U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced on Thursday that he will recuse himself from federal investigations into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election.
“I have recused myself in the matters that deal with the Trump campaign,” he said at a press conference, according to The Hill.
Sessions had come under mounting bipartisan pressure to recuse himself after it was revealed late Wednesday that he spoke twice with the Russian envoy last year and failed to tell senators during his confirmation hearing.
A spokeswoman for Sessions denied that he was being untruthful when he claimed at his confirmation hearing that he had no contact with Russian officials, but key Republicans, including House Oversight Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz and former Oversight Chairman Darrell Issa called on Sessions to step aside.
Democrats also called for his recusal, with many led by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer calling for him to resign from the Justice Department completely, noted The Hill.
President Donald Trump earlier on Thursday expressed “total” confidence in Sessions, dismissing calls for him to recuse himself.
On Wednesday, the House of Representatives intelligence committee announced it would investigate allegations of collusion between Trump's presidential campaign and Russia.
The investigation comes following a recent report that several of Trump's associates, as well as several members of his campaign team, spoke numerous times with Russians prior to the November 2016 elections.
According to the New York Times, phone records and intercepted calls show Trump campaign officials and advisers repeatedly conversed with senior Russian government and intelligence officials. The conversations took place over a period of several months.
The calls in question are completely separate from the ones Trump's former National Security Adviser, Michael Flynn, reportedly had with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak.