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Attorney General Jeff Sessions discussed key Trump campaign issues with the former Russian ambassador to the United States during the 2016 presidential race, The Washington Post reported Friday, citing current and former American officials.
Sessions and ambassador Sergey Kislyak talked about matters of interest to the Kremlin, including President Donald Trump's stance on Russia-related issues, a former official told the Post. That allegation directly contradicts the attorney general's assertion that he "did not have communications with the Russians."
Current and former U.S. intelligence officials told the newspaper that the conflicting information came from intercepted communications between Kislyak and Moscow. While it's possible Kislyak could have inflated or misconstrued his conversations, officials told the Post that the former ambassador had a reputation for accuracy.
Sessions recused himself from the investigation into Russia's efforts to meddle in the 2016 election after he failed to disclose his contacts with Kislyak during his confirmation hearing.
When reached for comment, Justice Department spokeswoman Sarah Isgur Flores responded:
"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."
Flores also said that Sessions stands by his statement that he "never met with or had any conversations with any Russians or any foreign officials concerning any type of interference with any campaign or election."