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House Speaker Paul Ryan said on Thursday that he sees no “purpose or reason” for Attorney General Jeff Sessions to recuse himself from overseeing Russia-related investigations unless Sessions himself becomes the subject of an investigation.
Ryan’s comments came after reports that Sessions had two meetings with Russia’s ambassador to the US during the 2016 presidential campaign. Sessions had said during his confirmation hearing for attorney general that he “did not have communications with the Russians” while he served as a campaign surrogate for Donald Trump.
But other prominent Republican lawmakers are calling for Sessions to recuse himself from any investigation concerning the Trump campaign’s ties to the Russian government.
Rep. Jason Chaffetz, who leads the House Oversight Committee, tweeted on Thursday, “AG Sessions should clarify his testimony and recuse himself.”
Meanwhile, many Democrats, including House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi, Senate Minority leader Chuck Schumer, are demanding that Sessions resign, accusing him of lying to Congress and thus perjuring himself.
“Sessions is not fit to serve as the top law enforcement officer of our country and must resign,” Pelosi said in a statement on Thursday.
Ryan accused Democratic lawmakers of exaggerating their response to the reports.
“I think Democrats are lighting their hair on fire to try to get you to cover this story,” Ryan said. “There’s nothing new that we have seen here.”
Bryan Logan contributed to this report.