President Donald Trump told reporters on Thursday that he had “total” confidence in Attorney General Jeff Sessions amid calls from some lawmakers that Sessions recuse himself or even resign from the Justice Department.
It was reported Wednesday night that Sessions met with a Russian diplomat during the 2016 campaign, a meeting confirmed by a Sessions spokesperson as something done in his capacity as a senator at the time.
Sessions previously told fellow senators during his confirmation hearings that he had never communicated with the Russians during the 2016 campaign.
Asked Thursday afternoon if he had “confidence” in Sessions, President Trump responded, “Total.” When pressed on whether Sessions should recuse himself from an investigation into the Trump administration’s Russian ties, the president said, “I don’t think so.”
While allowing that he had “been called a surrogate at a time or two in that campaign,” Sessions stated during the hearings in January that he “did not have communications with the Russians, and I’m unable to comment” on reports that alleged contact between Trump campaign officials and the Kremlin.
Sessions Spokeswoman Sarah Isgur Flores said in a statement Wednesday night that “there was absolutely nothing misleading about his answer” because Sessions was asked about “communications between Russia and the Trump campaign” and not about meetings he took as a senator with the Armed Services Committee.
The White House blamed “partisan Democrats” and Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., for pushing the story, which has sparked calls for recusal and even resignation from some members of Congress.
White House Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders echoed Flores in saying that Session met with Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak “in an official capacity as member of the Senate Armed Services Committee” and called the meeting “entire consistent with his testimony.”