Trump stands by Sessions as Democrats seek resignation over Russia revelation

| Updated: Mar 03, 2017 07:57 IST

New York [USA], Mar. 3 (ANI): U.S. President Donald Trump on Thursday said he has "total" confidence in Attorney General Jeff Sessions following accusations that he misled Congress by failing to disclose pre-election meetings with the Russian ambassador to Washington Sergey Kislyak, according to CNN. Following the accusations Democrats have called for Sessions' to resign. It has emerged that Sessions spoke twice with the Russian ambassador to the United States during former's presidential campaign, according to CNN. Sessions did not mention either meeting, during his confirmation hearings when he said he knew of no contacts between Trump surrogates and Russians. A Justice official said Sessions didn't mislead senators during his confirmation. Kislyak is considered to be one of Russia's top spies and spy-recruiters in Washington by the U.S. intelligence. Sessions met with Kislyak twice in Washington, in July on the sidelines of the Republican convention, and in September in his office when Sessions was a member of the Senate Armed Services committee. Sessions was an early Trump backer and regular surrogate for him as a candidate. Sessions, a former senator from Alabama, who was among Trump's early and most vocal surrogates on the campaign trail, did not disclose the conversations when asked during his Senate confirmation hearing in early 2017 about possible contacts between Trump's campaign and Moscow. Several Republicans have called on Sessions to rescue himself from any involvement in an FBI probe into ties between the Trump campaign and Moscow. According to CNN, when asked by reporters traveling with the President in Virginia if Sessions should recuse himself, the President said. "I don't think so." Meanwhile, House Speaker Paul Ryan said Sessions should recuse himself only if he was part of the focus of an ongoing probe. "If he, himself, is the subject of an investigation, of course he would," Ryan told reporters Thursday. "But if he's not, I don't see any purpose or reason to doing this." Earlier, Russian links had forces former national security adviser Michael Flynn to resign . Flynn had initially denied discussing sanctions with the Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak during the transition. Vice-President Pence also defended him in front of the media. But later when reports suggested that sanctions may indeed have been discussed, he conceded that he could not remember with 100 percent certainty. Sessions, however, drew a distinction between his role as a Trump surrogate and his duties as a Senator and he strongly denied ever discussing campaign-related issues with anyone from Russia. "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," he said in a statement. Sessions' spokeswoman Sarah Isgur Flores said there was nothing "misleading about his answer" to Congress because 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." "Last year, the senator had over 25 conversations with foreign ambassadors as a senior member of the Armed Services Committee, including the British, Korean, Japanese, Polish, Indian, Chinese, Canadian, Australian, German and Russian ambassadors," Isgur Flores said in the statement. A White House official said: "This is the latest attack against the Trump Administration by partisan Democrats. (Attorney) General Sessions met with the ambassador in an official capacity as a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, which is entirely consistent with his testimony." White House spokesman Sean Spicer said meanwhile that Sessions had nothing to apologize for, signaling an effort by the administration to stand firmly behind the Attorney General. (ANI)
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