U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, when asked on Thursday about his participation in any investigation into possible ties between Russia and the Trump presidential campaign, said he would recuse himself when "appropriate," NBC News reported.
"Whenever it’s appropriate I will recuse myself, there’s no doubt about that," Sessions told the network, after saying: "I have not met with any Russians at any time to discuss any political campaign."
U.S. House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi called on Sessions to resign on Wednesday after the Washington Post reported he failed to disclose two meetings he had with Russia's ambassador before Donald Trump was inaugurated as president.
One of the meetings was a private conversation between Sessions and Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak that took place in September in the senator's office, at the height of what U.S. intelligence officials say was a Russian cyber campaign to upend the U.S. presidential race, the Post reported.
U.S Attorney General Jeff Sessions arrives to attend a speech by President Donald Trump at a joint session of Congress in Washington, February 28. Carlos Barria/Reuters
The previously undisclosed discussions could fuel new congressional calls for the appointment of a special counsel to investigate Russia's alleged role in the 2016 presidential election, the Post said.
As attorney general, Sessions oversees the Justice Department, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation, which have been leading investigations into Russian meddling and any links to Trump's associates. Sessions has so far resisted calls to recuse himself.
When Sessions spoke with Kislyak in July and September, he was a senior member of the influential Senate Armed Services Committee as well as one of Trump’s top foreign policy advisers, according to the Post.
Sessions played a prominent role supporting Trump after formally joining the campaign in February 2016.
At his Jan. 10 Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing, Sessions was asked by Democratic Senator Al Franken what he would do if he learned of any evidence that anyone affiliated with the Trump campaign communicated with the Russian government in the course of the 2016 campaign, the Post reported.
"I’m not aware of any of those activities," Sessions responded, according to the Post. He added: "I have been called a surrogate at a time or two in that campaign and I did not have communications with the Russians."
Officials said Sessions did not consider the conversations relevant to the lawmakers’ questions and did not remember in detail what he discussed with Kislyak, according to the Post.
"There was absolutely nothing misleading about his answer," Sarah Isgur Flores, Sessions' spokeswoman, told the Post.
Pelosi called for Sessions to resign and for an independent, bipartisan investigation into Trump's possible ties to Russians.
"Sessions is not fit to serve as the top law enforcement officer of our country and must resign," she said in a statement.Try Newsweek: Subscription offers