President Donald Trump has defended under-fire Attorney General Jeff Sessions amid calls for him to quit.
According to the Democrats, Jeff Sessions “lied on oath” at his confirmation hearing about contacts with the Russian ambassador.
President Trump said Jeff Sessions “could have stated his response more accurately but it was clearly not intentional” and accused Democrats of a “witch hunt”.
However, Jeff Sessions has removed himself from an FBI probe into alleged Russian meddling in the US election.
The Democrats have maintained their attacks on Jeff Sessions, saying his explanation regarding his contacts with the Russian ambassador in 2016 were “simply not credible”.
Donald Trump said the Democrats had “lost the election and now they have lost their grip on reality”.
The Trump campaign was dogged by allegations that some of his team had met with Russian officials and that Moscow had interfered in the election on his behalf. Donald Trump has branded the allegations “fake news”.
It stems from Jeff Sessions’ comments at his confirmation hearing in January.
He was asked: “If there is any evidence that anyone affiliated with the Trump campaign communicated with the Russian government, in the course of this campaign, what will you do?”
Jeff Sessions responded: “I’m 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’m unable to comment on it.”
However, it then emerged Jeff Sessions and Russian ambassador Sergei Kislyak held a private conversation in Sessions’ office in September and spoke at a meeting with several other envoys on the sidelines of the Republican National Convention in July.
Jeff Sessions was at the time a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee. However, he was already a prominent member of Donald Trump’s campaign team.
The former Alabama senator also had meetings with more than 25 foreign ambassadors in the course of the year.
He insists he did not lie at the confirmation hearing, saying his comments were “honest and correct as I understood it at the time”.
Jeff Sessions said he had spoken with the Russian ambassador as a US senator and not as Donald Trump’s “surrogate”.
He said: “I never had meetings with Russian operatives or Russian intermediaries about the Trump campaign.”
Jeff Sessions admitted that in his confirmation comments he “should have slowed down and said, <<but I did meet one Russian official a couple of times>>”.
He said that during his meeting with Sergei Kislyak they talked about terrorism and then “somehow the subject of Ukraine came up”.
Nancy Pelosi repeated her call for Jeff Sessions to quit. She said his “his narrow recusal and sorry attempt to explain away his perjury” were totally inadequate.
Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House intelligence committee, said Jeff Sessions “clearly misled” the Senate and his explanation was “simply not credible”.
Although some top Republicans in the House and Senate agreed Jeff Sessions should recuse himself from the investigation, senior figures rallied behind him, resisting demands for the appointment of an independent prosecutor.
For Jeff Sessions to be charged with perjury, prosecutors would have to show that he not only made false statements, but knowingly and willfully misled members of the committee about an indisputable fact.