Jeff Sessions

The Latest: Democrat request for Sessions to testify denied

WASHINGTON/March 3, 3017 (AP)(STL.News) — The Latest on Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ talks with the Russian ambassador (all times local):

6:00 p.m.

The Republican chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee is rejecting a request from panel Democrats to have Attorney General Jeff Sessions testify and explain his contacts with the Russian ambassador.

Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa said late Friday that there is no plan for Sessions to come before the committee before his customary testimony at an annual oversight hearing.

Grassley said in a statement that Sessions did the right thing by recusing himself from any investigation into communications between President Donald Trump’s aides and Russian officials. The Republican lawmaker complained that Democrats “didn’t even have the decency to give him an opportunity to clear up confusion to the statement in writing.”


5:20 p.m.

All nine Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee are asking for Attorney General Jeff Sessions to testify before the panel to explain his failure to disclose his conversations with Russia’s envoy to the U.S.

In a letter to the committee’s Republican chairman, the Democrats said Friday that they welcomed Sessions’ decision to recuse himself from any probe that examines communications between President Donald Trump’s aides and Moscow. But they said significant questions remain unanswered.

The Democrats said Sessions’ responses during his confirmation hearing were “at best, incomplete and misleading” and he hadn’t come forward to correct the record before his contacts with the ambassador became public.

The lawmakers asked Chairman Chuck Grassley of Iowa to schedule a hearing with Sessions.


2:50 p.m.

Vice President Mike Pence says he did not know of Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ meeting with the Russian ambassador but dismissed the criticism of the top law enforcement official.

Speaking to reporters in Wisconsin, Pence said he and President Donald Trump have full confidence in Sessions. Pence called him a “man of intergrity.”

Pence says Sessions’ answer to the Senate Judiciary Committee while under oath was “clearly unintentional.”

Pence says Sessions could have answered the question more clearly. He says Sessions “corrected the record appropriately, and we’re just very confident in his ability to lead this agency and respect his decision to recuse himself.”


6:51 a.m.

Russia’s top diplomat says the uproar over U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ meetings with the Russian ambassador is a replay of McCarthyism.

Sessions recused himself Thursday from any probe that examines communications between President Donald Trump’s aides and Moscow following revelations that Sessions spoke twice with the Russian ambassador during the campaign and failed to say so to Congress.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov (SEHR’-gay LAHV’-rahf) says contacts with officials and lawmakers are part of any ambassador’s duties. He says the pressure on Sessions “strongly resembles a witch hunt or the times of McCarthyism, which we thought were long over in the United States as a civilized country.”

Senator Joseph McCarthy in the 1950s led a hunt for communist traitors he believed worked in the government and the army.


3:12 a.m.

The controversy over any Kremlin involvement in American politics isn’t fading away anytime soon.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions is now the second high-ranking member of the Trump administration to take a hit over conversations with Russia’s envoy to the U.S.

Sessions is recusing himself from any probe that examines communications between Trump aides and Moscow.

The recusal follows a chorus of demands that Sessions resolve the seeming contradiction between his two conversations with Moscow’s U.S. envoy and his statements to Congress in January that he had not communicated with Russians during the campaign.

It carries echoes of a similar controversy involving retired Gen. Michael Flynn, who two weeks ago resigned as national security adviser after misleading White House officials about his own discussions with the Russian official.