The Latest: Trump Spokeswoman Defends Sessions on Russia

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on Attorney General Jeff Sessions talks with Soviet ambassador (all times local):

7:10 a.m.

A White House spokeswoman is assailing reports that Attorney General Jeff Sessions twice talked to Russia’s ambassador to the United States during last year’s presidential campaign.

Sarah Huckabee Sanders called the reports “the latest attack against the Trump administration by partisan Democrats.”

She added, “General Sessions met with the ambassador in an official capacity as a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, which is entirely consistent with his testimony” to the Senate Judiciary Committee at a confirmation hearing in January.

Referring to questions on this issue that Sen. Al Franken raised with Sessions at that hearing, she said, “It’s no surprise Senator Al Franken is pushing this story immediately following President Trump’s successful address to the nation.”

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7:00 a.m.

A prominent Russian lawmaker close to the Kremlin is playing down the revelation that the Attorney General Jeff Sessions met twice with Russia’s ambassador during the American presidential campaign.

The news that then-Sen. Jeff Sessions, who was a policy adviser to President Donald Trump’s campaign, had discussions with Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak has added fuel to the controversy over whether Russia was improperly involved with Trump’s campaign. It spurred calls in Congress for Sessions to recuse himself from an investigation into Russian interference in the U.S. election.

Alexei Pushkov, a member of Russia’s upper house of parliament and former head of the lower chamber’s foreign affairs committee, said Thursday on Twitter: “It turns out that almost the entire US elite has ties to Russia … Paranoia knows no bounds.”

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2:37 a.m.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions talked twice with Russia’s ambassador to the United States during the presidential campaign season, communications that spurred calls in Congress for him to recuse himself from a Justice Department investigation into Russian interference in the U.S. election.

Sessions, an early supporter of President Donald Trump and a policy adviser to the Republican candidate, did not disclose those discussions at his confirmation hearing in January when asked what he would do if “anyone affiliated” with the campaign had been in contact with officials of the Russian government.

Sessions replied that he had not had communication with the Russians.

Justice Department spokeswoman Sarah Isgur Flores said Wednesday night that “there was absolutely nothing misleading about his answer.”

Sessions said, “I never met with any Russian officials to discuss issues of the campaign. I have no idea what this allegation is about. It is false.”

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