U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) called Attorney General Jeff Sessions a man of integrity Thursday and said he doesn't believe Sessions was trying to mislead anyone about his meetings with the Russian ambassador to the United States.
Sessions announced Thursday afternoon that he would recuse himself from an investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election. His action followed revelations he twice met with the Russian ambassador and didn't say so when pressed by Congress.
Sessions rejected any suggestion that he tried to mislead anyone about his contacts with the Russian, saying, "That is not my intent. That is not correct."
Cruz said Sessions is a "man of honesty" and simply misspoke about the meetings that took place last year while Sessions was a senator from Alabama.
"I think most of the noise today is political theater. The underlying meeting that Jeff Sessions, the sitting senator, met with the Russian ambassador, that meeting is unexceptional and ordinary – something senators do every day," Cruz said.
Sessions served alongside Cruz on the Senate Armed Services Committee.
"I took a look at my calendar in January and February; I met with six ambassadors," Cruz said. "If you are doing your job as a senator, you are meeting with ambassadors, you are meeting with foreign leaders, especially if you are on the Armed Services Committee."
Cruz said he did not meet with the Russian ambassador, however. Twenty of the 26 members of the Armed Services Committee say they did not meet with the Russian ambassador.
And Sessions did not say he did when asked about communications with Russian officials during his confirmation hearing for attorney general.
"Sen. Sessions answered to a question from Sen. Franken what was less than clear, and he misspoke and did not answer as clearly as he should, and that was unfortunate," Cruz said.
Cruz said late Thursday that with Sessions' recusal, though not legally mandated, he can put this issue behind him.
But some Democrats do not feel the same, calling for Sessions to resign.