(ZHE) Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced he is recusing himself from investigations into Russian interference in American politics and contacts with associates of President Donald Trump, after the DOJ acknowledged he had contacts with the Russian ambassador during the 2016 campaign.
“I have recused myself in the matters that deal with the Trump campaign,” he said at a press conference. Sessions had come under mounting bipartisan pressure to recuse himself after it was revealed late Wednesday that he spoke twice with the Russian envoy last year and failed to tell senators during his confirmation hearing.
Key Republicans, including House Oversight Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) and former Oversight Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) as well as three GOP senators, called on Sessions to step aside.
And huge amounts of Democrats also called for his recusal, with many — led by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) — calling for him to resign from the Justice Department completely.
Trump earlier Thursday expressed “total” confidence in Sessions, dismissing calls for him to recuse himself.
The move comes after the Justice Department confirmed Wednesday that Sessions spoke twice last year with Ambassador Sergey Kislyak while serving as a prominent supporter and adviser to Trump’s presidential campaign. Sessions testified during his Senate confirmation hearing Jan. 10 that “I did not have communications with the Russians.”
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