U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions says during his January 10 confirmation hearing ''I did not have communications with the Russians'' when asked about the Trump campaign's contacts with Russia. Rough Cut (no reporter narration).
ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION) Attorney General of the United States Jeff Sessions is under fire on Thursday (March 2) after the Washington Post reported he failed to disclose two meetings he had with Russia's ambassador before Donald Trump was inaugurated as president. Citing Justice Department officials, the Post said Sessions spoke twice last year with Russia's ambassador while he was still a U.S. senator. He failed to disclose the encounters when asked during his confirmation hearing to become attorney general about possible contacts between Trump's campaign and Russian officials, the newspaper said. The Washington Post said one of Sessions' meetings was a private conversation with Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak that took place in the senator's office in September. This came at the height of what U.S. intelligence officials say was a Russian cyber campaign to upend the U.S. presidential race, the Post reported. When Sessions spoke with Kislyak in July and September, he was a senior member of the influential Senate Armed Services Committee as well as one of Trump's top foreign policy advisers, according to the Post. Sessions played a prominent role supporting Trump after formally joining the campaign in February 2016. At his Jan. 10 Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing, Sessions was asked by Democratic Senator Al Franken what he would do if he learned of any evidence that anyone affiliated with the Trump campaign communicated with the Russian government in the course of the 2016 campaign, the Post reported. "I'm not aware of any of those activities," Sessions responded, according to the Post. He added: "I have been called a surrogate at a time or two in that campaign and I did not have communications with the Russians." Officials said Sessions did not consider the conversations relevant to the lawmakers' questions and did not remember in detail what he discussed with Kislyak, according to the Post.