Attorney General Jeff Sessions did not disclose on his application for a security clearance last year that he had several meetings with the Russian ambassador to the U.S., CNN first reported on Wednesday.
Sessions did not note his meetings with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak while applying for a clearance, Justice Department spokeswoman Sarah Isgur Flores told CNN.
Sessions originally listed “a year’s worth of meetings with foreign officials on the security clearance form,” Flores told CNN, but said an FBI employee later told Sessions and his staff that he did not need to list meetings he had as a senator with foreign ambassadors.
The DOJ said in a subsequent statement that staffers were instructed not to list meetings Sessions had with foreign diplomats.
“As a United States Senator, the Attorney General met hundreds—if not thousands—of foreign dignitaries and their staff,” DOJ spokesman Ian Prior said in a Thursday statement. “In filling out the SF-86 form, the Attorney General’s staff consulted with those familiar with the process, as well as the FBI investigator handling the background check, and was instructed not to list meetings with foreign dignitaries and their staff connected with his Senate activities.”
The FBI declined to comment to CNN.
Justice Department officials told CNN that applicants are required to list “any contact” between themselves or their families with any “foreign government” or its “representatives” in the prior seven years.
Sessions denied during his Senate confirmation hearing in January that he had any “communications with Russians.”
In March, however, the Washington Post reported that Sessions met twice with Kislyak before the election. Sessions’ spokeswoman confirmed a day later that he spoke to Kislyak.
Sessions subsequently recused himself from an investigation into ties between Trump’s campaign and Russia in light of those revelations.