EXECUTIVE

Sessions provides details on meetings with Russian ambassador

Attorney General Jeff Sessions Thursday offered details of his meetings with the Russian ambassador last year after failing to disclose them at his confirmation hearing, triggering Democratic calls for his resignation.

Sessions' hastily-called press conference, at which he announced he would recuse himself from any probes into campaign issues, followed a Washington Post report that he met in July and September 2016 with the Russian Ambassador to the U.S.

He did not disclose either of those contacts during his confirmation hearings.

When asked during the hearings about Trump campaign officials possibly having communications with Russian officials during the campaign, Sessions denied he had any meetings.

On Thursday, he said he had not misled the committee.

“At the time [his statement] was honest and correct as I understood,” said Sessions, who argued he was acting in his capacity as a senator at the September meeting with Russian ambassador Sergey I. Kislyak in his Senate office.

Asked about his September meeting, the attorney general said Kislyak sent a staffer who asked for a meeting, which was then arranged. As far as what was discussed, Sessions did not remember much, except a mention of a trip he took to Russia in 1991 as part of a church group. 

The conversation, he said, touched on such issues as terrorism and the Ukraine, whose ambassador had visited his office the previous day, but they discussed nothing related to the campaign.

Sessions noted their interaction grew testy when the issue of Ukraine was discussed and that Kislyak extended an offer to meet for lunch at a later date but the meeting never occurred.

The former Alabama senator and member of the Senate Armed Services Committee joked that “most of these ambassadors are pretty gossipy” and that he did not recall any other “particularly political discussions” with Kislyak.