US attorney general discussed Trump campaign with Russian envoy, says report
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US attorney general discussed Trump campaign with Russian envoy, says report

Sergey Kislyak told his superiors in Moscow he talked about campaign-related matters and significant policy issues during two meetings with Sessions, according to current and former US intelligence officials.

world Updated: Jul 22, 2017 20:39 IST
Yashwant Raj
Yashwant Raj
Hindustan Times, Washington
US attorney general Jeff Sessions,Donald Trump,White House
US attorney general Jeff Sessions at the justice department in Washington on July 20, 2017.(Reuters)

US attorney general Jeff Sessions is reported to have discussed the 2016 presidential campaign with the Russian ambassador to the US, contrary to earlier assertions that he hadn’t.

Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak and Sessions had “substantive” discussions about the campaign and then Republican candidate Donald Trump’s views on key foreign policy matters, The Washington Post reported on Friday, citing American intelligence officials who had seen intercepts of the envoy’s communications to Moscow.

After first omitting to acknowledge meeting any Russian official at all, Sessions, who was the top foreign policy adviser to Trump, had gone on to say that though he did meet Kislyak three times in 2016, he never discussed the campaign or Russian efforts to influence the election outcome.

Sessions felt forced by the ensuing uproar to recuse himself from the Russia probe being run by the FBI, which reports to the justice department he heads.

But that didn’t go down too well with Trump, who took the unusual step of publicly upbraiding Sessions in an interview last week. And on Saturday, he slammed the new revelations for drawing upon “a new intelligence leak”, but he did not question the veracity of the information or defend his attorney general.

Trump might be saving himself for potential blowbacks from testimonies his son Donald Trump Jr and son-in-law Jared Kushner are scheduled to give in closed-door sessions on Capitol Hill. These will be the first by people from the president’s inner circle and will be monitored closely.

The justice department has pushed back against the new allegations, with a spokesperson saying in a statement to the Post, “I cannot comment on the reliability of what anonymous sources describe in a wholly uncorroborated intelligence intercept”.

in Sessions’ defence, the Russian envoy might have overstated his conversations or embellished them to either make himself look good with Moscow or confuse and mislead American intelligence, who he knew were monitoring his communications.

First Published: Jul 22, 2017 15:45 IST