Russian envoy overheard saying he
discussed campaign with Sessions: Post
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[July 22, 2017]
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Russia's
ambassador to Washington was overheard by U.S. spy agencies telling his
bosses that he had discussed campaign-related matters, including issues
important to Moscow, with Jeff Sessions during the 2016 presidential
race, the Washington Post reported on Friday, citing current and former
A U.S. official confirmed to Reuters that Ambassador Sergei Kislyak's
accounts of two conversations with Sessions, then a U.S. senator and key
foreign policy adviser to Republican candidate Donald Trump, were
intercepted by U.S. intelligence agencies.
The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said there was
nothing automatically inappropriate about Sessions, then a U.S. senator
as well as a Trump supporter, discussing policy matters or even Trump's
thinking about them with a foreign diplomat.
"The question is whether he crossed the line and discussed classified
information or talked about deals like lifting sanctions if the Russians
were interested in investing in the U.S. or had dirt on Secretary
Clinton," said a second official familiar with the intercepts, who also
spoke on the condition of anonymity. "His memory is another matter."
Sessions at first failed to disclose his contacts with Kislyak and then
said the meetings were not about the Trump campaign.
As Attorney General, he recused himself in March from matters connected
to an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation into Russian
meddling in the 2016 election and any connections to the Trump campaign
following his admission that he had talked to the Russian envoy.
Sessions has denied discussing campaign issues with Russian officials
and has said that he only met Kislyak in his role of U.S. senator.
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Russia's Ambassador to the United States Sergei Kislyak arrives for
a Donald Trump for President campaign event at the Mayflower Hotel
in Washington, April 27, 2016. REUTERS/Jim Bourg/File Photo
The Post cited one U.S. official as saying that Sessions provided
“misleading” statements that are “contradicted by other evidence.”
The newspaper reported that a former official said that the
intelligence indicates that Sessions and Kislyak had “substantive”
discussions on matters including Trump’s positions on Russia-related
issues and prospects for U.S.-Russia relations in a Trump
The Washington Post cited a Justice Department spokeswoman, Sarah
Isgur Flores, as saying: “Obviously I cannot comment on the
reliability of what anonymous sources describe in a wholly
uncorroborated intelligence intercept that the Washington Post has
not seen and that has not been provided to me.”
The Post said that Sessions did not discuss interference in the
Trump said in a New York Times interview on Wednesday that he was
disappointed by Sessions' move to recuse himself, but a White House
spokeswoman said on Thursday that the president still had confidence
in Sessions "or he would not be the attorney general."
(Reporting by Eric Walsh; Editing by Toni Reinhold)
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