US lawmakers to press Attorney General Sessions on Russia contacts

US lawmakers to press Attorney General Sessions on Russia contacts

Prosecutors accused Manafort in court documents unsealed Monday of "together with others, knowingly and intentionally conspir [ing] to defraud the United States by impeding, impairing, obstructing and defeating the lawful governmental functions of a government agency, namely the Department of Justice and the Department of the Treasury".

But public calls by leading Democrats for Sessions to quit mostly ceased after Mueller's appointment to look into Russia's meddling in the presidential election and whether the campaign assisted - though there are exceptions, including the Congressional Black Caucus, which voted to call on Sessions to resign in July just as the Washington Post reported that Kislyak said he and Sessions had discussed campaign-related matters.

The Democrats will be questioning Sessions about his statements regarding contacts between President Donald Trump's 2016 election campaign and the Russian government. Removing Sessions, who has recused himself from authority over Mueller's investigation, could give Trump the opportunity to appoint a new attorney general who is not recused, and therefore could impede the investigation.

"The interviews will ideally be completed by Thanksgiving, or shortly thereafter", said White House special counsel Ty Cobb in an interview with NPR.

At his January confirmation hearing, Sessions told Sen. He responded, "I did not - and I'm not aware of anyone else that did".

But that narrative has been challenged by a pair of recent events, most notably a guilty plea from George Papadopoulos, who last month admitted in court to lying to the FBI about his own foreign contacts.

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"The investigators now know what Papadopoulos was doing on the Russian front, which he initially tried to conceal, and who he told that to", said the other source. He was part of a foreign policy council that Sessions chaired, and the two are among the men in a March 2016 photograph that Trump posted on social media.

"Democratic folks do not want to make common cause with those on the far-right who want to do damage to the special counsel", said Norm Eisen, the White House ethics czar under former President Barack Obama.

Pelosi's office did not respond to multiple requests for comment asking if she still believed Sessions should go.

In addition, recently revealed emails showed that Carter Page, another campaign foreign policy advisor, also sought to arrange to Trump trip to Moscow and indicated to top campaign officials that he had contacts with Russian legislators and senior members of President Vladimir Putin's administration.

Democratic members of the House Judiciary Committee advised Sessions in a letter last week that they intended to press him on what they said were "inconsistencies" between the attorney general's past statements and the new revelations.

Peter Carr, a spokesman for Mueller, declined to comment. He said he mentioned in passing to Sessions that he was preparing to visit Russia and Sessions "had no reaction whatsoever".