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Trump Defends Jeff Sessions as Republicans Turn on the White House

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Yuri Gripas  Reuters

An investigation of ties between Donald Trump's White House and Russian Federation would have no credibility if Attorney General Jeff Sessions were permitted to lead it. "I don't think so", said Trump.

That said, in this particular case the recusal is warranted specifically because it does involve the Trump campaign, for which Sessions by his own admission served as a "surrogate".

Democrats went further, demanding that the attorney general resign and that a special prosecutor be appointed to probe the administration's Russian Federation links. The Federal Bureau of Investigation works under Sessions' Department of Justice.

He had faced calls to resign altogether after some Democrats accused him of lying about meetings with Moscow representatives when he was quizzed on the issue during his Senate confirmation hearing in January. News reports in the wake of the Sessions revelation positioned him as a top Russian intelligence operative, known for his knack for recruiting spies.

"It's really common for members of Congress to meet with ambassadors", Ryan confirmed.

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Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said Mr Sessions had misled Congress over his contacts with the ambassador and should resign for the good of the country, adding it would be like "Alice in Wonderland" if the administration was to approve Mr Sessions' investigating himself.

Trump has denied multiple reports that people connected to his campaign had connections with members of the Russian government during the election season.

Then-Sen. Sessions, R -Alabama, called on then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch to recuse herself from the investigation into Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server after she spoke with Bill Clinton on an Arizona airport tarmac.

Sessions: "Senator Franken, I'm not aware of any of those activities".

"I don't recall any specific political discussions", he said.

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The scandal has rekindled questions about allegations of Trump associates' contact with Russian Federation before his inauguration on January 20. Sessions replied that he had not had communications with the Russians, and answered "no" in a separate written questionnaire when asked about contacts regarding the election. "I asked for their candid and honest opinion about what I should do about investigations, certain investigations".

"I appreciate a lawyerly reading in the Justice Department of all places, but I - that strikes me as maybe a little too far". That is not my intent.

The Washington Post revealed for the first time that Sessions met Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak in July and September, just as accusations of Russian interference in the election were mounting. "Ever. Ambassadors call members of Foreign Rel Com".

However, a tweet from 2013 seems to refute that claim.

In 2015, when Kislyak invited a group of Washington-based journalists, including one from The Associated Press, to the Russian Embassy for tea, he used the meeting to push warmer relations between the two nations, despite the conflict over Russia's seizure of Crimea and the crisis in Ukraine. "Upset about the arbitrary/cruel decision to end all U.S. adoptions, even those in process", McCaskill tweeted.

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Sessions said he would establish a violent crime task force, underscoring an early focus on drug and violent crime that is a radical departure for a Justice Department that has viewed as more urgent the prevention of cyberattacks from foreign criminals, global bribery and the threat of homegrown violent extremism.

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