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Story highlights

Attorney general spoke twice with the Russian ambassador to US

Conversations were during campaign season last year

(CNN) —  

Yet another official in the Trump administration is raising eyebrows over interactions with Russia during campaign season last year.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions spoke twice with the Russian ambassador to the US, the Justice Department said Thursday, adding to the suspicion over Russia’s ties to the current administration.

During his confirmation hearings in January, Sessions, however, did not mention his conversations with Sergey Kislyak.

At the time of the hearings, some Americans considered Russia an antagonist because of numerous reports of its interference in the US election. Here’s how Sessions answered questions during his confirmation hearings on interacting with Russian officials:

——————————

SEN. AL FRANKEN: “If there was any evidence that anyone affiliated with the Trump campaign communicated with the Russian government in the course of this (2016) campaign, what would you do?,” the Minnesota Democrat asked.

SESSIONS: “I’m not aware of any of those activities. I have been called a surrogate at a time or two in that campaign and I did not have communications with the Russians.”

DATE: January 10

————————–


SEN. PATRICK J. LEAHY: Several of the President-elect’s nominees or senior advisers have Russian ties. Have you been in contact with anyone connected to any part of the Russian government about the 2016 election, either before or after election day?” the Vermont Democrat asked in a questionnaire.

SESSIONS: No.

DATE: January 10

—————————

Sessions was a senator and a top Trump surrogate when he met the ambassador twice – in July on the sidelines of the Republican National Convention and in September when he was a member of the Senate armed services committee.

In a statement Thursday, he said reports that he met Russian officials are false.

“I never met with any Russian officials to discuss issues of the campaign. I have no idea what this allegation is about,” he said.

US intelligence officials consider Kislyak a top spy and spy recruiter, according to current and former senior US government officials. Russia’s foreign affairs ministry denied the characterization.

Kislyak is the same man who met Trump’s former national security adviser, Mike Flynn, before the President took office. Flynn resigned from his post after 23 days over his communications with Russia.