United States President Donald Trump’s Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Thursday said he was recusing himself from all investigations related to Russian involvement in the 2016 presidential elections. His decision came a day after the Washington Post reported that Sessions, who was Trump’s campaign aide, had held meetings with Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak twice last year.
Sessions, who was the US Senator at that time, had received Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak in his senate office in September 2016. In another instance, he had a meeting with Kislyak at a Heritage Foundation event in July 2016 during the Republican National Convetion, the Washington Post said.
However, Sessions maintained that he had met the Russian ambassador in his capacity as the US senator and not as Trump’s campaign aide, reported Reuters. “I have recused myself in the matters that deal with the Trump campaign,” Sessions said at a news conference on Thursday.
He denied all allegations suggesting he had tried to mislead anyone about his contacts with the Russian official. However, he said he should have been more careful in his testimony during his confirmation hearing in January. “But I did meet one Russian official a couple of times,” he said according to AP.
Trump however said he had “total confidence” in Sessions and did not think it was necessary for the Attorney General to recuse himself from the investigation. “I don’t think he should do that at all,” Trump said at an event abroad a Navy aircraft carrier in Virginia, adding that he was not aware of Sessions’ contacts, reported Bloomberg.
Sessions, who heads the Justice Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation as the Attorney General, will not be briefed on the details of the probe related to Russian involvement anymore. If the FBI decides to move forward with the charges, Sessions will have no say in whether the Department of Justice should take the case or not, Reuters reported.
On January 10, at his confirmation hearing, Sessions was asked what he would do if he learned that anyone affiliated with the Trump campaign communicated with the Russian government during the presidential campaign. Sessions responded by saying he was not aware of any such activity. “I have been called a surrogate at a time or two in that campaign and I did not have communications with the Russians,” he said according to AP.
On February 13, Trump’s national Security Adviser Michael Flynn had resigned after reports emerged that he had discussed the country’s sanctions with Russia.