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Mark Wilson/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The State Department is pushing back on a new wave of rumors that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is planning on resigning.

“That is false,” spokesperson Heather Nauert said when asked about the rumors at the department's briefing Tuesday. “The secretary has been very clear: He intends to stay here at the State Department. We have a lot of work that is left to be done ahead of us. He recognizes that. He’s deeply engaged in that work.

“He does, however, serve at the pleasure of the president, just as any Cabinet official,” she added, in what could be taken as a nod to the president’s open criticism of Attorney General Jeff Sessions and speculation that he might resign, too.

Tillerson has had some tension with the White House over staffing at the State Department and his independence to make decisions about the nation’s foreign policy agency, senior administration officials told ABC News. But he's also remarked about his commitment to service and the call he heard to take this role.

“I’m still developing myself as a values-based servant leader, and this new opportunity that I have to serve our country has provided me with new ways of learning ... so it gives me a chance to grow as a leader,” he told the Boy Scouts of America in an emotional address Friday.

Senior aide R.C. Hammond has said Tillerson will stay in the role as “as long as there are rogue regimes pursuing nuclear weapons or terrorists seeking safe haven,” according to Buzzfeed News.

Tillerson has also been out of the public eye since Friday, and Nauert said today that he’s “taking a little time off.”

“He does have the ability to go away for a few days on his own ... just taking a little time off," she said. “He’s got a lot of work. He just came back from that mega-trip from overseas -- as you all well know, many of you were there for the G-20, and his other travel as well, so he’s entitled to taking a few days himself.”

She later clarified that the vacation was planned in advance and was not in response to any resignation rumors.

Last Thursday, he met with the president, Defense Secretary James Mattis, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford and other top officials at the Pentagon, before briefing members of the House of Representatives on Capitol Hill; meanwhile, his public schedule listed only “meetings and briefings” at the State Department.

Nauert also spoke to Tillerson’s thoughts on Trump’s politically charged speech to the Boy Scouts –- just three days after Tillerson’s own. Nauert said that Trump addressed the Boy Scouts Jamboree at Tillerson’s invitation, but the secretary could not attend.

Tillerson is “aware of the president’s comments,” but didn’t express an opinion on what he said, according to Nauert.

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eurobanks/iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The House of Representatives today passed sweeping sanctions that punish Russia for its election meddling and aggression toward its neighbors.

The bill -- already approved by the Senate -- also punishes Iran and North Korea.

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ABCNews.com(WASHINGTON) -- President Donald Trump said Tuesday that he is "disappointed" in Attorney General Jeff Sessions, adding to a recent spate of public criticisms.

"He should not have recused himself almost immediately after he took office, and if he was going to recuse himself, he should have told me prior to taking office, and I would have, quite simply, picked somebody else. So I think that's a bad thing, not for the president but for the presidency. I think it's unfair to the presidency, and that's the way I feel," Trump said at a joint news conference.

Trump said that he wants Sessions "to be much tougher on the leaks from intelligence agencies, which are leaking like rarely have they ever leaked before at a very important level," he said.

"These are intelligence agencies. We cannot have that happen," he said.

"We will see what happens. Time will tell. Time will tell," he added.

The joint news conference took place alongside Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri, who is visiting the White House.

Before giving his official remarks about Hariri's visit, Trump praised today's health care vote, calling it a "big step" and thanking Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., for making "a tough trip to get here and vote."

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ABCNews.com(WASHINGTON) -- Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., was welcomed back to the Senate floor with a round of applause after returning to D.C. less than a week after disclosing his brain tumor diagnosis.

Senators from both sides of the aisle gave their colleague a standing ovation when he arrived on the floor to cast his vote Tuesday.

McCain decided to return to Washington quickly to be able to vote on a procedural motion that would allow senators to debate the Republican health care plan that would replace Obamacare.

McCain cast his vote in favor of the motion. It passed, allowing Republicans to advance their health care bill.

Following a tie-breaking vote by Vice President Mike Pence, McCain was given the opportunity to address his colleagues.

He stressed the importance of the Senate, issuing what appeared to be a warning to President Donald Trump.

"We are not the president's subordinates. We are his equal," McCain said of the legislative branch.

McCain also spoke at length about the at-times acrimonious relations within the Senate and urged his colleagues to work across the aisle.

"Our deliberations can still be important and useful, but I think we can all agree that they haven't been overburdened by greatness lately," he said.

"Stop listening to the bombastic loudmouths on the radio and television and the internet. To hell with them!" he said in a line that was met by applause.

"What have we to lose by trying to work together to find those solutions?" he asked.

McCain wrapped up his speech by saying that he has "every intention" of returning to the Senate after treating his tumor, warning that his return will give "many of you cause to regret all the nice things you said about me."

President Trump, who has a turbulent history with McCain, praised him as an "American hero" for coming back to vote.

During a joint news conference with Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri, who is visiting the White House Tuesday, Trump opened his remarks by saying that McCain is a "very brave man" who "made a tough trip to get here and vote."

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ABCNews.com(WASHINGTON) -- The Senate voted 51-50 Tuesday to move forward with a debate on health care reform, even though it was not clear what measure the body would be considering. Vice President Mike Pence cast the tie-breaking vote.

Susan Collins from Maine and Lisa Murkowski from Alaska were the only two Republican senators who joined Democrats in voting no on the motion to proceed.

Before the voting began, protesters chanted "Kill the bill" and "Shame! Shame!"

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., who was diagnosed with brain cancer last week, returned to the Senate floor to vote in favor of moving the debate forward. His appearance was met with a standing ovation.

"I voted for the motion to proceed to allow debate to continue and amendments be offered," McCain said. "I will not vote for this bill as it is today. It's a shell of a bill right now. We all know that."

The Senate GOP has been dealt several setbacks, including not having enough votes for its original plan to repeal and replace aspects of Obamacare as well as a straight repeal, but President Trump has pushed for the body to make progress.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said the debate on health care in the Senate will be "an open amendment process."

"This is just the beginning. We’re not out here to spike the football, this is the long way," McConnell said after the vote. "But we’ll finish at the end of the week hopefully with a measure that can either go to the House and be taken up or go to Congress. And we’re pleased to have been able to take the first step and that’s the direction for today."

In a statement released today, Trump said he applauds senators for "taking a giant step to end the Obamacare nightmare."

"As this vote shows, inaction is not an option, and now the legislative process can move forward as intended to produce a bill that lowers costs and increases options for all Americans," the statement said. "The Senate must now pass a bill and get it to my desk so we can finally end the Obamacare disaster once and for all."

The president also thanked McCain on Twitter for returning to D.C. "for such a vital vote."

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ABCNews.com(WASHINGTON) -- Members of the House Intelligence Committee investigating Russia election interference questioned White House senior adviser Jared Kushner today on Capitol Hill for more than three hours on Tuesday.

Kushner, who was under oath, answered questions from Republicans and Democrats about his meetings with Russian officials during the presidential campaign.

"What he said publicly is the same things he said to us," Rep. Tom Rooney, R-Florida, one of the Republicans leading the investigation, said Tuesday. "It was very conversational. Probably one of the easier interviews that we’ve done."

On Monday, following an interview with the Senate Intelligence Committee, Kushner denied collaborating with Russia to influence the presidential election.

"The record and documents I have voluntarily provided will show that all of my actions were proper," Kushner, the president's son-in-law, said in a statement outside the White House Monday after his closed-door interview with the Senate Intelligence Committee.

"I did not collude with Russia, nor do I know of anyone else in the campaign who did so," he said. "I had no improper contacts. I have not relied on Russian funds for my businesses."

He also released an 11-page statement denying collusion Monday morning.

Rooney and Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-South Carolina, led questioning for Republicans in Tuesday's session, while Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., did the same for Democrats.

"He expressed, and his counsel, receptivity to come back for further questions, but it was a very productive session," Schiff told reporters after the interview. The California representative has not ruled out inviting Kushner back to Capitol Hill.

Members seemed pleased with Kushner's cooperation after the session.

"We found him to be straightforward, forthcoming," said Rep. Mike Conaway, R-Texas.

"He was cooperative," said. Rep. Jim Himes, D-Conn.

Kushner did not respond to questions about his willingness to testify publicly as he left the Capitol Tuesday.

Rooney, a former prosecutor, said he was "very impressed" by Kushner.

"I can understand why the president has so much faith in him, because he’s an extremely impressive guy," he said. "I actually felt good about the fact that he was working in the White House, that somebody like that is helping the president make his decisions."

The president also thanked McCain on Twitter for returning to D.C. "for such a vital vote."

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ABCNews.com(WASHINGTON) -- New White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci likened the tension between President Trump and Attorney General Sessions to a divorce.

When you start not liking each other, Scaramucci told ABC News on Tuesday, “You either reconcile or you separate.”

“They need to either get together or separate,” he said of the president and the nation's top law enforcement official.

When asked when they will get together, Scaramucci replied, “I don’t know if they will."

The president has been vocal in criticizing Sessions on Twitter in recent days, calling him "beleaguered" and accusing him of being "very weak" on Hillary Clinton's "crimes" and "leakers."

While Sessions was one of the president's earliest and most loyal campaign supporters on Capitol Hill, the president has grown increasingly frustrated with his attorney general over his decision to recuse himself from the Russia inquiry, a decision that infuriated the president and led Sessions to then offer his resignation to the president. The president rejected Sessions' offer at the time.

But since the president has taken to publicly rebuking his attorney general in recent days, Sessions has only signaled resolve to stay on in his post as attorney general.

At a news conference last week, Sessions said he plans to continue in the job "so as long as that is appropriate.".

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ABCNews.com(WASHINGTON) -- President Donald Trump is hailing Sen. John McCain as an "American hero" as the Arizona senator, under treatment for a brain tumor, returns to the Capitol for a vote on the Republican health care bill.

So great that John McCain is coming back to vote. Brave - American hero! Thank you John.

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 25, 2017

But during the presidential campaign, then-candidate Trump denigrated the war record of McCain, who served many years in the U.S. Navy and who during the Vietnam War was captured by the North Vietnamese, held as a prisoner of war and tortured.

"He's not a war hero," Trump said of the Republican senator at the 2015 Family Leadership Summit in Iowa. "He's a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren’t captured."

Now Trump is saluting McCain for returning to Washington, D.C., for the vote to start debate on the GOP Senate leadership's health care legislation.

"So great that John McCain is coming back to vote. Brave - American hero!" Trump tweeted. "Thank you John."

The president also wished the senator well last week during a White House event when news broke of his diagnosis.

“I can tell you, we hope John McCain gets better very soon because we miss him. He's a crusty voice in Washington, plus we need his vote," Trump said of the 80-year-old McCain, who has served in the Senate for about three decades.

Trump's comments in 2015 were not the first time he questioned whether McCain was a military hero.

In January 2000, when McCain was the GOP nominee for president, Trump told NBC News in an interview, “You would say that maybe he wasn’t an actual war hero. He was captured, but maybe not a war hero."

McCain, who has in the past gone against his party's thinking, has also been critical of Trump.

During the 2016 election, McCain revoked his endorsement Trump for president following the release of a 2005 recording in which Trump can be heard making lewd comments about women.

Last Thursday, while the Arizona senator was at home recovering from surgery, his Senate office issued a statement quoting McCain criticizing the Trump administration after The Washington Post reported that Trump had ended a covert CIA program aiding rebels fighting against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

"If these reports are true, the administration is playing right into the hands of Vladimir Putin. Making any concession to Russia, absent a broader strategy for Syria, is irresponsible and short-sighted," the statement said.

During an event in May, following Trump's firing of FBI Director James Comey, McCain said the saga involving the president and Comey "is reaching the point where it's of Watergate size and scale."

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Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort has been issued a subpoena compelling him to participate in a hearing about Russian interference in the election.

"While we were willing to accommodate Mr. Manafort’s request to cooperate with the committee’s investigation without appearing at Wednesday’s hearing, we were unable to reach an agreement for a voluntary transcribed interview with the Judiciary Committee," according to a joint statement from Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., the ranking member of the committee.

"Mr. Manafort, through his attorney, said that he would be willing to provide only a single transcribed interview to Congress, which would not be available to the Judiciary Committee members or staff. While the Judiciary Committee was willing to cooperate on equal terms with any other committee to accommodate Mr. Manafort’s request, ultimately that was not possible," the statement said.

It continued, "Therefore, yesterday evening, a subpoena was issued to compel Mr. Manafort’s participation in Wednesday’s hearing. As with other witnesses, we may be willing to excuse him from Wednesday’s hearing if he would be willing to agree to production of documents and a transcribed interview, with the understanding that the interview would not constitute a waiver of his rights or prejudice the committee’s right to compel his testimony in the future."

Manafort, 68, joined the Trump campaign on March 29, 2016, when he was named campaign convention manager for the mid-July festivities in Cleveland.

Manafort was "volunteering his considerable insight and expertise because of his belief that Mr. Trump is the right person for these difficult times," a news release from the Trump campaign said at the time.

Manafort, who was initially hired to wrangle delegates, organized and directed the Republican National Convention, which was held in Cleveland, Ohio, from July 19-21.

Manafort's departure from the campaign came on Aug. 19, the day after The Associated Press reported that Manafort's firm had lobbied in the United States on behalf of the ruling Ukrainian political party even though Manafort did not disclose his work as a foreign agent, as mandated by federal law.

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The White House(WASHINGTON) -- President Donald Trump continued his public criticism of Attorney General Jeff Sessions as part of a series of early-morning tweets, calling his appointed head of the Justice Department "very weak" on "Hillary Clinton crimes."


Attorney General Jeff Sessions has taken a VERY weak position on Hillary Clinton crimes (where are E-mails & DNC server) & Intel leakers!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 25, 2017

The president also returned to his theme of dismissing the investigation into Russia's interference in the 2016 election and possible ties to Trump associates as a "witch hunt."


Jared Kushner did very well yesterday in proving he did not collude with the Russians. Witch Hunt. Next up, 11 year old Barron Trump!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 25, 2017

And Trump tweeted about the planned vote in the Senate today on the GOP health care bill. He slammed Obamacare and applauded Arizona Sen. John McCain for his expected return to the chamber for the vote.



So great that John McCain is coming back to vote. Brave - American hero! Thank you John.

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 25, 2017



ObamaCare is torturing the American People.The Democrats have fooled the people long enough. Repeal or Repeal & Replace! I have pen in hand.

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 25, 2017



Big day for HealthCare. After 7 years of talking, we will soon see whether or not Republicans are willing to step up to the plate!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 25, 2017


Tuesday morning's tweet critical of Sessions continued a recent pattern by Trump.

Trump called his attorney general “beleaguered” Monday.

In an interview with The New York Times on Wednesday, Trump said he wouldn’t have appointed Sessions attorney general if he had known Sessions would recuse himself from the Russian investigation.

“How do you take a job and then recuse yourself?” Trump told The New York Times. “If he would have recused himself before the job, I would have said, ‘Thanks, Jeff, but I can’t, you know, I’m not going to take you.’

Trump said that Sessions’ recusal was “extremely unfair, and that’s a mild word, to the president.”

Despite the public criticism from the president, Sessions said last week he plans to stay on as attorney general, “as long as that is appropriate.”

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ABCNews.com(WASHINGTON) -- President Trump is facing a stark foreign policy choice: Sign off on punishing new sanctions against Russia for its interference in the 2016 presidential election or veto a rare bipartisan piece of legislation that would hurt his push for better relations with Russia.

Over the weekend, Congress reached an agreement on a bill to slap Russia, Iran, and North Korea with new sanctions while removing President Trump’s ability to alter them without Congressional approval. The House is set to vote on the bill Tuesday.

The legislation requires the executive branch to get a resolution of approval for any changes to sanctions -- a significant constriction on the president’s powers by his own party in Congress.

The White House has expressed reservations about that aspect of the bill after the Senate passed similar legislation last month. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told Congress that the White House wanted the “flexibility” to deal with Russia, and White House legislative director Marc Short expressed opposition to the “unusual precedent of delegating foreign policy to 535 members of Congress.”

There were also concerns among Republicans and in the oil and gas industry over a rule in the Senate bill that would bar American companies and individuals from working with Russian-sanctioned companies and individuals on big oil and gas projects.

The compromise for the two parties and the two chambers is to combine the Russian, Iranian, and North Korean sanctions into one bill, with moderate technical changes.

The bill would set into law Russian sanctions imposed by the Obama administration for Russia’s cyber-attack on the Democratic Party and interference in the election, including the end of Russia’s access to two diplomatic compounds in the U.S. -- one of which they are said to have used for espionage. It would also add penalties for Russian interference in Ukraine, Syria and the 2016 election hack.

The Trump administration would also be barred from making any changes to those sanctions or any others without Congressional approval. They can apply for waivers, including if Russia makes progress on implementing the peace deal in Ukraine known as the Minsk agreement.

American businesses could also work with Russian entities on certain oil and gas projects outside of Russia as long as they don’t involve a sanctioned Russian individual or company owning a 33 percent stake or more.

While the bill would require Congressional approval on any changes, it does also give the President the ability to ask Congress to lift some of them if the White House can certify that certain conditions have been met -- like Russian progress on the Minsk agreement or “significant” Russian efforts to “reduce the number and intensity of [its] cyber intrusions.” Like other sanctions, it also defers to the administration to designate new individuals and entities that are violating them and should be added.

The bill also includes new sanctions against Iran for its ballistic missile program and human rights violations, as well as on North Korea targeting its shipping industry and its use of forced labor abroad -- two major sources of income for its missile and nuclear programs. It also requires the administration to report to Congress on the ties between Iran and North Korea and whether North Korea should be re-listed as a state sponsor of terrorism within 90 days.

The resolution comes weeks after the Senate overwhelmingly passed a similar bill that codified existing sanctions against Russia and introduced some new ones against it and Iran in a 98-2 vote.

That legislation got stuck in the House, with lawmakers squabbling over technical details and pointing fingers between the two parties. The House had also voted nearly unanimously in May for North Korea sanctions, and Republican leadership wanted the Senate to take up that package.

The compromise isn’t a done deal, with Sen. Bob Corker, the Republican chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, telling Reuters Monday night, “We still have a little work to do.”

But elsewhere, there was bipartisan praise for an agreement that strongly rebukes Trump over his praise for Russian president Vladimir Putin, his calls for the U.S. and Russia to work together and his skepticism of the U.S. intelligence community’s finding that Russia interfered in the election.

“North Korea, Iran, and Russia have in different ways all threatened their neighbors and actively sought to undermine American interests,” House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-California, and House Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Ed Royce, R-California, said in a joint statement, noting that the bill will “now exclusively focus on these nations and hold them accountable for their dangerous actions.”

“A nearly united Congress is poised to send President Putin a clear message on behalf of the American people and our allies, and we need President Trump to help us deliver that message,” said Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Maryland, the ranking member on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

It’s unclear if Trump will do that, with the White House sending mixed signals on its view of the legislation.

After initially telling ABC’s George Stephanopoulos on “This Week” that the President supports the bill, White House Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Sanders told reporters Monday that Trump “wants to make sure we get the best deal for the American people ... He’s gonna study that legislation and see what the final product looks like.”

But given the overwhelming majorities that approved the sanctions in Congress and the intense scrutiny over Trump’s ties to Russia, the president could face a public backlash if he vetoes the final bill -- and doing so could lead to an embarrassing override by Congress.

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ABCNews.com(WASHINGTON) -- President Donald Trump was critical of Senate Republicans for their work -- or lack thereof -- on health care reform during remarks at the White House on Monday.

"So far Senate Republicans have not done their job in ending the Obamacare nightmare. They now have a chance, however, to hopefully, hopefully fix what has been so badly broken for such a long time. And that is through replacement of a horrible disaster known as Obamacare," Trump said Monday.

"Any senator who votes against starting debate is telling America that you are fine with the Obamacare nightmare, which is what it is," he said while standing in front of a group of Americans the White House referred to as "victims of Obamacare."

"For Senate Republicans, this is their chance to keep their promise," he added.

He went on to say the Senate "is very close to the votes it needs to pass a replacement," though there do not appear to be enough votes to pass a motion to proceed to a vote on a repeal without having a replacement plan in place.

The latest whip count had at least three Republican senators against a repeal of Obamacare without a replacement plan in place. In addition to those votes, Senate Republicans are down a vote while Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., is recovering from recent surgery during which doctors discovered a brain tumor. There can only be two Republican "no" votes for any vote to pass.

During his remarks, Trump then moved on to placing some blame for the failure to come up with a replacement health care bill on the Democrats.

"The problem is we have zero help from the Democrats they're obstructionists. That's all they are good at, obstructionism. Making things not work," he said.

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Win McNamee/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Following the announcement last week that he has brain cancer, Senator John McCain, R-Arizona, is set to return to the U.S. Senate on Tuesday, according to a statement from his office.

“Senator McCain looks forward to returning to the United States Senate tomorrow to continue working on important legislation, including health care reform, the National Defense Authorization Act, and new sanctions on Russia, Iran and North Korea,” said the statement released Monday night.

The Arizona senator's office and the Mayo Clinic Hospital in Phoenix announced Wednesday night that McCain had surgery on July 14 to remove a blood clot above his left eye.

"Subsequent tissue pathology revealed that a primary brain tumor known as a glioblastoma was associated with the blood clot," the hospital said in a statement.

According to the hospital, McCain and his family are reviewing further treatment options, which may include a combination of chemotherapy and radiation.

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Win McNamee/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions' meetings with the Russian ambassador during the campaign continue to cause problems for him months after they were disclosed publicly.

Recent comments by President Donald Trump suggest that Sessions’ recusal created a strain between the two men, and although Trump made his feelings known in a candid interview, Sessions responded last week by saying that he intends to stay on at the Department of Justice.

This is far from the first time Sessions' contact with the Russia ambassador while he was part of the 2016 campaign has affected his standing.

Here is a rundown of what is known about Sessions' involvement with the Trump campaign, the timing of his meetings with the Russian ambassador to the United States and several other key instances where members of Trump's inner circle have been publicly questioned about their connections with Russian officials.

Feb. 28, 2016: Sessions becomes the first sitting U.S. senator to endorse Trump’s presidential bid.

March 3, 2016: The Trump team named Sessions as the chairman of his National Security Advisory Committee. In the statement announcing the appointment, Trump said it is "an honor" to have Sessions on the team, and Sessions detailed how he could help.

"I am grateful for the opportunity to recommend and facilitate discussions among exceptional and experienced American military and diplomatic leaders to share insight and advice with Donald Trump, regardless of their political views," Sessions said in that statement.

Mid-July, 2016, on the sidelines of the RNC: Sessions spoke at an event hosted by the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank, held during the Republican National Convention. After his speech, Sessions spoke to a small group of ambassadors after giving a speech and Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak was among them.

A DOJ official told ABC News that this second interaction was a brief encounter after a public event attended by a number of ambassadors.

Aug. 19, 2016: Trump's then-campaign chairman Paul Manafort resigned following the hiring of new leadership and reports questioning Manafort’s ties to Russia. Ukrainian officials said that Manafort's name appears in "black accounts" linked to the country's former pro-Russian president.

Sept. 8, 2016: Sessions meets with ambassador Kislyak in Sessions’ office in Washington.

A DOJ official emphasized to ABC News that this meeting with the Russian ambassador was listed publicly and attended by staff.

Spokeswoman Sarah Isgur Flores released a statement noting that Sessions’ meeting with Kislyak was one of many that he held in his capacity as 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. 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," Flores said.

The focus of the various meetings that Sessions had with the ambassadors would not be about the election, but sometimes the ambassadors would make superficial comments about the election, a DOJ official said.

Nov. 8, 2016: Trump wins the election.

Nov. 18, 2016: Sessions announced as Trump’s pick for U.S. attorney general.

Jan. 10, 2017: At the Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing, the topic of Russia came up when Sessions was questioned by Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn. Here is the relevant part of that exchange:

Franken: "If there is any evidence that anyone affiliated with the Trump campaign communicated with the Russian government in the course of this campaign, what will you do?"

Sessions: "Senator Franken, I'm not aware of any of those activities. I have been called a surrogate at a time or two in that campaign and I didn't have -- did not have communications with the Russians, and I'm unable to comment on it."

Jan. 20, 2017: Trump is sworn in as president.

Feb. 9, 2017: Sessions is sworn in as attorney general.

Feb. 13, 2017: Then-National Security Adviser Michael Flynn is asked to resign after it becomes public that there were discrepancies in his account of his interactions with Russian officials during the transition. He previously told Vice President Mike Pence that he had not discussed sanctions with Ambassador Kislyak during their calls after the election -- and Pence went on to say as much during televised interviews.

It was later revealed that the White House had been notified by the acting-attorney general that sanctions were discussed during the calls. Click here to see a full timeline of Flynn's saga.

Feb. 15, 2017: Sources familiar with the matter confirmed to ABC News that in the time leading up to the presidential election, U.S. authorities were looking into communications between several Trump associates and suspected Russian intelligence officials.

The New York Times first reported that according to several current and former U.S. officials, several Trump associates inside and outside the campaign -- including former campaign chairman Paul Manafort -- had repeated contact with senior Russian intelligence officials in the year before election.

Manafort told ABC News on Feb. 15 that the report published in the Times is "completely ridiculous."

"No, never, I never spoke to the Putin government and I never had any involvement with anything like this," Manafort said.

"I have never knowingly spoken to Russian intelligence officers, and I have never been involved with anything to do with the Russian government or the Putin administration or any other issues under investigation today," Manafort said.

March 1, 2017: News breaks that Sessions met with the Russian ambassador twice in 2016, which appears to contradict his statement during his confirmation hearing.

A White House official responded to ABC News, dismissing the claims as an attempt to deflect from Trump’s "successful" address to a joint session of Congress on Tuesday, Feb. 28.

"This is the latest attack against the Trump Administration by partisan Democrats. General Sessions met with the ambassador in an official capacity as a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, which is entirely consistent with his testimony. It's no surprise Senator Al Franken is pushing this story immediately following President Trump's successful address to the nation," the White House official said.

Democrats call for Sessions to resign. Among them is House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, who said that that Sessions "lied under oath."

March 2, 2017: Sessions speaks briefly to NBC and makes quick remarks about the ongoing situation.

"I have not met with any Russians at any time to discuss any political campaign and those remarks are unbelievable to me and false and I don't have anything else to say about that," he said as he was seen getting into a car.

When asked whether he would recuse himself from being involved in the DOJ’s investigation into Russian involvement in the election, Sessions said, "I've said that whenever it's appropriate I will recuse myself. There's no doubt about that."

In a statement released March 2, Sessions said he had met with "relevant senior career department officials" in the previous several weeks to discuss whether he should recuse himself and, "having concluded those meetings today, I have decided to recuse myself from any existing or future investigations of any matters related in any way to the campaigns for president of the United States."

Later that day, he held a news conference reiterating his decision.

He defended his earlier actions during the confirmation hearing, saying that his reply to Sen. Franken "was honest and correct as I understood it at the time."

"In the end, I have followed the right procedure, just as I promised the committee I would," Sessions said of the decision to recuse himself.

"A proper decision, I believe, has been reached," he said.

June 6, 2017: ABC News learns that Sessions had recently offered to resign as Trump continued to express frustration with the attorney general's decision to recuse himself from the election-tampering investigation.

During the day's White House press briefing, press secretary Sean Spicer, in response to questioning on whether Trump has confidence in Sessions, said, "I have not had that discussion with [President Trump]."

June 13, 2017: Sessions testified in front of the Senate Intelligence Committee, and issued a sweeping denial of any personal involvement in Russian interference in the 2016 presidential campaign.

"I have never met with, or had any conversation with, any Russians or any foreign officials concerning any type of interference with any campaign or election in the United States," Sessions told the Senate Intelligence Committee. "Further, I have no knowledge of any such conversations by anyone connected to the Trump campaign.”

The attorney general explained that he had met with "a senior ethics official" at the Justice Department in February as media reports emerged questioning his involvement in the investigation, given his role in Trump’s campaign. Sessions said from that moment, until the announcement of his recusal March 2, he "did not access any information about the investigation."

"I have no knowledge about this investigation as it is ongoing today beyond what has been publicly reported," said Sessions, who later explained that he never received a briefing or read the reports on the intelligence community's conclusion that there were attempts to meddle in the election.

Sessions said the move to step away from oversight of the probe was not because of his actions or meetings with the Russian ambassador; instead, he pointed to his position as chairman of the Trump campaign's national security committee.

"I recuse myself not because of any asserted wrongdoing or any belief that I may have been involved in any wrongdoing in the campaign, but because a Department of Justice regulation… required it," Sessions said. "That regulation states in effect that department employees should not participate in investigations either came pain if they served as a campaign adviser."

July 19, 2017: Trump had a sit-down interview with The New York Times, during which he launched into a blistering rebuke of Sessions and his decision to recuse himself from anything relating to presidential campaigns, including, most notably, the 2016 campaign.

"Sessions should have never recused himself, and if he was going to recuse himself, he should have told me before he took the job, and I would have picked somebody else," Trump said in the interview.

When asked whether Sessions gave the president a "heads up" before the recusal, Trump said: "Zero."

"So Jeff Sessions takes the job, gets into the job, recuses himself. I then have — which, frankly, I think is very unfair to the president. How do you take a job and then recuse yourself? If he would have recused himself before the job, I would have said, ‘Thanks, Jeff, but I can’t, you know, I’m not going to take you.’ It’s extremely unfair, and that’s a mild word, to the president. So he recuses himself. I then end up with a second man, who’s a deputy," Trump said, referring to Rod Rosenstein.

July 20, 2017: Asked for his reaction to Trump's comments, Sessions maintained that he will remain at his position "as long as that is appropriate."

"We in this Department of Justice will continue every single day to work hard to serve the national interest, and we wholeheartedly join in the priorities of President Trump," he said at a news conference.

"I have the honor of serving as attorney general, it's something that goes beyond any thought I would have ever had for myself. We love this job, we love this department, and I plan to continue to do so as long as that is appropriate," he said.

July 24, 2017 -- Trump calls Sessions "beleaguered"

Trump posted a tweet that included an apparent slight against Sessions, writing: "So why aren't the Committees and investigators, and of course our beleaguered A.G., looking into Crooked Hillarys crimes & Russia relations?"

So why aren't the Committees and investigators, and of course our beleaguered A.G., looking into Crooked Hillarys crimes & Russia relations?

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 24, 2017

Sessions did not immediately respond to the tweet.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


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YURI GRIPAS/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Jared Kushner, a White House senior adviser and the president's son-in-law, became the first Trump family member to appear on Capitol Hill as part of the Russia investigations after he met with the Senate Intelligence Committee on Monday for a closed-door interview.

Kushner was expected to be asked about his four meetings with Russian officials during the campaign and transition - including the meeting he and Donald Trump Jr. had with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya at Trump Tower in June 2016.

Read his 11-page statement released Monday morning ahead of his scheduled meeting.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


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