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WashPost: Intelligence Intercepts Reveal Sessions Discussed Campaign Matters With Russian Ambassador

Image: WashPost: Intelligence Intercepts Reveal Sessions Discussed Campaign Matters With Russian Ambassador

By    |   Saturday, 22 Jul 2017 07:15 AM

The Russian ambassador to the United States told Moscow officials that he had discussed campaign issues with Attorney General Jeff Sessions during their two meetings last year, current and former federal officials told The Washington Post on Friday.

The contents of Ambassador Sergey Kislyak's calls with his Kremlin superiors were "intercepted by U.S. spy agencies, which monitor the communications of senior Russian officials both in the United States and in Russia," the Post reports.

Sessions, who was a top Trump policy adviser during the campaign, failed to disclose two Kislyak meetings to the Senate Judiciary Committee in his confirmation hearing in January.

He later admitted to holding the conversations.

One meeting was in April 2016 at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington before President Donald Trump's first foreign policy speech – and the other was in July during the Republican National Convention.

Kislyak discussed both meetings in the phone calls that were intercepted by U.S. intelligence, according to the reports.

One U.S. official told the Post that Sessions had provided "misleading" statements about the April meeting that were "contradicted by other evidence."

In addition, a former official said that the intercepted intelligence indicated that Sessions and Kislyak had "substantive" talks on Trump's positions on Russia and "for U.S.-Russia relations in a Trump administration," the Post reports.

"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," Sarah Isgur Flores, a Justice Department spokeswoman, told the Post in a statement.

She reiterated that Sessions did not discuss Moscow's interference in last year's election.

The Post's report comes after President Trump slammed Sessions, the former six-term Alabama GOP senator, for recusing himself from the Justice Department's investigation on possible campaign ties to Moscow in March.

"Sessions should have never recused himself – and if he was going to recuse himself, he should have told me before he took the job and I would have picked somebody else," Trump told The New York Times Wednesday in an Oval Office interview.

"Jeff Sessions takes the job, gets into the job, recuses himself, which frankly I think is very unfair to the president," he added. "How do you take a job and then recuse yourself?"

The president also ripped Sessions for the responses he gave to the Judiciary Committee on Russia.

"Jeff Sessions gave some bad answers," Trump told the Times. "He gave some answers that were simple questions and should have been simple answers, but they weren’t."

But Sessions told reporters Thursday that he had no intentions of stepping down, saying that "we are serving right now."

According to the Post, a former U.S. official who read the intelligence reports said that Kislyak said that he has spoken with Sessions about issues that were critical to the Trump campaign, including candidate’s positions on "policy matters of significance to Moscow."

Sessions met a third time with Kislyak in his Senate office in September.

Officials declined to tell the Post whether intelligence of that meeting had been intercepted.

In addition, U.S. officials said that Kislyak had a reputation for "accurately relaying details about his interactions with officials in Washington," the Post reports.

At times, Russian and other foreign diplomats "have been known … to report false or misleading information to bolster their standing with their superiors or to confuse U.S. intelligence agencies."

Kislyak's term in the U.S. recently ended.

In March, Sessions recused himself from the Moscow probe after reports surfaced that he had met twice with the ambassador without disclosing it to senators at his confirmation.

"I did not have communications with the Russians," Sessions said in January.

But before the Senate Intelligence Committee last month, Sessions ripped any idea that he had colluded with the Kremlin as "an appalling and detestable lie."

Sessions appeared before the panel to rebut testimony the prior week by former FBI Director James Comey, who reportedly told senators of the Mayflower Hotel meeting in a classified hearing.

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WashPost: Intelligence Intercepts Reveal Sessions Discussed Campaign Matters With Russian Ambassador
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Saturday, 22 Jul 2017 07:15 AM
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