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Allegra Kirkland

Allegra Kirkland is a New York-based reporter for Talking Points Memo. She previously worked on The Nation’s web team and as the associate managing editor for AlterNet. Follow her on Twitter @allegrakirkland.

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LATE UPDATE Tuesday March 7, 2017 3:42 pm: In a phone interview, J.D. Gordon again disputed Diana Denman’s version of events, and said reports that he has changed his story about his degree of involvement in the Ukraine amendment she proposed were a “leap.” “I didn’t change the platform nor did I say I did,” Gordon said. Instead, Gordon recalled, he spoke privately with RNC national security subcommittee chairman Steve Yates during the meeting in which the amendment was discussed, and told him that language about providing Ukraine with “lethal defensive weapons” was a “problem” because it broke with Trump’s statements on wanting improved relations with Russia and not wanting to go World War III over Ukraine. He said Yates told him they would have a “robust discussion with delegates, and that was it.”

“[CNN’s] Jim Acosta took that to mean I pushed for the amendment,” Gordon said. “I mean, what’s the definition of pushed for the amendment, right? It’s an issue of semantics.”

Original story below: Until Thursday, the Trump campaign team’s official line was that it played no role in softening language regarding Ukraine in the GOP platform during the Republican National Convention last summer in Cleveland.

But then J.D. Gordon, the Trump campaign’s national security policy representative at the RNC, told CNN that he had personally advocated for altering an amendment on Ukraine, providing vindication to the Republican delegate who initially proposed it.

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LATE UPDATE Tuesday March 7, 2017 3:42 pm: In a phone interview, J.D. Gordon again disputed Diana Denman’s version of events, and said reports that he has changed his story about his degree of involvement in the Ukraine amendment she proposed were a “leap.” “I didn’t change the platform nor did I say I did,” Gordon said. Instead, Gordon recalled, he spoke privately with RNC national security subcommittee chairman Steve Yates during the meeting in which the amendment was discussed, and told him that language about providing Ukraine with “lethal defensive weapons” was a “problem” because it broke with Trump’s statements on wanting improved relations with Russia and not wanting to go World War III over Ukraine. He said Yates told him they would have a “robust discussion with delegates, and that was it.”

“[CNN’s] Jim Acosta took that to mean I pushed for the amendment,” Gordon said. “I mean, what’s the definition of pushed for the amendment, right? It’s an issue of semantics.”

Original story below: In a significant reversal, a Trump campaign official on Thursday told CNN that he personally advocated for softening the language on Ukraine in the GOP platform at the Republican National Convention, and that he did so on behalf of the President.

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Like many in the Trump administration, Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ views on Russia have shifted over time.

As a senator from Alabama, Sessions was a Russia hawk who cautioned that President Vladimir Putin posed a risk to the security of Europe and the United States. By March 2016, when he joined Donald Trump's campaign as a senior national security adviser, he began moderating that language, casting doubts on reports that Russia was behind the hacks of Democratic organizations and operatives last summer and claiming closer ties between Putin and the next President would be beneficial.

Comments Sessions made on Russian interference in the U.S. election during his confirmation hearing, in particular, are under a microscope after the Washington Post revealed Wednesday that he failed to disclose two conversations he had with Russian ambassador Segey Kislyak during the campaign. Sessions was one of Trump’s closest allies on Capitol Hill at the time, while investigations into Russia’s involvement in the election already were underway.

Here's a rough timeline of Sessions’ comments on Russia and election interference:

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Facing growing pressure over the revelation that he failed to disclose two meetings with the Russian ambassador during the 2016 presidential campaign, Attorney General Jeff Sessions and his backers are arguing that those meetings occurred in his capacity as a senator and not as a surrogate for Donald Trump.

“He 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,” Sessions spokeswoman Sarah Isgur Flores told the Washington Post Wednesday.

Yet Sessions was clearly identified as a senior adviser to the Trump campaign ahead of the first of his meetings with the ambassador, and his ties to Trump world are deep and far-reaching. Sessions was the first senator to endorse Trump; served as chairman of his national security advisory committee; is seen as an intellectual godfather of key Trump administration policies, like the travel ban against citizens of seven majority-Muslim countries; was a frequent presence at Trump Tower during the post-election transition to the White House; and loaned key members of his senior staff to the Trump campaign, several of whom ended up with plum roles in the administration.

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