Jeff Sessions
Attorney General Jeff Sessions speaks at a news conference at the Justice Department in Washington, D.C., March 2, 2017. Reuters

Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself Thursday from an investigation into contacts between the campaign of President Donald Trump and Russian officials.

Sessions held a press conference Thursday addressing revelations that he held discussions with Russia's ambassador during the 2016 election campaign.

Earlier in the day, President Donald Trump was asked whether Sessions should recuse himself from overseeing an investigation into contacts between the Trump campaign and Russian officials. “I don’t think so,” Trump responded while touring the U.S.S. Gerald R. Ford, the newest American aircraft carrier. He added that he had “total” confidence in Sessions, saying he “wasn’t aware” the former senator from Alabama had held discussions with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak.

But Republicans, including House Oversight Committee Chairman Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), began Thursday joining Democrats in calling for Sessions to recuse himself.

During his Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing, Sessions was asked by Sen. Al Franken what he would do if he learned that anyone from Trump’s campaign had communicated with Russian officials during the campaign.

“I’m not aware of any of those activities,” he responded. “I have been called a surrogate at a time or two in that campaign and I did not have communications with the Russians.”

Here are the key quotes from the press conference:

1. He insists he held no conversations about the campaign
"Let me be clear, I never had meetings with Russian operatives or Russian intermediaries about the Trump campaign."

2. Sessions claims he did not lie under oath
"My reply to the question of Sen. Franken was honest and correct as I understood it at the time."

3. He is recusing himself, but not because of the revelations
"[My staff] said that since I had involvement with the campaign I should not be involved with any campaign investigation. I believe those recommendations are right and just. There I have recused myself in the matters that deal with the Trump campaign."

4. He discussed everything but the election with Russia's ambassador
"Well, it was just normal things. We listened to the ambassador, what his concerns might be. We talked a little bit about terrorism I recall, and somehow the subject of Ukraine came up. I don’t recall any specific political discussions.”

5. He admits he should have given a different answer at his confirmation hearing
"I should have slowed down, and said, 'But I did meet one Russian official a couple of times, that would be the Ambassador.'"

6. He can't recall if he met with any other Russian officials during the campaign
"I don’t recall many. It’s possible. I'm on the Armed Services Committee but I don’t recall."