Washington: US President Donald Trump has defended Attorney General Jeff Sessions as “an honest man” amid calls for him to quit over his newly-disclosed contacts with the Russian Ambassador to Washington.
Trump on Thursday said Sessions did not make any misleading statements under oath during his confirmation hearings, but that he could have been more accurate in his responses to lawmakers, CNN reported.
“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,” Trump said.
“This whole narrative is a way of saving face for Democrats losing an election that everyone thought they were supposed to win. The Democrats are overplaying their hand. They lost the election and now, they have lost their grip on reality…It is a total witch hunt!”
Earlier Thursday, Sessions bowed to intense political pressure and recused himself from any probe into charges that Russia meddled in the 2016 presidential election.
He made the remarks following Justice Department officials claiming on Wednesday that Sessions spoke to Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak twice last year, the encounters which he did not disclose during his Congressional confirmation hearing to become the Attorney General in January.
“They (Justice Department) said that since I had involvement with the campaign, I should not be involved in any campaign investigation,” Sessions said, adding that he concurred with their assessment and would thus recuse himself from any existing or future investigation involving Trump’s 2016 campaign.
Later Thursday night, Sessions told Fox News that he plans to submit a “supplement” to the record of his Congressional testimony, detailing the meetings he did not mention at the time.
“My response went to the question indicated about the continuing surrogate relationship that I firmly denied and correctly denied, and I did not mention in that time that I had met the ambassador,” Sessions said.
“So I will definitely make that a part of the record as I think is appropriate.”
Sessions said his decision followed his promise to the Senate Judiciary Committee to avoid any semblance of a conflict of interest between his new role and previous position as a strong supporter of the Trump campaign.
Several Democratic members of the House of Representatives called for Sessions to resign.
Meanwhile, according to reports, two more members of Trump’s campaign team spoke to Kislyak during the Republican National Convention last July.
Retired US Navy officer Jeffrey D. Gordon and oil industry consultant Carter Page spoke with Kislyak in Cleveland, but the contents of their discussion remain unknown.
Gordon, who managed the advisory committee as the Trump campaign’s director of national security, said that while he also spoke with Kislyak in Cleveland, it was not unusual for a presidential campaign to interact with diplomats.
Page, also a member of the Trump campaign’s national security advisory committee, cited “confidentiality rules” in declining to say what he discussed with the ambassador.