Mueller interviews top White House aide

Attorney General Jeff Sessions speaks about domestic security on Nov. 2 in New York.   Spencer Platt    
  Getty Images

Attorney General Jeff Sessions speaks about domestic security on Nov. 2 in New York. Spencer Platt Getty Images

Charging documents in that case indicate that Papadopoulos told the council "that he had connections that could help arrange a meeting between then-candidate Trump" and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Popadopoulos pleaded guilty to making false statements to the FBI about communications he had had with Russian contacts while a member of the Trump campaign.

Sessions has become a scapegoat for Trump's anger, allowing the president to avoid some of the political consequences of directly attacking the special counsel.

One of the attendees at that meeting, J.D. Gordon, recalled that Sessions quickly "shut him down and said, 'We're not going to do that'". But pressuring the attorney general to investigate a foe would be a violation of longstanding protocol and insensitive to the bright-line boundary between the White House and the FBI.

White House senior policy adviser Stephen Miller has been interviewed as part of special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia probe, according to sources familiar with the investigation. Sessions had testified during his confirmation hearing in January that he "did not have any communications with the Russians". Al Franken, D-Minn., that "I did not have communications" with the Russians during the campaign and said he was "unaware" of contacts between others in the campaign and Russia.

First lady Melania Trump looks on as President Donald Trump speaks with reporters before departing the White House for a trip to Asia, Friday, Nov. 3, 2017, in Washington.

Republicans, for their part, may press Sessions on the Justice Department's handling of an investigation into Hillary Clinton's email practices as well as an Obama-era uranium deal that has invited GOP scrutiny. Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein said it was "characteristic of authoritarian regimes, not democracies, and it needs to stop". He said he mentioned in passing to Sessions that he was preparing to visit Russia and Sessions "had no reaction whatsoever".

But that narrative has been challenged by a pair of recent events, most notably a guilty plea from George Papadopoulos, who last month admitted in court to lying to the FBI about his own foreign contacts.

Papadopoulos also wrote a 'high-ranking campaign official, ' according to the special counsel, who has since been identified as former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort, who has been charged with reporting and financial crimes.

"When you appear before our committee, we intend to ask you about these inconsistencies", the Democrats wrote in a letter last week that referenced statements Sessions had made to Senate committees. He responded, "I did not - and I'm not aware of anyone else that did". Asked if he would fire the attorney general if he doesn't investigate his Democratic political rivals, Trump said, "I don't know".

Trump issued a flurry of tweets over a 3-1/2-hour span Friday urging the Justice Department to investigate Hillary Clinton and the Democratic National Committee over a joint fundraising agreement they signed in August 2015.

"This is another example in an alarming pattern in which you, the nation's top law enforcement officer, apparently failed to tell the truth, under oath, about the Trump team's s with agents of Russia, a hostile foreign power that interfered in the 2016 election", Sen. "They can't accuse Trump of politicizing if they're doing the same thing".

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