U.S. intelligence agencies intercepted a conversation in which Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak claimed he had discussed President Donald Trump’s campaign and policy positions with then-Sen. Jeff Sessions during the 2016 election campaign, The Washington Post reported Friday.
The intercepted conversations suggest Kislyak and Sessions, now Trump’s attorney general, had “substantive” conversations about Trump’s position on Russia, and how he saw his relationship with the country’s government should he win the election, according to the Post report.
U.S. officials told the Post they had no way to verify if Kislyak was accurately recounting his conversations with Sessions.
The Justice Department didn’t immediately return HuffPost’s request for comment.
Sessions met Kislyak at least two times in 2016: once at the Republican National Convention in July, and once at his Senate office in September. A third meeting, during a reception the Mayflower hotel in Washington, has also been reported, but Sessions has denied having private meetings at that reception.
“If any brief interaction occurred in passing with the Russian ambassador during that reception, I do not remember it,” Sessions said during testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee in June.
Sessions did not disclose any of those meetings on his security clearance forms, and during his confirmation hearing denied any “communications with the Russians.” The meetings were only publicly disclosed following a CNN report in May.
If Kislyak’s comments are accurate, they contradict what Sessions has publicly said about his interactions with Russian officials. He specifically denied any conversations with Russians about the campaign after he recused himself from overseeing the FBI’s investigation into whether Trump associates colluded with Russians to influence the 2016 election.
“I never had meetings with Russian operatives or Russian intermediaries about the Trump campaign,” Sessions said in March. “And the idea that I was part of a quote, ‘continuing exchange of information’ during the campaign between Trump surrogates and intermediaries for the Russian government is totally false.”
Sessions has repeatedly said he does not recall his conversations with Kislyak.
The report comes just two days after Trump lambasted Sessions for recusing himself from the Russia probe. In an interview with The New York Times, the president said he wouldn’t have tapped Sessions as attorney general had he known Sessions would recuse himself.
Sessions later said he intends to remain in his role.