Washington, July 22 (IANS) Attorney General Jeff Sessions met with the Russian Ambassador to Washington Sergey Kislyak to discuss campaign-related matters and policy issues important to Moscow during the 2016 presidential election, according to US intelligence intercepts.
Ambassador Kislyak’s accounts of two conversations with Sessions, then a top foreign policy adviser to Republican candidate Donald Trump, were intercepted by US intelligence agencies, which monitor the communications of senior Russian officials both in Washington and in Russia.
One US official told The Washington Post that Sessions, who testified that he has no recollection of an April 2016 encounter, has provided “misleading” statements that are “contradicted by other evidence”.
A former official said that the intelligence indicates that Sessions and Kislyak had “substantive” discussions on matters including Trump’s positions on Russia-related issues and prospects for US-Russia relations in a Trump administration.
Sessions has said repeatedly that he never discussed campaign-related issues with Russian officials and that it was only in his capacity as a US senator that he met with Kislyak.
“I never had meetings with Russian operatives or Russian intermediaries about the Trump campaign,” Sessions had said in March when he announced that he would recuse himself from matters relating to the FBI probe of Russian interference in the election and any connections to the Trump campaign.
Justice Department spokeswoman Sarah Isgur Flores told CNN that she could not comment on the The Washington Post’s report.
“Obviously I cannot comment on the reliability of what anonymous sources describe in a wholly uncorroborated intelligence intercept that the Washington Post has not seen and that has not been provided to me,” she said.
“But the attorney general stands by his testimony from just last month before the Senate Intelligence Committee, when he specifically addressed this and said that he ‘never met with or had any conversations with any Russians or any foreign officials concerning any type of interference with any campaign or election’.”