Jeff Sessions: The moment Attorney General misled Congress under oath about Russia contacts

'I’m not aware of any of those activities,' says Alabama Attorney General

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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.

“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.