Donald Trump has defended Jeff Sessions in the row which has seen the attorney general step aside from investigations into alleged Russian interference in the US election.
The president accused Democrats of politicising the issue and called the controversy a “total witch hunt”.
There have been calls for America’s top prosecutor to resign after revelations that he met Russia’s ambassador twice during the campaign.
Sessions denies wrongdoing and says withdrawal from the inquiry is enough.
“My staff recommended recusal. They said since I had involvement with the campaign, I should not be involved in any campaign investigation. I have studied the rules and considered their comments and evaluation,” the longtime US senator told a news conference.
“Jeff Sessions is an honest man. He did not say anything wrong,” President Trump wrote on Twitter, insisting that while his response could have been more accurate, it was “not intentional”.
“The Democrats are overplaying their hand,” the president went on. “It is a total witch hunt!”
Sessions denied communicating with the Russians, under oath at a congressional hearing in January.
He has now tried to portray his meetings with Moscow’s ambassador Sergey Kisslyak as benign.
But the president’s National Security adviser Michael Flynn was forced to quit over disclosures that he had discussed US sanctions on Russia with Moscow’s envoy – contradicting earlier comments.
The questions over Russian electoral interference and Trump’s links to Moscow are unlikely to die down.
US intelligence agencies believe Russian hackers helped Trump defeat Hillary Clinton by gaining access to the Democrat Party’s computer systems, a claim the Kremlin denies.
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