Attorney General Jeff Sessions probably could have been more clear while answering questions during a Senate confirmation hearing about speaking with a Russian ambassador, but the fact is, the "underlying meeting is a nothing burger," Sen. Ted Cruz said Thursday.
"I think context matters a lot," the Texas Republican and former GOP presidential candidate told MSNBC's "Morning Joe" program. "Jeff was being asked about the Trump campaign communicating with the Russians. I think he understood that he was answering in that capacity. And that is perfectly understandable. "
Sessions, when asked by Senate Judiciary Committee member Sen. Al Franken, what he would do if he were to investigate communications between campaign staff for now-President Donald Trump and Russians, the senator replied that he was "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, and I am unable to comment on it."
"The underlying meeting is a nothing burger," Cruz said Thursday. "It's what senators do every day, meeting with foreign ambassadors; that's part of the job. Jeff is, was, a very hard-working senator.
"He will be a hard-working attorney general, and so I think everyone is getting all worked up because it's a chance to beat up the attorney general and beat up the president. But I think the underlying meeting he is simply doing his job."
Senators often speak with ambassadors, said Cruz, including himself.
"When this story broke last night, I asked my team to just pull up the calendar for January and February of this year," said Cruz. "I met with six different ambassadors in the last two months. That's part of being a senator."
Cruz continued that Sessions was saying that he did not meet with the Russian ambassador as a surrogate of the Trump campaign, but rather as a senator, and he would be "willing to bet" Franken himself has also met with many foreign ambassadors.
"I'm also willing to bet that when Al Franken meets with foreign ambassadors, he didn't consider it the Hillary campaign meeting with them," said Cruz.
Cruz said he hasn't sought meetings with ambassadors himself, but they call him, and if Russia's ambassador had called, "I imagine I probably would have taken the meeting. That's part of the job. But I can't recall an instance where I've reached out to an ambassador and said, let's do a meeting."
Sessions, Cruz said, is a "man of integrity, he's a man of candor," and he does not know of any senator from either party who would say Sessions has been "anything less than totally honest."
The accusations, he reiterated, are a "nothing burger" because he understands that Sessions met with 25 different ambassadors last year, including the Russian one.
"If you are doing your job, you meet with ambassadors and foreign leaders," said Cruz. "That's part of the job."
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