Critics of Attorney General Jeff Sessions have called for him to resign after former FBI Director James Comey privately corroborated media reports that the Department of Justice chief may have had a third point of contact with Russian officials during the 2016 presidential race.
On June 8, Comey testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee as a part of its investigation into the Russian government's role in the 2016 election. During his remarks, the former FBI director signaled that he knew of classified information that had prompted Sessions to recuse himself from the federal probe into Russia.
Comey stated that the Bureau viewed Sessions' recusal as inevitable after they became "aware of facts that I can't discuss in an open setting, that would make (Sessions') continued engagement in a Russia-related investigation problematic."
Following the public hearing, Comey reportedly told members of the SIC during a private meeting that the federal probe into Russia potentially found a third undisclosed meeting between Sessions and Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak.
On Jan. 10, Sessions asserted during his confirmation hearing that he was not aware of any members of President Donald Trump's campaign communicating with Russian officials during the 2016 election.
"I have been called a surrogate at a time or two in that campaign and I did not have communications with the Russians," Sessions said.
On March 1, it was disclosed that Sessions had met with Kislyak in July and September 2016, contradicting his statement made under oath, The Washington Post reports.
The third undisclosed meeting between Sessions and Kislyak allegedly occurred on April 27, 2016, at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, D.C.
While Comey reportedly confirmed that the FBI had evidence of the encounter, he did not disclose that information during his public testimony.
The House Minority Leader, Democratic Rep. Nancy Pelosi of California, called for Sessions to resign if the third meeting is verified.
"Now I can't... confirm or deny the issue of the third meeting," Pelosi told MSNBC. "But I did say on March 2 that he should resign -- Sessions should resign as attorney general."
On March 2, Pelosi called for Sessions to resign in light of the first two undisclosed contacts with Kislyak.
"Now, after lying under oath to Congress about his own communications with the Russians, the attorney general must resign," Pelosi said at the time.
On June 9, Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut asserted that Sessions' contacts with Kislyak were similar to the undisclosed communications between former White House national security adviser retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn and adviser Jared Kushner.
"I can't confirm what may have been provided in a classified setting, but with a third meeting, even without it, what we have is a pattern of contacts with the Russians by Flynn, by Sessions, by Kushner -- secret and then concealed," Blumenthal told CNN.
DOJ spokesperson Sarah Isgur Flores released a statement denying that Sessions met with Kislyak a third time.
"The facts haven't changed; the then-senator did not have any private or side conversations with any Russian officials at the Mayflower Hotel," Flores said.
On June 13, Sessions is scheduled to testify over the DOJ budget before the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice and Science, USA Today reports.