White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer gave full backing to Attorney General Jeff Sessions Thursday amid criticism over the former senator’s newly revealed conversations with the Russian ambassador, telling Fox News he was “100 percent straight” about his actions.
Several Democrats are seeking Sessions’ resignation, claiming he misled Congress by testifying in his confirmation hearing that he had no “communications” with Russia.
But Spicer, speaking with “Fox & Friends'” Abby Huntsman, backed Sessions’ claims that he met with the diplomat in his capacity as a member of the Armed Services Committee — and suggested there was no intent to mislead Congress.
“Well I think Senator Sessions did his job. He was asked very pointedly whether or not there had been any contact with the Trump campaign in the capacity of him being a surrogate. There was not. He was 100 percent straight with the committee.”
The Washington Post first reported that Sessions spoke twice last year with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, despite Sessions’ testimony.
Other lawmakers, including Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, have said Sessions should recuse himself from the investigation into Russian influence in the election.
One discussion Sessions had with the ambassador, in July, was described as involving a group of ambassadors after a Heritage Foundation event on the sidelines of the Republican National Convention. Kislyak was part of a “small group” of diplomats who approached Sessions and spoke with him.
A subsequent meeting was held in September in the senator’s office. Justice Department officials said Sessions met with ambassadors in his capacity as a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, not as part of the campaign.
As for his testimony, the White House says that he was answering questions specifically about Trump campaign officials contacting Russians as part of the campaign.
“The testimony and the question he was asked was whether or not he was aware of Trump campaign officials doing something in their capacity as campaign officials and information he had gotten passed,” Spicer said. “That answer is consistently no. He made a statement that was 100 percent accurate and he stands by that.”
Spicer went on to accuse those calling on Sessions to recuse himself or resign of playing politics.
“I think the people choosing to play partisan politics with this should be ashamed of themselves,” he said.