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US Attorney General Sessions recuses himself from Russia probe

Last updated on: March 03, 2017 11:56 IST

Embattled US Attorney General Jeff Sessions has recused himself from any investigation into his alleged links with the Russian officials during the 2016 presidential elections.

"I have decided to recuse myself from any existing or future investigations of any matters related in any way to the campaigns for President of the US," Sessions said in a statement.

His remarks came after President Donald Trump said that he had "total" confidence in Sessions and he should not recuse himself from the Russian probe. However, Sessions decided against Trump's wish.

"This announcement should not be interpreted as confirmation of the existence of any investigation or suggestive of the scope of any such investigation," Sessions
said.

"Consistent with the succession order for the Department of Justice, Acting Deputy Attorney General and US Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia Dane Boente shall act as and perform the functions of the Attorney General with respect to any matters from which I have recused myself to the extent they exist," he said.

Sessions said that during the course of the confirmation proceedings on his nomination to be the US Attorney General, he advised the Senate Judiciary Committee that "if a specific matter arose where I believed my impartiality might reasonably be questioned, I would consult with Department Ethics officials regarding the most appropriate way to proceed."

"During the course of the last several weeks, I have met with the relevant senior Career Department officials to discuss whether I should recuse myself from any matters arising from the campaigns for President of the US," Sessions said.

Meanwhile, US President Donald Trump on Thursday tweeted in support of Attorney General Sessions, saying that the latter was an honest man and had not said anything wrong.

Accusing the Democrats of creating the fuss around Jeff Sessions, Trump said the Democrats are overplaying their hand as they lost the elections and now they have lost their grip on reality.

"Jeff Sessions is an honest man. He did not say anything wrong. He could have stated his response more accurately, but it was clearly not intentional. This whole narrative is a way of saving face for Democrats losing an election that everyone thought they were supposed to win," Trump said in a series of tweets.

"The Democrats are overplaying their hand. They lost the election, and now they have lost their grip on reality."

Earlier in the day, CNN quoted Trump as saying that he has "total" confidence in Attorney General Jeff Sessions following accusations that he misled Congress by failing to disclose pre-election meetings with the Russian ambassador to Washington Sergey Kislyak. Following the accusations Democrats had called for Sessions to resign.

It had emerged that Sessions spoke twice with the Russian ambassador to the United States during former's presidential campaign.

Sessions did not mention either meeting during his confirmation hearings when he said he knew of no contacts between Trump surrogates and Russians. A Justice official said Sessions didn't mislead senators during his confirmation.

Sessions met with Kislyak twice in Washington, in July on the sidelines of the Republican convention, and in September in his office when Sessions was a member of the Senate Armed Services committee. Sessions was an early Trump backer and regular surrogate for him as a candidate.

Sessions, a former senator from Alabama, who was among Trump's early and most vocal surrogates on the campaign trail, did not disclose the conversations when asked during his Senate confirmation hearing in early 2017 about possible contacts between Trump's campaign and Moscow.

Several Republicans have called on Sessions to rescue himself from any involvement in an FBI probe into ties between the Trump campaign and Moscow.

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