Sessions interviewed in Russia probe

Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsSarah Sanders to leave White House Sarah Sanders to leave White House Barr compares his return to DOJ to D-Day invasion MORE was interviewed last week by special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerKamala Harris says her Justice Dept would have 'no choice' but to prosecute Trump for obstruction Kamala Harris says her Justice Dept would have 'no choice' but to prosecute Trump for obstruction Dem committees win new powers to investigate Trump MORE’s team as part of the Justice Department's investigation into Russian election meddling.

The Justice Department confirmed a report in The New York Times that Sessions was questioned for several hours. It is the first time that Mueller’s team has interviewed a member of President TrumpDonald John TrumpDC board rejects Trump Hotel effort to dismiss complaint seeking removal of liquor license on basis of Trump's 'character' DC board rejects Trump Hotel effort to dismiss complaint seeking removal of liquor license on basis of Trump's 'character' Mexico's immigration chief resigns amid US pressure over migrants MORE’s Cabinet.

Sessions recused himself from the Russia investigation in March, despite criticism from Trump. It was reported earlier this month that Trump ordered White House counsel Don McGahn to block Sessions from recusing himself, but the attorney general refused.

ADVERTISEMENT

It is likely that Mueller questioned Sessions about Trump's firing of former FBI Director James ComeyJames Brien ComeyUnder Trump, our democracy is for sale Sarah Sanders to leave White House Sarah Sanders to leave White House MORE and whether the president obstructed justice. 

Sessions recommended that Trump fire Comey over the handling of the investigation into former Secretary of State Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonYoung Turks founder says Democrats should avoid repeat of 2016 and pick a progressive Young Turks founder says Democrats should avoid repeat of 2016 and pick a progressive Trump highlights polls that showed Clinton beating him by double digits MORE’s private email server, but Comey has said he thinks the president fired him for refusing to drop the FBI's investigation into Michael Flynn.

Mueller's team announced in December that Flynn, Trump's first national security adviser, had pleaded guilty to making false statements to the FBI and was cooperating with their investigation.

Sessions has also been under scrutiny for statements he made during his confirmation hearing, when he told the Senate Judiciary Committee under oath that he had no knowledge of communications between the Trump campaign and Russia and that he had not communicated with Russians himself. 

It was later reported that Sessions had met three times with former Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak before the election, which he said was done in his capacity as a senator from Alabama.

Sessions later testified in front of the House Judiciary Committee in November that his previous statements were truthful.

He acknowledged that he participated in a meeting with former Trump campaign aide George PapadopoulosGeorge Demetrios PapadopoulosInquiry into origins of Russia investigation is a scam Trump accuses Democrats of crime amid rising calls for impeachment Comey: Trump peddling 'dumb lies' MORE, who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his contacts with Russians and attempts to set up a meeting between the Trump campaign and Russians, according to documents unsealed in Mueller’s probe.

Sessions testified that he did not have any “clear recollection” of what Papadopoulos said at the meeting. 

“After reading his account, and to the best of my recollection, I believe that I wanted to make clear to him that he was not authorized to represent the campaign with the Russian government,” Sessions said during his November testimony.

“Out of respect for the special and his process, and because of the privacy obligations we owe to potential or actual witnesses, the White House does not comment on witness appearances before the special counsel,” White House lawyer Ty Cobb said in a statement on Tuesday.

--Jordan Fabian contributed to this report, which was updated at 11:49 a.m.