Sessions’ initial denial could be legally problematic if it is contradicted by staffers at the meeting or by other evidence, such as intercepts of Russian reports on what was said, attorneys said.

One unpleasant parallel for Sessions comes from the prolonged confirmation hearings of Attorney General Richard Kleindienst in 1972.

During those hearings, Kleindienst denied that he’d received instructions from anyone at the White House about how to handle a high-profile antitrust investigation into ITT Corp.

“I was not interfered with by anybody at the White House,” he said repeatedly.

A year later, tapes emerged of President Richard Nixon himself instructing Kleindienst to drop the case.