WATCH: Jeff Sessions recuses himself from Russia investigation
Attorney General Jeff Sessions says he will recuse himself from a federal investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 White House election.
Democrats and Republicans have called for Sessions to recuse himself from the DOJ’s investigation of Russia’s involvement in the 2016 elections, after reports Wednesday indicated Session had twice met with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak in 2016, while serving as a senator and also an adviser to President Donald Trump’s campaign. Sessions’ conversations with the ambassador seem to contradict his sworn statements to Congress during his confirmation hearings.
At a news conference Thursday, Sessions says he should not be involved in investigating a presidential campaign he had a role in.
Sessions told reporters he didn’t lie when he testified during his confirmation hearing that he had no interaction with Russians during the 2016 election campaign.He rejected any suggestion that he tried to mislead anyone about his contacts with the Russian, saying, “That is not my intent. That is not correct.”
But he says he “should have slowed down and said ‘but I did meet with one Russian official a couple of times.'” Sessions continued to draw a distinction between his conversations with the Russian ambassador in his role as a senator and his role in the Trump campaign.
Acting Deputy Attorney General Dana Boente will handle any matters related to investigation.
The Justice Department said there was nothing improper about the meetings. Sessions insisted he never met with Russian officials to discuss the campaign.
President Donald Trump told reporters Thursday aboard the USS Gerald Ford — before Sessions’ news conference — that he didn’t think Sessions needed to recuse himself. House Speaker Paul Ryan said in a news conference earlier in the day that Sessions should recuse himself only if he is the subject of a DOJ investigation.
Congress has been “presented with no evidence that anyone on the Trump campaign or an American was involved in colluding with the Russians,” Ryan said.