hearing, Senator Al Franken drew Mr Sessions’ attention to a report alleging there was a continued exchange of information during the campaign between “Trump’s surrogates and intermediaries for the Russian government.”
“If there is any evidence that anyone affiliated with the Trump campaign communicated with the Russian government in the course of this campaign, what will you do?” Senator Franken asked him.
“Senator Franken, I’m not aware of any of those activities. I have been called a surrogate at a time or two during that campaign and I did not have communications with the Russians and I’m unable to comment on it," Mr Sessions replied.
The controversial orders Donald Trump has already issued
The controversial orders Donald Trump has already issued
1/9 Trump and the media
White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer takes questions during the daily press briefing
2/9 Trump and the Trans-Pacific Partnership
Union leaders applaud US President Donald Trump for signing an executive order withdrawing the US from the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations during a meeting in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington DC. Mr Trump issued a presidential memorandum in January announcing that the US would withdraw from the trade deal
3/9 Trump and the Mexico wall
A US Border Patrol vehicle sits waiting for illegal immigrants at a fence opening near the US-Mexico border near McAllen, Texas. The number of incoming immigrants has surged ahead of the upcoming Presidential inauguration of Donald Trump, who has pledged to build a wall along the US-Mexico border. A signature campaign promise, Mr Trump outlined his intention to build a border wall on the US-Mexico border days after taking office
4/9 Trump and abortion
US President Donald Trump signs an executive order as Chief of Staff Reince Priebus looks on in the Oval Office of the White House. Mr Trump reinstated a ban on American financial aide being granted to non-governmental organizations that provide abortion counseling, provide abortion referrals, or advocate for abortion access outside of the United States
5/9 Trump and the Dakota Access pipeline
Opponents of the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines hold a rally as they protest US President Donald Trump's executive orders advancing their construction, at Columbus Circle in New York. US President Donald Trump signed executive orders reviving the construction of two controversial oil pipelines, but said the projects would be subject to renegotiation
6/9 Trump and 'Obamacare'
Nancy Pelosi who is the minority leader of the House of Representatives speaks beside House Democrats at an event to protect the Affordable Care Act in Los Angeles, California. US President Donald Trump's effort to make good on his campaign promise to repeal and replace the healthcare law failed when Republicans failed to get enough votes. Mr Trump has promised to revisit the matter
7/9 Donald Trump and 'sanctuary cities'
US President Donald Trump signed an executive order in January threatening to pull funding for so-called "sanctuary cities" if they do not comply with federal immigration law
8/9 Trump and the travel ban
US President Donald Trump has attempted twice to restrict travel into the United States from several predominantly Muslim countries. The first attempt, in February, was met with swift opposition from protesters who flocked to airports around the country. That travel ban was later blocked by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. The second ban was blocked by a federal judge a day before it was scheduled to be implemented in mid-March
SANDY HUFFAKER/AFP/Getty Images
9/9 Trump and climate change
US President Donald Trump sought to dismantle several of his predecessor's actions on climate change in March. His order instructed the Environmental Protection Agency to reevaluate the Clean Power Plan, which would cap power plant emissions
“Very well,” Senator Franken, a Democrat Minnesota senator and former Saturday Night Live comedian, replied.
Democratic House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, a California Democrat, accused Mr Sessions of “lying under oath” and called for him to resign. Members of congress have called for the Attorney General to recuse himself from any involvement in the FBI’s probe.
On Wednesday night, Justice Department spokeswoman Sarah Isgur Flores said there “there was absolutely nothing misleading about his answer.”
In a statement on Wednesday night, Mr 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.”
The Washington Post, citing justice department officials, first reported that Mr Sessions, met with Mr Kislyak – the same Russian ambassador who Michael Flynn’s communication with led to his sacking in February.Reuse content