Attorney General Jeff Sessions spoke with the Russian ambassador to the U.S. twice during the presidential campaign season, according to the Justice Department.
The conversations prompted him to recuse himself from a Justice Department investigation into Russian interference in the election, the Associated Press reported on Wednesday night.
However, when asked at his confirmation hearing in January if asked what he would do if “anyone affiliated” with the campaign had been in contact with the Russian government, he said he’d not communicated with them.
“There was absolutely nothing misleading about his answer,” Justice Department spokesperson Sarah Isgur Flores said Wednesday. But Democrats weren’t satisfied and accused him of lying under oath.
The Washington Post was the first to report that one of the meetings was a private conversation between Sessions and Sergey Kislyak, which took place in the senator’s office last September.
The discussions could fuel new congressional calls for the appointment of a special counsel to investigate Russia’s alleged role in the 2016 presidential election and the suspected hacking campaign, according to the Post.
“I never met with any Russian officials to discuss issues of the campaign. I have no idea what this allegation is about. It is false,” Sessions said in a statement Wednesday night, but the revelations still have members of Congress to demand that Sessions back out of any involvement in the FBI’s probe.
“If reports are accurate that Attorney General Sessions — a prominent surrogate for Donald Trump — met with Ambassador Kislyak during the campaign, and failed to disclose this fact during his confirmation, it is essential that he recuse himself from any role in the investigation of Trump campaign ties to the Russians,” said Rep. Adam Schiff of California, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, according to the AP.
“This is not even a close call; it is a must,” he said.
Sessions was a strong supporter of Trump from the early days his presidential campaign and a policy adviser to the Republican candidate.