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Thursday 24 January 2019

US attorney general Jeff Sessions grilled in Russia ‘collusion’ probe

Special counsel Robert Mueller is probing Donald Trump’s conduct in office and alleged Kremlin influence on his campaign.

Donald Trump talks to attorney general Jeff Sessions (Carolyn Kaster/AP)
Donald Trump talks to attorney general Jeff Sessions (Carolyn Kaster/AP)

By Eric Tucker

US attorney general Jeff Sessions was interviewed for hours last week in special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation, the US Justice Department has confirmed.

The interview comes as Mr Mueller is investigating whether President Donald Trump’s actions in office, including the firing of FBI director James Comey, constituted obstruction of justice. Mr Mueller is also investigating contacts between Mr Trump’s 2016 campaign and Russia.

Mr Sessions is thought to be the highest-ranking Trump administration official to be interviewed by Mr Mueller’s team.

He is seen as a potentially important witness given that Mr Trump initially said he fired Mr Comey last May at the recommendation of the Justice Department.

At the time, the White House released a memo from Mr Sessions’ deputy, Rod Rosenstein, faulting Mr Comey for his handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation and appearing to lay the groundwork for his dismissal.

US attorney general Jeff Sessions (Carolyn Kaster/AP)

Mr Trump has since said he was thinking of “the Russia thing” when he fired Mr Comey.

Mr Sessions recused himself from the Russia investigation in early March after acknowledging that he had had two previously undisclosed encounters with the Russian ambassador during Mr Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign. He said it would be improper for him to oversee a probe into a campaign for which he was a vocal and prominent supporter.

Mr Rosenstein appointed Mr Mueller, a former FBI director, to take over the Russia investigation one week after Mr Comey was fired.

Mr Sessions’ interview was first reported by The New York Times.

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