Jeff Sessions met with Russian ambassador during US elections: Report
Donald Trump's attorney general met with the Russian ambassador at the height of the US presidential campaign when Moscow was allegedly hacking the emails of the Republican candidate's Democratic opponents, the Washington Post has reported.
Jeff Sessions, then a senator, met Ambassador Sergei Kislyak last September at a time when the US accused Moscow of hacking the Democratic National Committee’s emails, the Post reported.
During his Senate confirmation hearing as attorney general, then-senator Sessions told lawmakers that he did not have communications with Russian officials regarding the 2016 elections. But the Washington Post on Wednesday cited Department of Justice officials as saying that Sessions was in contact with Russia’s ambassador last year.
The revelation comes weeks after Michael Flynn stepped down as Trump’s national security adviser for discussing US sanctions on Russia while President Barack Obama was still in office. Flynn did not disclose his phone conversations with Kislyak to then Vice President-elect Mike Pence in December.
The attorney general oversees the Department of Justice and the FBI, which is conducting an investigation into Russia’s cyber attacks to influence American elections.
Democrats and civil rights groups criticised Sessions before his confirmation over longstanding allegations of racism. Muslim groups and religious and ethnic minorities have expressed fear that Sessions may scale down the Justice Department's civil rights division, which enforces federal laws that prohibit discrimination.
Sessions was an early backer of Trump during the Republican presidential primary. He spoke at his rallies and formally joined the campaign in February of last year.
At his 10 January Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing, Sessions was asked how he would handle evidence pointing to communication between Trump campaign officials and the Russian government during the election.
"I’m not aware of any of those activities," Sessions responded. "I have been called a surrogate at a time or two in that campaign and I did not have communications with the Russians."
However, Sessions' office is not admitting any wrongdoing.
"There was absolutely nothing misleading about his answer," Sarah Isgur Flores, Sessions' spokeswoman, told the Post.