GOP's Kevin McCarthy, Jason Chaffetz say Attorney General Sessions should recuse himself from Russia investigations

Two leading Republican lawmakers on Thursday said they believe Attorney General Jeff Sessions should recuse himself from Justice Department and FBI investigations on whether Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election.

Both House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy and House Oversight and Government Reform committee chairman Jason Chaffetz spoke out on Thursday, after the Washington Post reported late on Wednesday that then-Sen. Sessions spoke last year with Russia's ambassador to the United States -- encounters he did not disclose, during his confirmation hearing, when he stated under oath that he had not met with any Russian officials.

McCarthy appeared Thursday morning on MSNBC, saying Sessions should bow in order to maintain "the trust of the American people."

RELATED: Jeff Sessions through the years

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Jeff Sessions through the years

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions pauses at a news conference at the Justice Department in Washington, U.S., March 2, 2017.

(REUTERS/Yuri Gripas)

Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama arrives at Trump Tower for meetings with President-elect Donald Trump works from home November 15, 2016. Making the vital choices for President-elect Donald Trump's White House cabinet has sparked intense infighting, CNN reported Monday, with one source calling it a 'knife fight.' The jobs to be filled include national security positions and West Wing posts, the television news network said, as Trump gathered with transition team members in New York.

(TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)

President-elect Donald Trump greets Senator Jeff Sessions, Trump's picks for attorney general, during a thank you rally in Ladd-Peebles Stadium on December 17, 2016 in Mobile, Alabama. President-elect Trump has been visiting several states that he won, to thank people for their support during the U.S. election.

(Photo by Mark Wallheiser/Getty Images)

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., right, and Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., nominee for attorney general, talk near the Ohio Clock after a meeting in the Capitol, November 30, 2016.

(Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Attorney General-designate, Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., speaks during a 'USA Thank You Tour 2016' event at the LaddPeebles Stadium in Mobile, AL on Saturday, Dec. 17, 2016.

(Photo by Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

Senator Jeff Sessions, attorney general pick for U.S. President-elect Donald Trump, right, listens as Senator Charles 'Chuck' Grassley, a Republican from Iowa, speaks during a meeting in Washington, D.C., U.S, on Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2016. Sessions, the 69-year-old, four-term Alabama Republican is a hard-liner on free trade and immigration, arguing that prospective immigrants don't have constitutional protections.

(Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

US President-elect Donald Trump (C) talks with Alabama Governor Robert Bentley (2nd L) and US Attorney General nominee Jeff Sessions (L) as he arrives in Mobile, Alabama, for a 'Thank You Tour 2016' rally on December 17, 2016.

(JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)

Mike Pence, 2016 Republican vice presidential nominee, left, and Senator Jeff Sessions, a Republican from Alabama, gesture during a campaign event for Donald Trump, 2016 Republican presidential nominee, not pictured, in Phoenix, Arizona, U.S., on Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2016. Trump returned to form in Phoenix Wednesday night with a nativist immigration plan definitively ruling out legal status for undocumented immigrants, as well as proposing to build a wall on the southern border of the United States and forcing Mexico to cover the cost.

(Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

MADISON, AL - FEBRUARY 28: United States Senator Jeff Sessions, R-Alabama, beomes the first Senator to endorse Donald Trump for President of the United States at Madison City Stadium on February 28, 2016 in Madison, Alabama.

(Photo by Taylor Hill/WireImage)

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT)(L) speaks during a Senate Budget Committee hearing on Capitol Hill, February 3, 2015 in Washington, DC. The committee is hearing testimony Office of Management and Budget Director Shaun Donovan on President Obamas FY2016 budget request. Also pitcured are (L-R), Chairman Michael Enzi (R-WY), Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), Sen. Mike Crapo (R-ID), Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), and Sen. Rob Poertman (R-OH).

(Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) (2nd L) speaks as Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) (L), and Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) (R) listen during a news conference September 9, 2014 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. The legislators discussed on immigration reform during the news conference.

(Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

House Budget Chairman, Paul Ryan, R-Wis., Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-AL., and members of the House Budget Committee during the House Budget Committee's news conference on the 'Introduction of the FY2013 Budget - Pathway to Prosperity.'

(Photo By Douglas Graham/Roll Call)

Sens. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., left, and Mike Lee, R-Utah, leave the Capitol en route to a news conference to oppose the immigration reform bill in the Senate.

(Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli performs during the National Prayer Breakfast as First Lady Michelle Obama (L), US President Barack Obama (2nd L) and Senator Jeff Sessions (3rd L), R-AL, watch on February 7, 2013 at a hotel in Washington, DC.

(MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)

Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-AL., talks with Sen. Patty Murray, D-WA., as they make their way to the Senate policy luncheons through the Senate subway in the U.S. Capitol on September 17, 2013.

(Photo By Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call)

Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., is interviewed by the press during the weekly Senate policy luncheons. The Senate vote will this afternoon on Obama's small-business tax relief legislation.

(Photo by Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call)

Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., speaks at the 'Iran Democratic Transition Conference,' hosted by the Institute of World Politics in Capitol Visitor Center. The conference explored the prospects of political change in Iran.

(Photo By Tom Williams/Roll Call)

US President Barack Obama (C) signs the Fair Sentencing Act in the Oval Office of the White House, on August 3, 2010 in Washington, DC. The law will aim to correct the disparities between crack and powder cocaine sentencing. Also in the picture (L to R); Attorney General Eric Holder, Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont, Democratic Representative Bobby Scott of Virginia, Democratic Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois, Republican Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama, Republican Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah and Democratic Representative Sheila Jackson-Lee of Texas. Previously, people in possession of powder cocaine could carry up to one hundred times more grams than crack offenders and receive the same sentence.

(Photo by Michael Reynolds-Pool/Getty Images)

U.S. Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan (L) shakes hands with Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) (R), ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, while Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) looks on, after she arrived for the first day of her confirmation hearings on Capitol Hill June 28, 2010 in Washington, DC. Kagan is U.S. President Barack Obama's second Supreme Court nominee since taking office.

(Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

The new co chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee Senator Jeff Sessions (D-AL) works in his office on Capitol Hill Tuesday morning May 02, 2009. Sen. Sessions speaks to Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) before visiting with US Supreme Court nominee Judge Sonia Sotomayor.

(The Washington Post via Getty Images)

US President Barack Obama (3rd-R) and Vice President Joe Biden (3rd-L) meet with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (2nd-R) ,D-NV, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (2nd-L),R-KY, Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Patrick Leahy (R) ,D-VT, and Senate Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Jeff Sessions (L),R-AL, about the upcoming Supreme Court nomination on May 13, 2009 at the White House in Washington, DC.  

(TIM SLOAN/AFP/Getty Images)

Committee Chairman Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) (R) listens as ranking member Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) (L) questions Supreme Court nominee Judge Sonia Sotomayor during the second day of her confirmation hearings July 14, 2009 in Washington, DC. Sotomayor faces a full day of questioning from Senators on the committee today. Sotomayor, an appeals court judge and U.S. President Barack Obama's first Supreme Court nominee, will become the first Hispanic justice on the Supreme Court if confirmed.

(Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

US President George W. Bush (L) listens as Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions (R) speaks during a Republican fundraiser for Sessions at the Arthur R. Outlaw Mobile Convention Center in Mobile, Alabama, 21 June 2007.

(SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)

US President George W. Bush (2R) waves as he stands with First Lady Laura Bush (R), Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions (2L) and his wife Mary (L) after a Republican fundraiser for Sessions at the Arthur R. Outlaw Mobile Convention Center in Mobile, Alabama, 21 June 2007.

(SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)

Baghdad, IRAQ: US Senators Ben Nelson, D-Nebraska, (L) and Jeff Sessions, R-Alabama, speak to the media after meeting Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki in Baghdad, 28 April 2007. Maliki told a delegation of visiting US lawmakers today that foreign powers should not try to influence the Iraqi political process. He also resisted calls for his Shiite-led government to rehabilitate former members of ousted Sunni dictator Saddam Hussein's regime. Maliki met a group of US congressmen shortly after their chamber voted for a law calling for a timetable for American troop withdrawal from Iraq.

(KHALID MOHAMMED/AFP/Getty Images)

U.S. Senator Jeff Sessions, R-AL, (C) speaks with the media as (L-R) U.S. Senator George Allen (R-VA), U.S. Representative David Dreier (R-CA) and U.S. Representative Paul Ryan (R-WI) listen at the White House after participating in a meeting with U.S. President George W. Bush on March 16, 2006 in Washington, DC. Senators from various states, including U.S. Senator John Kerry (D-MA), participated in a line item veto legislation meeting.

(Photo by Dennis Brack-Pool/Getty Images)

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., and Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., during a news conference after the Senate took a step Wednesday toward the 'security first' approach to immigration control promoted in the House, paving the way for action on legislation that would require construction of 700 miles of double-layered fencing along segments of the U.S. border with Mexico. Despite Democratic charges that Republicans were moving the bill (HR 6061) to score political points seven weeks before Election Day, the Senate voted 94-0 to limit debate on a motion to proceed to formal consideration of the measure. The bill (HR 6061), which would also authorize a 'virtual fence' of sensors, cameras, unmanned aerial vehicles and other surveillance technology along the entire southwest border, was passed by the House last week. Three more targeted border security and internal immigration enforcement measures are set for House action, possibly as early as Thursday. Frist supported an earlier Senate comprehensive bill that would offer a path to citizenship to millions of illegal immigrants. Sessions did not; he considers that aspect of the bill amnesty.

(Photo by Scott J. Ferrell/Congressional Quarterly/Getty Images)

U.S. Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC) (L), speaks with U.S. Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL) during a Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing for Alberto R. Gonzales January 6, 2005 in Washington, DC. U.S. President George W. Bush has nominated Gonzales to be the U.S. Attorney General.

(Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., in his office in the Russell Senate Office Building.

(Photo by Scott J. Ferrell/Congressional Quarterly/Getty Images)

Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., and Senator-elect Elizabeth Dole, R-N.C., talk in the Ohio Clock Corridor during the election meeting for Senate Republican leadership.

(Photo by Scott J. Ferrell/Congressional Quarterly/Getty Images)

Sen. Jeff Sessions at a hearing to examine 'President Clinton's Eleventh Hour Pardons.'

(Photo By Tom Williams/Roll Call/Getty Images)

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"I don't have all the information in front of me, I don't want to prejudge, but I just think for any investigation going forward, you want to make sure everybody trusts the investigation," McCarthy said. "I think it'd be easier from that standpoint" for Sessions to recuse himself.

McCarthy walked back that statement later on Fox & Friends, though, saying "I'm not calling on him to recuse himself," adding "it's amazing how people spin things so quickly."

Chaffetz echoed McCarthy minutes later, tweeting that "AG Sessions should clarify his testimony and recuse himself."

Sessions' encounters with Russian officials included two reported meetings with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak in 2016. Sessions spokeswoman Sarah Isgur Flores confirmed these details to NBC News on Thursday morning.

In addition to the two prominent GOP officials, Democratic leaders were quick to comment on the latest news out of President Trump's Cabinet. Both Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi issued demands for Sessions' immediate resignation in the aftermath of his hearing omission.

"Sessions is not fit to serve as the top law enforcement officer of our country and must resign," Pelosi said in her statement. "There must be an independent, bipartisan, outside commission to investigate the Trump political, personal and financial connections to the Russians."

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When asked whether he will recuse himself from any ongoing investigations, Sessions reiterated previous statements that he will remove himself from such processes "whenever it's appropriate."

"I have said whenever it's appropriate, I will recuse myself," he said. "There's no doubt about that."

"I have not met with any Russians at any time to discuss any political campaign," Sessions said, "and those remarks are unbelievable to me and are false. And I don't have anything else to say about that."

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RUSSIA'S GROWING INFLUENCE: Russian leader Vladimir Putin looks to position his nation as an alternate ally to countries such as the Philippines and Turkey who have been traditionally allied with the U.S.. Putin's Russia, accused of influencing the U.S. presidential election, could seek to cement their influence by providing support to other populists facing elections this year. REUTERS/Yuri Kochetkov/Pool

Source: Reuters 

SYRIA'S SHAKY PEACE: A truce deal brokered by Russia and Turkey faces challenges as clashes between rebel and government forces continue. A lasting peace deal could prove elusive as the large number of warring factions seek to protect their own interests and territories. REUTERS/Khalil Ashawi

Source: Reuters 

ISIS-INSPIRED ATTACKS CONTINUE: Following the highly orchestrated Islamic State attacks on Paris and Brussels, the world has witnessed a spate of attacks by individuals who appear to be inspired by the militant group, rather than in direct contact with them. 2017 looks set to see a continuation of these types of attacks as the year began with a mass shooting at a Turkish nightclub where the motive still remains unclear. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard 

Source: Reuters 

THE TRUMP BARGAIN: As President Trump takes office, the white working class that propelled him to the White House will be watching closely to see if he can bring back jobs as promised throughout the campaign. It remains to be seen if the divisive politics that characterized the bitter campaign will continue as Trump takes over the helm of a divided nation. REUTERS/Mike Segar

Source: Reuters 

MERKEL'S POLITICAL FUTURE IN JEOPARDY: German Chancellor Angela Merkel's support for accepting refugees risks costing her re-election when Germans go to the polls later in 2017. Following the Berlin Christmas market attack and in the run-up to the election, Merkel will continue to face demands to take a much tougher line on immigration and security. REUTERS/Hannibal Hanschke

Source: Reuters 

BREXIT IN REALITY: Britain will have to navigate how and when to trigger article 50 beginning the process to leave the European Union. How the decision affects immigration, trade and British citizens living in the EU member states should become clearer this year. REUTERS/Dylan Martinez

Source: Reuters 

VENEZUELA CRISIS DEEPENS: The oil-rich but cash-strapped nation faces a dire economic panorama of worsening food and medicine shortages as its socialist system continues to unravel. With few signs of financial relief on the horizon, President Nicolas Maduro faces escalating street protests as patience wears thin even among his supporters. REUTERS/Carlos Eduardo Ramirez

Source: Reuters 

RACE RELATIONS IN FOCUS: With the retrial of former police officer Michael Slager in the shooting death of Walter Scott slated for March, the Black Lives matter movement and other groups protesting racial injustice will be watching for a verdict. REUTERS/Jonathan Bachman

Source: Reuters 

MIGRANTS ON THE MEDITERRANEAN: As temperatures rise, the number of migrants making the dangerous crossing to Europe could increase again despite a record number of deaths of those traversing the Mediterranean in 2016. REUTERS/Yannis Behrakis

Source: Reuters 

PIPELINE DREAMS AND NIGHTMARES: The success of the Standing Rock protesters to halt the Dakota Access pipeline has set a precedent for how environmental groups could disrupt planned pipeline projects. REUTERS/Stephanie Keith

Source: Reuters 

CLIMATE CHANGE DISCORD: Top scientists say Trump's vow to pull the United States out of the Paris climate-warming accord would make it far harder to develop strategies to lessen the impact of global warming. Though temperatures in 2017 are expected to dip from the record highs of 2016, how the world views climate change and what to do about it will remain a hot topic. REUTERS/Alister Doyle

Source: Reuters 

RIGHT-WING RISING: France's National Front leader Marine Le Pen will likely compete in a presidential run-off election in May that will test whether her brand of populism resonates in a nation that has been hit with attacks on Paris and Nice. REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol

Source: Reuters 

RAQQA OFFENSIVE ESCALATES: An operation by a U.S.-backed alliance of Syrian armed groups' to retake the northern city of Raqqa, the de facto capital of Islamic State in Syria, looks set to continue in tandem with the offensive on the militant group's Iraq stronghold of Mosul. Trump's campaign promise of a secret plan to fight Islamic State will be forced into the spotlight. REUTERS/Rodi Said

Source: Reuters 

THE DOW'S CLIMB: U.S. stocks saw solid gains in 2016, buoyed by a post-election rally that fueled the Dow Jones Industrial Average to approach 20,000 points but whether the rally will contine in 2017 is up for debate. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

Source: Reuters 

A NEW ARMS RACE: With both Putin and Trump planning to modernize their nation's nuclear arsenal, the prospect of a looming arms race is back on the table. When asked to clarify a tweet on nuclear capabilities, Trump said "Let it be an arms race. We will outmatch them at every pass and outlast them all." REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

Source: Reuters 

DROUGHT THREATENS FAMINE: Charities have repeatedly warned about the threat of renewed famine as Somalia continues to be plagued by poor rains and conflict, as well as shortages of aid. REUTERS/Feisal Omar

Source: Reuters 

TURKEY'S MEDIA CRACKDOWN: Turkey now imprisons more journalists than any other nation following a crackdown in the wake of the nation's coup attempt, according to the CPJ. The extent of the crackdown has worried rights groups and many of Turkey's Western allies, who fear President Erdogan is using the emergency rule to eradicate dissent. REUTERS/Murad Sezer

Source: Reuters 

SNAPCHAT DEBUT: Snapchat filed for an initial public offering in 2016 putting the messaging app a step closer to the biggest U.S. stock market debut since 2014. The Venice, California-based company could go public as soon as March and be valued at $20 billion to $25 billion, making it the largest IPO since Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

Source: Reuters 

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