As Democrats and the media call for Attorney General Jeff Sessions to resign or recuse himself from some Justice Department investigations, a top-ranking Democratic senator defended him upon allegations that he met with a Russian envoy during the 2016 campaign season.
West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin defied the party and said it is not unusual for senators to meet with ambassadors.
“I’ve met with the Russian ambassador with group in my capacity, with a group of other senators; yes, that happens,” he told CNN. “We meet with all the ambassadors, or try to, anyway, to build the relationships that you can have some dialogue … we can basically talk and have some type of interactions back and forth and know where in the world people are coming from. So, that’s not unusual.”
The Washington Post reported late Wednesday that Sessions met twice with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak last year — once at a Heritage Foundation event at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland and again in his Senate office in September. Sessions denied twice during his Senate confirmation hearing that he met with anyone connected to the Russian government, but a spokeswoman said the questions were in the context of the Trump campaign.
Sessions, himself, told an MSNBC reporter Thursday that he never discussed the presidential race with Kislyak.
“Well, I have not met with any Russians at any time to discuss any political campaign,” he said,. “And those remarks are unbelievable to me, and false. And I don’t have anything else to say about that.”
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