WASHINGTON ― White House spokesman Sean Spicer on Thursday defended embattled Attorney General Jeff Sessions amid reports that Sessions misled senators about two meetings he had last year with Russia’s ambassador to the United States.
“There’s nothing to recuse himself [over], he was 100 percent straight with the committee, and I think people who are choosing to play partisan politics with this should be ashamed of themselves,” Spicer told Fox News Channel’s Abby Huntsman, in an interview scheduled to air Friday morning.
Spicer was responding to bipartisan demands from Congress that the attorney general recuse himself from any Justice Department investigations into ties between the Trump campaign and Russia, or Russian influence in last year’s presidential election.
Last month, during his Senate confirmation hearing, Sessions denied under oath that he had any “communications with the Russians” during the presidential campaign. A Washington Post report late Wednesday detailed two such meetings between Sessions and Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak ― one at an event in July, and another in Sessions’ Senate office in September.
Sessions insisted Thursday that he was acting in his capacity as a senator, and not as a Trump campaign surrogate and adviser, when he met with the Russian envoy. The White House has since told numerous news outlets that it only learned of these meetings Wednesday night, from The Washington Post.
By midday Thursday, a growing number of lawmakers in both parties were calling on Sessions to remove himself from any Russia investigations. Some Democrats suggested that Sessions had lied under oath to the Senate Judiciary Committee and demanded the attorney general resign.
Spicer’s insistence that there was “nothing” for Sessions to recuse himself over mirrors the White House spokesman’s previous comments suggesting there is nothing to investigate regarding Russia’s influence during the 2016 election.
“I think Russia’s involvement in campaign activity has been investigated up and down,” Spicer said at a daily press briefing earlier this week. “The question becomes, if there is nothing further to investigate, then what are you asking people to investigate?”