Attorney Sessions Defends Statements On Trump Campaign's Russia Ties
WASHINGTON (Alliance News) - US Attorney General Jeff Sessions insisted Tuesday that he had always told the truth amid questions about his past remarks on contact between President Donald Trump's campaign and Russia.
"I will not accept and reject accusations that I have ever lied. That is a lie," Sessions told the House of Representatives' Judiciary Committee as he answered a range of questions about the Justice Department's work.
He said he had always answered lawmakers' questions as he understood them and noted the difficulty of recalling exact details of minor conversations conducted more than a year ago during the chaotic Trump campaign.
Democrats zeroed in on questions about Russia, after a former foreign policy adviser to the campaign, George Papadopoulos, pleaded guilty to lying about his contacts with Russia.
Court documents showed that Papadopoulos had attended a meeting with Trump, Sessions and other aides at which he claims to have mentioned the possibility of arranging a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
"These facts appear to contradict your sworn testimony on several occasions," Democratic lawmakers wrote to Sessions in a letter last week, outlining their concerns ahead of the hearing.
Sessions said he had not at first recalled a meeting at which Papadopoulos had suggested a meeting between Trump and Putin, but that his memory had been jogged by the indictment and news reports.
He said he had shot down the suggestion as inappropriate.
"I pushed back against his suggestion that I thought may have been improper," he said, adding later that he did not recall the reactions of others in the room.
He said he did not have further contact with Papadopoulos and so did not take additional steps to prevent any further contact with the Russians of which he was unaware.
He also said he could not recall a conversation with another aide, Carter Page, who reportedly told him of his own efforts to reach out to Russia.
Sessions has previously denied any knowledge that anyone from the campaign might have been in contact with the Russians. He has previously come under fire for failing to disclose his own meetings with the Russian ambassador.
Court documents unsealed last month said Papadopoulos met with a professor with ties to the Russian government about information that was supposedly damaging to Trump's Democratic rival Hillary Clinton.
The charge was among the first resulting from special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential elections. Sessions has recused himself from the investigation.
By Anne K Walters
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