Grassley denies calls for Sessions to testify on Russian ambassador meetings

What Sessions said about Russian contact
What Sessions said about Russian contact

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Story highlights

  • Sessions has come under fire this week after news broke that he met Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak twice last year
  • The attorney general also said he would supplement his congressional testimony to reflect that he met with the Russian ambassador

(CNN)Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley on Friday denied calls by his Democratic colleagues to bring Attorney General Jeff Sessions before the panel in the coming days to testify about his meetings with the Russian ambassador.

But that doesn't mean Sessions isn't going to provide a response to the Democratic lawmakers' questions about the meetings, which they outlined in a letter to Grassley on Friday calling for a hearing.
In response, Justice Department spokesman Peter Carr said, "In light of the letter received from Senators late this afternoon, the Attorney General will respond to their questions along with his amended testimony on Monday."
Earlier Friday, the Democratic members of the Judiciary Committee, including ranking member Dianne Feinstein, requested Grassley call Sessions before the panel, saying a written submission from the attorney general to correct the record would not be sufficient.
"The Attorney General's responses to our questions during his confirmation process were, at best, incomplete and misleading," the senators wrote in the letter. "Unfortunately, he has not explained why he failed to come forward and correct the record before reports of his contacts with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak became public, why there was a delay in recusing himself until those public disclosures, and why he only recused himself with respect to campaign-related investigations and not Russian contacts with the Trump transition team and administration."
The statement by Grassley's office said Sessions would not be asked to testify before the committee ahead of "an annual oversight hearing, as is customary."
Sessions has come under fire this week after news broke that he met Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak twice last year but did not mention either meeting during his confirmation hearings when asked about contacts between Trump surrogates and Russians.
CNN reported Thursday that when Sessions was a senator and a top Trump surrogate, he met the ambassador on the sidelines of the Republican National Convention in July and again in September when he was a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee.
Facing pressure from Democrats and some Republicans in Congress to step aside from any investigation of any contacts between Trump's 2016 presidential campaign and officials known to US intelligence, Sessions announced Thursday that he would recuse himself.
"Attorney General Sessions did the right thing by recusing himself, and he did exactly what he said he'd do regarding potential recusals when he was before our committee," Grassley said in a statement Friday, referring to Sessions' testimony at his confirmation hearing in January. "It's unfortunate that the Democrats didn't even have the decency to give him an opportunity to clear up confusion to the statement in writing."
Sessions said this week that he met with the Russian ambassador in his capacity as a member of the Armed Services Committee, not as a surrogate for the Trump campaign, and that was why he didn't mention the meetings when asked the question about any Trump campaign contacts with Russians.
As referenced by the Justice Department spokesman, the former Alabama senator also said Thursday that he would be sending a "supplement" to the record of his congressional testimony reflecting that he did meet with Kisylak.
Since the reports about Sessions' meetings with ambassador came to light, several Democrats, including House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, have called on Sessions to resign. Democrats have also said Sessions' decision to recuse himself from any investigation of reported contacts between the Trump campaign and Russian officials does not go far enough, and they are calling for a special prosecutor to investigate the matter.