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AG Sessions recuses himself from Justice Department probe into Russian meddling

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Posted at 1:59 PM, Mar 02, 2017
and last updated 2017-03-02 17:30:28-05

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on Attorney General Jeff Sessions' talks with the Russian ambassador (all times local):

READColorado congressional representatives react to Sessions allegations

5:15 p.m.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions is sending a letter to a Senate panel to explain his testimony under oath following revelations he twice met with the Russian ambassador and didn't say so when pressed by lawmakers.

That's the word from Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, who says he has talked to Sessions.

Sessions said Thursday afternoon that he will recuse himself from an investigation into Russian meddling in the presidential election.

Grassley says he had asked Sessions to send the letter "so we can put this issue to bed once and for all."

House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi says Sessions' recusal isn't enough and has repeated an earlier call for his resignation.

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4:35 p.m.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions says he should not be involved in investigating a presidential campaign he had a role in.

Sessions made the comment at a Thursday news conference where he announced he will recuse himself from any investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. The move came after revelations that Sessions twice spoke to the Russia's ambassador to the U.S. during the presidential campaign.

Sessions rejected any suggestion that he tried to mislead anyone about his contacts with the Russian, saying, "That is not my intent. That is not correct."

But he says he "should have slowed down and said 'but I did meet with one Russian official a couple of times.' "

Acting Deputy Attorney General Dana Boente will handle any matters related to investigation.

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4:20 p.m.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions says he didn't lie when he testified during his confirmation hearing that he had no interaction with Russians during the 2016 election campaign.

At a news conference Thursday, he continued to draw a distinction between his conversations with the Russian ambassador in his role as a senator and his role in the Trump campaign.

Still, Sessions is recusing himself from a federal investigation into Russian interference in the election. He says he is doing so at the urging of senior career officials in the Justice Department.

Deputy Attorney General Dana Boente will handle any matters related to the investigation.

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4:10 p.m.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions says he will recuse himself from a federal investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 White House election.

Sessions faced mounting pressure from both Democrats and Republicans to step aside after revelations that he had twice talked with Moscow's U.S. envoy during the presidential campaign. Sessions' conversations with the ambassador seem to contradict his sworn statements to Congress during his confirmation hearings.

The Justice Department said there was nothing improper about the meetings. Sessions insisted he never met with Russian officials to discuss the campaign.

Sessions said this week he would recuse himself when appropriate.

When attorneys general have recused themselves in the past, investigations were handled by lower-ranking but still senior political-appointees within the Justice Department.

Sessions' statement, via the Justice Department, reads as follows:

“During the course of the confirmation proceedings on my nomination to be Attorney General, I advised the Senate Judiciary Committee that ‘[i]f a specific matter arose where I believed my impartiality might reasonably be questioned, I would consult with Department ethics officials regarding the most appropriate way to proceed.’

“During the course of the last several weeks, I have met with the relevant senior career Department officials to discuss whether I should recuse myself from any matters arising from the campaigns for President of the United States.

“Having concluded those meetings today, I have decided to recuse myself from any existing or future investigations of any matters related in any way to the campaigns for the President of the United States.

“I have taken no actions regarding any such matters, to the extent they exist.

“This announcement should not be interpreted as confirmation of the existence of any investigation or suggestive of the scope of any such investigation.”

Sessions said that U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, Dane Boente, will act as attorney general for any investigations into Russian contacts during the election.

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