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Graham, McCain want answers on Sessions-Russia report

Sen. Lindsey Graham said Wednesday if the FBI determines that President Donald Trump’s campaign illegally coordinated with Russia, Attorney General Jeff Sessions should recuse himself from making the decision whether to pursue prosecutions.

Sessions, a Trump appointee, “cannot make this decision,” Graham said.

But Graham deflected a question about a Washington Post report that Sessions twice spoke with the Russian ambassador to the United States during the 2016 presidential campaign, saying he needs to know more.

“If there were contacts between the Trump campaign and Russian officials, they may be legitimate; they may be OK. I want to know what happened between the Trump campaign, the Clinton campaign and the Russians,” Graham told CNN’s Dana Bash at a town hall in Washington with Sen. John McCain.

Sergey Kislyak, the Russian ambassador, Is considered by US intelligence to be one of Russia’s top spies and spy-recruiters in Washington, according to current and former senior US government officials.

Sessions met twice, in July on the sidelines of the Republican convention, and in September in his office when Sessions was a member of the Senate armed services committee.

The Justice Department disclosed the meetings and said Sessions didn’t mislead senators during his confirmation earlier this year when he said he knew of no contacts between Trump surrogates and Russians. Sessions, then a senator, was an early Trump backer and regular surrogate for him as a candidate.

Sessions’ spokeswoman Sarah Isgur Flores said there was nothing “misleading about his answer” to Congress because the Alabama Republican “was asked during the hearing about communications between Russia and the Trump campaign–not about meetings he took as a senator and a member of the Armed Services Committee.”

“Last year, the Senator had over 25 conversations with foreign ambassadors as a senior member of the Armed Services Committee, including the British, Korean, Japanese, Polish, Indian, Chinese, Canadian, Australian, German and Russian ambassadors,” Isgur Flores said the in the statement.

Both McCain and Graham lambasted Trump over his approach to Russia and the country’s President, Vladimir Putin.

“When it comes to Russia, he has a blind spot. The bottom line is that Putin is disrupting democracy everywhere,” Graham said.

McCain, who has called for a select committee to investigate Russia’s attempts to influence the US election, said the country’s efforts require more attention.

“Have no doubt, what the Russians tried to do to our election could have destroyed democracy,” he said. “And that’s why we’ve got to pay a hell of a lot more attention to the Russians and the things they’re doing in Europe — and right now, they’re trying to determine the outcome of the French election, and they’re using cyber.”