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Jeff Sessions, Donald Trump’s embattled attorney general, said on Thursday that he will recuse himself from any existing or future investigations involving the US presidential campaign, amid controversy over his failure to disclose meetings with the Russian ambassador.
Mr Sessions, the top law-enforcement official and a former senator, has come under intense fire after it was reported that he did not reveal during his confirmation hearings that he twice met Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak while acting as a close advisor to President Donald Trump during last year’s campaign.
Senior Republicans said on Thursday that Mr Sessions should recuse himself from investigations into whether Russia interfered in the US election after the reports emerged. Mr Trump told reporters that he had “total” confidence in his attorney general. Some top Democrats have called for Mr Sessions’ resignation.
Mr Trump has denied any links between his campaign aides and Russia. But the issue has already triggered multiple inquiries and forced the resignation of Mr Trump’s national security advisor, Michael Flynn, who made similar contradictory statements about his contacts with the Russian ambassador.
Mr Sessions said during a press conference on Thursday that he never had meetings with “Russian operatives or intermediaries about the campaign”. Nevertheless, he said he would recuse himself after soliciting advice from his staff.
Mr Sessions said in a written statement:
“During the course of the last several weeks, I have met with the relevant senior career department officials to discuss whether I should recuse myself from any matter arising from the campaigns for president of the United States.
Having concluded those meetings today, I have decided to recuse myself from any existing or future investigations of any matters related in any way to the campaigns for president of the United States.
I have taken no actions regarding any such matters, to the extent they exist.
This announcement should not be interpreted as confirmation of the existence of any investigation or suggestive of the scope of any such investigation.”