Comey told senators about possible third Sessions-Russia meeting: report

Fired FBI Director James Comey told lawmakers in a closed hearing on Thursday that Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsGOP strategist donates to Alabama Democrat House passes concealed carry gun bill Rosenstein to testify before House Judiciary Committee next week MORE may have had a third undisclosed meeting with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak during the 2016 presidential race, CNN reported.

The network reported that the information was based in part on intercepts of Russian-to-Russian communications, but sources told CNN it was possible that Kislyak was exaggerating the extent of the encounter.

Sessions came under fire in February after it was revealed that he failed to disclose to the Senate two meetings with Kislyak in 2016 before the presidential election, while he was a high-profile campaign surrogate for President Trump. Sessions later recused himself from the federal investigation into Russian efforts to meddle in the election.

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Sessions has said that he met with the ambassador in his capacity as a U.S. senator from Alabama and that the two reported meetings were his only ones with Kislyak during the campaign.

Comey told lawmakers during an open hearing Thursday that the FBI expected Sessions to recuse himself because of factors "that would make his continued involvement in a Russia investigation problematic," though he declined to say what those factors were.

The Justice Department, however, has insisted that Sessions recused himself only because of his role promoting Trump's White House bid, and that his meetings with Kislyak had no bearing on that decision.

CNN reported late last month that congressional investigators were looking into the possibility that Sessions met a third time with Kislyak, around the time of Trump's first major foreign policy address in April 2016.

Comey was leading the FBI's investigation into Russian election interference and possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Moscow before he was fired by Trump early last month.

Since then, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who took over the investigation after Sessions's recusal, has appointed former FBI Director Robert Mueller as special counsel to lead the probe.