US Intel Panel to Probe Contacts Between Trump’s Admin and Russia

According to a report, Jeff Sessions spoke with Russia’s ambassador twice last year, while he was still US Senator.

The US House intelligence panel inquiry will scrutinise contacts between Donald Trump's presidential campaign and Moscow, BBC reported.

The development comes in the wake of reports stating that Jeff Sessions, while still a US senator, spoke twice last year with Russia's ambassador, encounters he did not disclose when asked during his confirmation hearing to become attorney general about possible contacts between Donald Trump's campaign and Russian officials.

One of the meetings was a private conversation between Sessions and Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak that took place in September in the senator's office, at the height of what US intelligence officials say was a Russian cyber campaign to upend the US presidential race, The Washington Post reported.

According to The Post, when Sessions spoke with Kislyak in July and September, he was a senior member of the influential Senate Armed Services Committee as well as one of Trump’s top foreign policy advisers.

American allies in the Europe, including British and the Dutch had provided information on meetings between Russian officials and associates of President-elect Donald Trump to the Obama administration during its last days, The New York Times reported.

Although the details of the meetings were not clear, but these reports contradicts the testimony that Sessions provided to the Congress in January when he said he “did not have communications with the Russians.”

Republican senators had so far been reluctant to agree to Democratic Party demands for the inquiry but the previously undisclosed discussions could fuel new congressional calls for the appointment of a special counsel to investigate Russia's alleged role in the 2016 presidential election.

Trump's first national security adviser, Michael Flynn, was fired last month after he discussed US sanctions on Russia with Kislyak before Trump took office and misled Vice President Mike Pence about the conversations.

As attorney general, Sessions oversees the Justice Department, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation, which have been leading investigations into Russian meddling and any links to Trump's associates. Sessions has so far resisted calls to recuse himself.

“I’m not aware of any of those activities,” Sessions responded, according to the Post. He added: “I have been called a surrogate at a time or two in that campaign and I did not have communications with the Russians.”

(With inputs from Reuters)