20:42 GMT01 October 2020
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    Amid accusations that Attorney General Jeff Sessions lied about discussions with the Russian ambassador to the US, the former senator said he would recuse himself from any potential probe now or in the future.

    "During the course of the last several weeks, I have met with the relevant senior career department officials to discuss whether I should recuse myself from any matters arising from the campaigns for President of the United States," Sessions said. "Having concluded those meetings today, I have decided to recuse myself from any existing or future investigations of any matters related in any way to the campaigns," he said.

    "The idea that I was part of a 'continuous exchange of information during the campaign between Trump surrogates and intermediaries for the Russian government' is totally false."

    Nevertheless, the recusal should not be misconstrued as validation of suspicions that there is an ongoing probe of links between the Trump campaign and Russian operatives, Sessions said.

    Senator Al Franken (D-Minn.) asked Sessions during a confirmation hearing whether he had spoken with Russian officials while serving as a surrogate for Trump's campaign. Sessions replied that there had been no such contact.

    Reports have since surfaced showing that on two occasions, Sessons interacted with Russian Ambassador to the US, Sergey Kislyak: once following a speech when more than 20 ambassadors swarmed Sessions, and another meeting between Kislyak and Sessions in the senator's office with two of his senior officials in attendance. 

    The attorney general kicked off a news conference on Thursday explicating that he had never met with Russian "operatives" or "intermediaries" on behalf of the Trump campaign. No evidence has been put forth showing that the conversation between Sessions and Kislyak were related to Trump's bid to become president. 

    "Last year, [Sessions] 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," spokeswoman Sarah Isgur Flores said Thursday. In response to accusations that Sessions had lied under oat, a federal felony, Flores commented, "He was asked during the hearing about communications between Russia and the Trump campaign — not about meeting she took as a senator and a member of the Armed Services Committee."

    During the September 8 discussion, they officials discussed terrorism and the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, Sessions said.


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