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Watch: Attorney General Jeff Sessions speaks amid backlash over Russia contact

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Attorney General Jeff Sessions holds a news conference Thursday following backlash over his Senate testimony about contacts with a Russian official.

Sessions, who advised Trump during his campaign, is under increasing pressure following a Washington Post report that he met twice with Russia's ambassador to the United States before the 2016 presidential election. The report appears to contradict his denial in confirmation testimony to the Senate.

Asked about possible Trump campaign contacts with Russia during his January confirmation hearing, Sessions said he had "been called a surrogate a time or two in that campaign." He said he "did not have communications with the Russians" and was unable to comment on alleged contacts between Trump campaign officials and Russian officials.

Sessions oversees the Justice Department and FBI, which have led investigations into alleged Russian meddling in the election and any links between Russia and Trump associates. Sessions told NBC on Thursday that he will recuse himself "whenever it's appropriate," but did not say he will distance himself from Russia-related investigations specifically. Sessions has said his conversations were as part of his duties as a former senator, not as a Trump campaign surrogate.

President Donald Trump, House Speaker Paul Ryan and many Republicans said Sessions should not distance himself from Russia-linked investigations outright. Several top Republicans have called for Sessions to recuse himself, while the top Democrats in both the Senate and House urged him to resign.