Attorney General Jeff Sessions insisted Thursday that he did not lie about his interactions with a Russian ambassador, giving a fairly detailed rundown of parts of their conversation while also maintaining he doesn’t really remember the meeting. Sessions also recused himself from any investigations into the Trump campaign, saying he had planned to do so anyway because he had stumped for Trump during the election and not because of the growing scandal he was forced to hold a press conference to address.
“I should not be involved in investigating a campaign I had a role in,” Sessions said in explanation, a surprising turnaround given that Trump and White House press secretary Sean Spicer went on the record Thursday saying Sessions had nothing to recuse himself from.
Sessions reportedly met with Sergey Kislyak, the Russian ambassador, at least twice during the campaign. He declined to mention those meetings during his confirmation hearing when Senator Al Franken asked him, under oath, if he knew of any contact between Russia and the Trump campaign.
“My reply to Senator Franken was honest and correct as I understood it at the time,” Sessions said.
He also went into detail on the meeting, which he said occurred after Kislyak sent an aide to his office to ask for a meeting. Sessions says they discussed a 1991 church trip he took to Russia and the status of Ukraine.
“Most of these ambassadors are pretty gossipy,” Sessions said.
In his official statement, he said, “This announcement should not be interpreted as confirmation of the existence of any investigation or suggestive of the scope of any such investigation,” before misspelling Acting Deputy Attorney General Dana Boente’s name.