Mr Sessions said he had spoken with the Russian ambassador as a USA senator and not as Mr Trump's surrogate. These documents also allegedly say quote, "There was a continuing exchange of information during the campaign between Trump's surrogates and intermediaries for the Russian government". Critics questioned whether Sessions could have been impartial due to his role as an advisor to the Trump campaign.
But that has been a long-running game, and the intelligence sources BuzzFeed News spoke with said there hasn't necessarily been any huge change in security measures, despite the well-documented efforts by Russian intelligence operatives to manipulate the United States election.
Nancy Pelosi, the top Democrat in the Senate, called for Sessions to step down.
President Donald Trump said he has "total" confidence in Attorney General Jeff Sessions and that he sees no need for Sessions to recuse himself from any investigation of Russian meddling in USA politics. One official said they doubted they could "pick him out of a line-up". "What was said? What were the communications?" he asked.
Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, who unsuccessfully fought Trump for the Republican presidential nomination, told MSNBC that Sessions's testimony was "unfortunate". "Well, again, I think the investigation will show us that", the Colorado senator said.
Justice Department spokeswoman Sarah Isgur Flores said on March 1 that "there was absolutely nothing misleading about his answer".
He described the reaction to the news of Mr Sessions' meetings as "an emotional atmosphere leading to resistance to the idea of any US-Russia dialogue". "If there was nothing wrong, why don't you just tell the truth".
"It's too early to say that he perjured himself or that he meant to do this, but it very clearly indicates that he must now recuse himself" from investigations of Russian contact, Rep. Jim Himes, a member of the House Intelligence Committee, said during an appearance on MSNBC. He said he was not aware of Mr Sessions' contacts with the Russian envoy.
Democrats went further, demanding that the attorney general resign and that a special prosecutor be appointed to probe the administration's Russian Federation links. Sessions has come under fire from Democrats and some Republicans after the Justice Department acknowledged that he, at a time he was acting as a prominent surrogate for Trump's campaign, had contacts past year with the Russian ambassador.
After discussing the potential downside of the lunch given the allegations of Russian hacking of the election, Sessions declined the lunch, according to the senior campaign adviser, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he is being considered for jobs in the Trump administration. "Today we can state that none of those hopes have come true, talk about removing sanctions has gone quiet, the issue of a Putin-Trump meeting is hanging in the air, The White House says that Russian Federation should give back Crimea, and the Pentagon has said it intends to talk to Russian Federation from a position of strength". The officials who confirmed that staffers were instructed to comply with preservation-of-materials directions did so on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to publicly disclose the memo from White House counsel Don McGahn. At the confirmation hearing in January, Sen.
While top leaders wanted Sessions removed from the investigations on Russia, President Trump did not. He asked Sessions what he would do if there were evidence that anyone from the Trump campaign had been in touch with the Russian government during the campaign.
The New York Times reported two weeks ago, citing USA intelligence sources, that three campaign staff - including campaign chief Paul Manafort - had communicated with Russian intelligence officers.
He insisted his comments at his confirmation hearing were "honest and correct as I understood it at the time". Separately in January, Sen.
The furor over Sessions is forcing the Trump administration to defend a new front in its battle to deflect or refute allegations that his close associates had unexplained contacts with Putin's government at the same time Russian Federation was trying to influence the 2016 presidential election. There were growing calls Thursday for Sessions to resign and even to face prosecution. The ACLU demanded an investigation into whether Sessions committed perjury.
Sessions said that he would be writing to the Senate Judiciary Committee in the next day or two to explain his testimony.
Many Democrats and a few Republicans - including McCain and Graham - have called for a select committee to investigate the issue, but GOP leaders have so far rejected those calls, which would give them less control over the course of the investigations. "I would review it and try to do the right thing as to whether not it would stay within the jurisdiction of the attorney general or not".