U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from investigations into alleged Russian interference in the presidential election on Thursday, a day after news reports revealed that he had not disclosed meetings he had with the Russian Ambassador during his confirmation hearing.
Sessions’ decision comes after a mounting number of bipartisan congressmen said that it was now inappropriate for him to investigate Russia’s involvement in the 2016 presidential election.
The Attorney General said he arrived at his decision based on the recommendation of his staff: “I believe those recommendations are right and just,” he said. “Therefore I have recused myself from matters with the Trump campaign.”
The Washington Post revealed Wednesday that Sessions had spoken with Sergey Kislyak, the Russian ambassador to the United States, on two separate occasions during the campaign. This news appeared to contradict assertions made by Sessions to the Senate Judiciary Committee twice during his confirmation process.
Despite stepping aside, Sessions also said that he did nothing wrong: “Let me be clear: I never had meetings with Russian operatives or Russian intermediaries about the Trump campaign, and the idea that I was part of a ‘continuing exchange of information during the campaign between Trump surrogates and intermediaries for the Russian government’ is totally false.”
Trump’s short presidency has been trailed since the start by questions about potential ties to Russia. His former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn resigned last month after it emerged that he had lied about numerous communications with Kislyak before and after the election.
Trump himself said Thursday he had “total” confidence in Sessions and did not think he needed to recuse himself. Sessions stepped aside hours later.