President Donald Trump acknowledged on Thursday night that Attorney General Jeff Sessions could have been more accurate in what he said about his contacts with Russian officials.
At the same time, the President blamed Democrats for blowing up the controversy over Sessions for political reasons, describing the saga as a “witch hunt”.
"Jeff Sessions is an honest man. He did not say anything wrong. He could have stated his response more accurately, but it was clearly not intentional," Trump said in a statement quoted by Reuters.
"The Democrats are overplaying their hand. It is a total witch hunt!" he charged.
Sessions earlier on Thursday announced he will recuse himself from federal investigations into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election, after it was revealed late 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.
The Sessions saga began just hours after the House of Representatives intelligence committee announced it would investigate allegations of collusion between Trump's presidential campaign and Russia.