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Jeff Sessions didn't disclose meetings with Russian ambassador when applying for security clearance

  • The Justice Department said Attorney General Jeff Sessions didn't disclose his contacts with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak when he applied for security clearance.
  • The DOJ said Sessions didn't list his meetings because he said they took place under his role as a senator and not as a surrogate for the Trump campaign.
  • In March, Sessions recused himself from investigations into Russia's election interference amid backlash regarding his meetings with Kislyak.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions speaks in front of a portrait of former U.S. President Andrew Jackson after being sworn-in in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, U.S., February 9, 2017.
Kevin Lamarque | Reuters
Attorney General Jeff Sessions speaks in front of a portrait of former U.S. President Andrew Jackson after being sworn-in in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, U.S., February 9, 2017.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions didn't disclose his meetings with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak when he applied for security clearance, according to the Justice Department.

CNN first reported that an FBI employee told Sessions and his team that he did not need to disclose meetings he had with foreign officials that occurred in his role as a senator.

In a subsequent statement to CNBC, the Justice Department reiterated that explanation, adding that Sessions "met hundreds—if not thousands—of foreign dignitaries and their staff."

"In filling out the SF-86 form, the Attorney General's staff consulted with those familiar with the process, as well as the FBI investigator handling the background check, and was instructed not to list meetings with foreign dignitaries and their staff connected with his Senate activities," Ian Prior, deputy director of public affairs at the Justice Department, said in a statement.

The FBI declined to comment to CNN.

The revelation renews scrutiny on the meeting between Sessions and Kislyak. In the attorney general's confirmation hearing, Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., asked what Sessions would do if he learned that someone in the Trump staff had communicated with the Kremlin during the campaign.

Sessions replied, "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'm unable to comment on it."

While Democrats allege that Sessions misled the Senate Judiciary Committee with that remark, Flores disagreed. She argued that the question was about meetings that took place in his capacity as a surrogate for the campaign, not for those which happened in his capacity as a member of the Armed Services Committee.

Amid the fallout, Sessions ultimately recused himself from investigations into Russia's interference in the 2016 election and possible connections to the Trump campaign.