The Department of Justice blasted a report alleging the possibility of an undisclosed, private meeting between a Russian official and then-Sen. Jeff Sessions, with the DOJ outright denying on Wednesday night any secretive “or side conversations” occurred.
The pushback followed a CNN story claiming Sessions, now the attorney general, met with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak at a Trump campaign event at the Mayflower Hotel on April 27, 2016. The report, building on the storyline of possible Trump team collusion with Russia to influence the 2016 presidential election, is based on “a source with knowledge.” A meeting the same day between Sessions and Kislyak – and also featuring VIP organizers and other diplomats – was already known to have happened at the hotel, the site of a Trump foreign policy address. But the CNN report alleges investigators are trying to determine if a second, private meeting occurred between the two.
“It is unfortunate that anonymous sources whose credibility will never face public scrutiny are continuously trying to hinder that process by peddling false stories to the mainstream media,” a statement from DOJ spokesperson Sarah Isgur Flores said. “The facts haven't changed; the then-Senator did not have any private or side conversations with any Russian officials at the Mayflower Hotel.”
Sessions has come under fire for not disclosing during his confirmation hearing a meeting he had with Kislyak during the presidential campaign – a meeting Sessions says was related to Senate duties, not his role as a Trump surrogate. But in light of the firestorm, Sessions recused himself from overseeing the Justice Department’s investigation into alleged Russian election meddling.
“The Department of Justice appointed special counsel to assume responsibility for this matter,” Flores said in the statement, alluding to former FBI Director Robert Mueller. “We will allow him to do his job.”
Fox News’ John Roberts contributed to this report.