US Attorney General Jeff Sessions failed to disclose that he spoke with the Russian ambassador twice last year, with the revelation coming hours after a lawmaker said allegations of collusion between the Trump campaign and Moscow would be investigated.
Sessions did not disclose the meetings when he was asked about contacts between members of President Donald Trump’s campaign and Russia during his confirmation hearing to become attorney general, the Washington Post reported citing Justice Department officials.
At his confirmation hearing in January, Sessions was asked what he would do if he learned if anyone part of the Trump campaign had communicated with the Russian government during the 2016 campaign, the Post reported.
“I’m not aware of any of those activities,” he said. “I have been called a surrogate at a time or two in that campaign and I did not have communications with the Russians,” he added.
A spokeswoman for Sessions said the answer was not misleading as the then-senator had had conversations with over 25 foreign ambassadors as a member of the Armed Services Committee, the Post reported.
Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi was quick to call for his resignation.
“Jeff Sessions lied under oath during his confirmation hearing before the Senate … Sessions is not fit to serve as the top law enforcement officer of our country and must resign,” she said in a statement.
“If it’s true that Sessions failed to disclose his meeting with (Russian ambassador) Kislyak, he must recuse himself. This is not even a close call; it is a must,” US Representative Adam Schiff wrote on Twitter.
Hours earlier, Schiff had said the House Intelligence Committee would investigate allegations of collusion between Trump’s election campaign and Russia.
Schiff, ranking minority member of the House Intelligence Committee, said Democrats and Republicans had reached a written agreement late Wednesday.
“We are committed to doing it,” he said. “There is every reason to do a thorough investigation here.”
Schiff announced the probe on Twitter, saying both parties were “now committed to investigate all aspects of Russian active measures including any collusion with Trump campaign.”
In an interview with MSNBC he declined to provide any details about what evidence the committee had gathered, but said the first testimony was coming “fairly imminently.”
Reports in US media last month alleged that Trump campaign staff, including former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, had had “repeated contacts” with senior Russian intelligence officials during the year before Trump’s surprise election victory.
Last month, US National Security Advisor Michael Flynn resigned over misleading accounts he gave about phone calls with Russian officials.