Politics

Sessions Had Secret Meetings With Russian Ambassador

| by Jonathan Constante

Attorney General Jeff Sessions is in hot water after it was revealed that he failed to disclose two meetings he had with Russia's ambassador prior to President Donald Trump's inauguration.

According to Justice Department officials, Sessions met with Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak twice in 2016, and did not disclose the meetings when asked about any possible contact between the Trump campaign and Russia during his confirmation hearing to become attorney general, The Washington Post reported.

During his Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing on Jan. 10, Sessions was asked by Senator Al Franken what he would do if he discovered evidence of communication between the Trump campaign and the Russian government during the 2016 presidential election.

"I'm not aware of any of those activities," Sessions responded, according to The Washington Post. "I have been called a surrogate at a time or two in that campaign and I did not have communications with the Russians."

One of the meetings is said to have been a private conversation between Sessions and Kislyak that took place in the former senator's office as recent as September. U.S. intelligence officials said the meeting came at the height of a Russian cyber campaign to influence the 2016 presidential election.

Another meeting took place in July. Sessions was a senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee at the time, and one of Trump's top foreign policy advisers, according to the newspaper.

Director of Public Affairs at the Department of Justice and Sessions' spokesperson, Sarah Isgur Flores, posted a statement from Sessions on Twitter regarding the news: "I never met with any Russian officials to discuss issues of the campaign," the statement read. "I have no idea what this allegation is about. It is false."

According to officials, Sessions did not consider his conversations with the Russian ambassador to be relevant to the lawmakers' questions. He also did not remember in detail what he discussed with Kislyak.

"There was absolutely nothing misleading about his answer," Flores told The Washington Post. "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."

U.S. House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi is now calling for Sessions to resign and for an independent investigation into Trump's possible ties to Russia, Reuters reported.

"Sessions is not fit to serve as the top law enforcement officer of our country and must resign," Pelosi said in a statement.

Sources: The Washington Post, Reuters / Photo credit: U.S. Customs and Border Protection/Flickr

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