US Attorney General Jeff Sessions came under fire late on Wednesday after the Washington Post reported he failed to disclose two meetings he had with Russia's ambassador before Donald Trump was inaugurated as president.
The White House quickly labelled the report an attack by partisan Democrats, confirming the meetings but arguing Sessions did nothing wrong.
In a statement Sessions said, "I never met with any Russian officials to discuss issues of the campaign. I have no idea what this allegation is about. It is false."
But Democrats were quick to demand his resignation, with US House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi saying, "Sessions is not fit to serve as the top law enforcement officer of our country and must resign."
TRT World’s Kate Fisher has more details from Washington.
Fresh calls for inquiry?
Pelosi also called for an independent, bipartisan investigation into Trump's possible ties to Russians.
Citing Justice Department officials, the Washington Post said Sessions spoke twice last year with Russia's ambassador while he was still a US senator.
He failed to disclose the encounters when asked during his confirmation hearing to become attorney general about possible contacts between Trump's campaign and Russian officials, the newspaper said.
It said the previously undisclosed discussions could fuel new congressional calls for the appointment of a special counsel to investigate Russia's alleged role in the 2016 presidential election.
As attorney general, Sessions oversees the Justice Department, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation, which have been leading investigations into Russian meddling and any links to Trump's associates.
When Sessions spoke with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak in July and September, he was a senior member of the influential Senate Armed Services Committee, as well as one of Trump’s top foreign policy advisers, according to the Washington Post.
Trump's first national security adviser, Michael Flynn, was fired last month after he discussed US sanctions on Russia with Kislyak before Trump took office and misled Vice President Mike Pence about the conversations.