WASHINGTON -- Georgia U.S. Sen. David Perdue offered a full-throated defense of Attorney General Jeff Sessions Thursday following reports that the former Alabama senator may have misled his onetime colleagues about meeting with the Russian ambassador.
“He’s a man of integrity. He is a man of principle. I trust him and I take him at his word,” Perdue said in a speech on the Senate floor.
Perdue, a Republican, said Democrats were being hypocritical for lambasting Sessions on meeting with Moscow officials. He said 30 of his colleagues have also met with the Russian ambassador, and specifically called out Missouri Democrat Claire McCaskill, who faced blowback about her own contact with the Kremlin official earlier Thursday.
“We have literally reached a point where members of this body are slandering former colleagues for having and taking the same opportunities afforded to them,” Perdue said.
Perdue’s remarks came hours before Sessions announced plans to recuse himself from a federal investigation into Russia’s alleged meddling in the 2016 presidential election.
Johnny Isakson, Georgia’s senior senator, said he respected Sessions’ decision.
“I continue to support a thorough congressional inquiry by the Senate’s Intelligence Committee to investigate the Russian cyberattacks that were carried out against American political institutions and to consider how to prevent similar attacks in the future,” the Republican said in a statement.
Many Democrats, including Rev. Raphael G. Warnock of Atlanta's Ebenezer Baptist Church, have called on Sessions to resign.