Sen. Joe Manchin (D., W.Va.) told CNN's Alisyn Camerota on Thursday that he has met with the Russian ambassador to the U.S. because senators try to meet with all ambassadors to forge relationships with them.
Camerota asked Manchin if he has met Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak.
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"Have you met with the Russian ambassador in your capacity?" she asked.
Manchin said that he not only met with the ambassador, but did so with a group of senators.
"I have," Manchin said. "I have met with the Russian ambassador with a group in my capacity, with a group of other senators."
He explained that lawmakers try to meet with all foreign ambassadors in Washington at some point to try to build relationships with them and discuss pertinent issues.
"Yes, that happens," he said. "We meet with all the ambassadors, or try to anyway, to build the relationships that you can to have some [inaudible] whatsoever, and that we can basically talk and have some type of interactions back and forth and know where in the world people are coming from."
He stressed that meeting with ambassadors is "not unusual."
"So, that's not unusual," Manchin said. "That's not unusual."
Manchin's comments came as reports surfaced that Attorney General Jeff Sessions met twice with the Russian ambassador last year as a senator. Democrats have criticized Sessions for not disclosing that information during his confirmation hearing, with some calling for his resignation.