The Washington Post reported yesterday that Attorney General Jeff Sessions spoke twice with Russia's ambassador to the U.S. last year during the presidential campaign, while, then a senator, he was a supporter of and adviser to Donald Trump's campaign. Sessions didn't reveal the talks with the ambassador when he said under oath during his confirmation hearing in January that he hadn't had communication with the Russians. The report led to calls from Democratic members of Congress for Sessions to recuse himself from the Justice Department investigation into Russian interference in the election, and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi accused Sessions of "lying under oath" and demanded that he resign.
Sessions denied any wrongdoing, saying in a statement: "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." Justice Department spokeswoman Sarah Isgur Flores insisted that Sessions' response during the questioning hadn't been misleading. She said, "He was asked during the hearing about communications between Russia and the Trump campaign -- not about meetings he took as a senator and a member of the Armed Services Committee."
The Justice Department said one contact between Sessions and the Russian ambassador, Sergey Kislyak, took place in September in his capacity as a senator. The other communication was in a group setting after a Heritage Foundation speech Sessions gave during the summer when Kislyak and several other ambassadors approached Sessions as he was leaving the stage.
The news of the contacts came as it was also disclosed by three administration officials that White House lawyers have instructed aides to Trump to preserve materials that could be connected to the Russian interference probe.
House Speaker Paul Ryan spoke Thursday about reports that Attorney General Jeff Sessions made misleading remarks about Russia to senators during his confirmation hearings.