Sessions faced mounting pressure from both Democrats and Republicans to step aside after revelations that he had twice talked with Moscow’s U.S. envoy during the presidential campaign.
Sessions’ conversations with the ambassador seem to contradict his sworn statements to Congress during his confirmation hearings. Sessions says he didn’t lie when he testified during his confirmation hearing that he had no interaction with Russians during the 2016 election campaign.
The Justice Department said there was nothing improper about the meetings.
Sessions insisted he never met with Russian officials to discuss the campaign; on Thursday he continued to draw a distinction between his conversations with the Russian ambassador in his role as a senator and his role in the Trump campaign.
Sessions said this week he would recuse himself when appropriate.
WATCH: Sessions says Russian meeting was ‘hyped’ and ‘unfair’
Sessions took to conservative U.S. television Thursday evening, to talk about his decision.
“The reason I believed I should recuse myself is because I was involved in the campaign. To a degree I think it would have been perceived is that I wouldn’t be objective in participating in an investigation that might involve the campaign. I do not confirm or deny any investigation I just felt like I should clear the air,” Sessions said, appearing FOX News Channel’s Tucker Carlson Tonight programme.
While acknowledging that he would correct the record, and inform a Senate committee about his interaction with the Russian ambassador, Session said the controversy was “hyped” and “unfair.”
“I don’t think what was said about that meeting I had with the Russian ambassador was legitimate. I think it was hyped beyond reason, and I think it was unfair.”
When attorneys general have recused themselves in the past, investigations were handled by lower-ranking but still senior political-appointees within the Justice Department.
Deputy Attorney General Dana Boente will handle any matters related to the investigation.
*With files from Reuters