- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 1, 2017

Two Democratic senators privately asked the FBI to investigate Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ contacts with Russian officials after it was revealed that he had failed to disclose prior discussions with the Russian ambassador.

Sens. Patrick Leahy and Al Franken on Thursday released letters they wrote to then-FBI Director James Comey in March, asking that the bureau to investigate all meetings Mr. Sessions or his staff had with Russian officials and whether “any laws were broken in the course of the contacts or in any subsequent discussion of whether they occurred.”

The disclosures come as reports emerged that congressional investigators were seeking additional information to determine whether Mr. Sessions had a third undisclosed meeting with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak.

CNN reported late Wednesday that investigators on Capitol Hill are trying to determine whether Mr. Sessions and Mr. Kislyak met during an April 27, 2016, event at the Mayflower Hotel in D.C., where then-presidential candidate Donald Trump gave his first major foreign policy address.

The attorney general was asked earlier this year about any meetings with Russian officials during Senate confirmation hearings for his job as the country’s top law enforcement officer, but said at the time that he had no contacts with Russians during the course of Mr. Trump’s campaign.



The Washington Post later reported that Mr. Session had met with Mr. Kislyak. But the Justice Department later characterized the meetings as unrelated to any of Mr. Sessions’ activity with the Trump campaign — with officials saying Mr. Sessions met Mr. Kislyak at his Senate office in his capacity as a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee and that a second meeting after a Heritage Foundation speech occurred in a group setting with other ambassadors.

Mr. Leahy and Mr. Franken cited a third possible meeting at the Mayflower event in their letter to the FBI as evidence the bureau needed to get to the bottom of any additional interactions.

“The attorney general never fully explained or even acknowledged the misrepresentations in his testimony, and we remained concerned that he had still not been forthcoming about the extent of his contacts with Russian officials,” the senators said in a joint statement issued Thursday.

Justice Department spokeswoman Sarah Isgur-Flores said Thursday that Mr. Sessions, then a senator, “did not have any private or side conversations with any Russian officials at the Mayflower Hotel.”

“The facts haven’t changed,” she said.

The Center for the National Interest, which had hosted the Mayflower event, issued a statement describing the reception that Mr. Sessions attended in March, when the roster of those in attendance came to light.

“We are not aware of any conversation between Ambassador Kislyak and Senator Jeff Sessions at the reception. However, in a small group setting like this one, we consider it unlikely that anyone could have engaged in a meaningful private conversation without drawing attention from others present,” the statement read.

In the time since the Justice Department confirmed the two meetings with the Russian ambassador, Mr. Sessions opted to recuse himself from the ongoing investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

The responsibility was passed to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who last month appointed former FBI Director Robert Mueller to take over the probe as an independent special counsel.

“We will allow him to do his job,” Ms. Flores said of the special counsel. “It is unfortunate that anonymous sources whose credibility will never face public scrutiny are continuously trying to hinder that process by peddling false stories to the mainstream media.”

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