Democrats call for Trump's attorney general to resign

US media reports that Jeff Sessions spoke with the Russian ambassador to the US twice during the presidential campaign

Democrats call for Trump's attorney general to resign

Jeff Sessions. Picture by Carolyn Kaster AP/Press Association Images

Democratic politicians in the US have called on Donald Trump's attorney general to resign after reports that he met with Russia's ambassador to Washington during last year's presidential campaign.

The Washington Post reported that Jeff Sessions spoke with Sergey Kislyak twice last year, including a 'private conversation' at the then-senator's office in September.

In a statement quoted by US media, Mr Sessions insisted he "never met with any Russian officials to discuss issues of the campaign".

He added: "I have no idea what this allegation is about. It is false."

Mr Sessions was a key early supporter of Donald Trump, and was also a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee at the time.

During the attorney general confirmation hearing in January, Senator Al Franken of Minnesota asked Mr Sessions what he would do if there was evidence that anyone from the Trump campaign was in touch with Russia.

Mr Sessions said he was "unaware of those activities," and added: "I have been called a surrogate at a time or two in that campaign and I didn't have, did not have communications with the Russians, and I'm unable to comment on it."

Justice Department spokeswoman Sarah Isgur Flores said: "There was absolutely nothing misleading about his answer."

According to the department, Mr Sessions had meetings last year with more than 25 foreign ambassadors in his role as a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, and had two separate interactions with the Russian ambassador.

The Washington Post reports that it heard from 20 of the 26 members of the committee, all of whom said they did not meet with Mr Kislyak in 2016.

Calls for resignation

Senator Chuck Schumer is the latest figure to call for Sessions' resignation.

"It would be of Alice & Wonderland quality if this administration were to sanction him to investigate himself," he said, referring into investigations into Russia's alleged interference with the presidential election.

"Attorney General Sessions had weeks to correct the record that he made before the judiciary committee, but he let the record stand."

Democratic house minority leader Nancy Pelosi accused Mr Sessions of having 'lied under oath'.

In a statement, she said: "Under penalty of perjury, he told the Senate Judiciary Committee, ‘I have been called a surrogate at a time or two in that campaign and I did not have communications with the Russians.’ We now know that statement is false.

"Attorney General Sessions has never had the credibility to oversee the FBI investigation of senior Trump officials’ ties to the Russians. That is why Democrats have consistently called for Sessions to recuse himself from any oversight of the investigation.

"Now, after lying under oath to Congress about his own communications with the Russians, the Attorney General must resign. Sessions is not fit to serve as the top law enforcement officer of our country and must resign."

She added there must be an 'independent, bipartisan, outside' commission to investigate any links between the Trump team and Russia.

Senator Elizabeth Warren, meanwhile, said Mr Sessions "should never have been confirmed in the first place":

Last month, President Trump's national security adviser Michael Flynn resigned after claims he misled the Trump administration over his talks with Russia.

Additional reporting by IRN