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Former Officials on AG Sessions: ‘Recusal Should Be No Brainer’

Former White House officials are weighing in on whether Attorney General Jeff Sessions should recuse himself from investigations into the alleged Russian meddling in last year's election.

Related: Trump's Russia Crisis: A Timeline

The calls intensified for Sessions to respond — and even resign after just three weeks on the job — after it was revealed Wednesday that he failed to disclose during his attorney general confirmation hearing in January the contact he had with Russians while as a Trump campaign surrogate.

On the Record: Sessions on Russia 0:57

Sessions told NBC News earlier Thursday that he would only recuse himself "whenever it's appropriate."

But that's not good enough for some.

Richard Painter, who served as chief White House ethics lawyer for President George W. Bush from 2005 to 2007, warned in a tweet that "misleading the Senate in sworn testimony" is "a good way to go to jail."

He said in a subsequent tweet that it's "not OK" to mislead Congress.

John Dean, President Richard Nixon's former counsel who testified in the Watergate scandal, had advice for President Donald Trump, whose campaign is accused of having alleged ties to Moscow.

Related: Here's the List of Lawmakers Calling for Sessions' Recusal, Resignation

"Hey Donald, a tip: Cover-ups don't get easier as they proceed," Dean tweeted. "Russia tie leaks drown your joint session speech in less than 24 hrs."

White House spokesman Sean Spicer defended Sessions as being "100 percent straight" during his confirmation hearing and Democrats are "continuing to push a false narrative for political purposes."

Sessions' spokeswoman clarified Wednesday that Sessions had a private meeting with the Russian ambassador before the election — but in his capacity as a senator on the Armed Services Committee, not as a Trump surrogate.

A former Sessions staffer, however, is among the people taking the attorney general to task.

His "recusal should be no brainer for him," tweeted Hunter Walton, who the legislative counsel for Sessions from March 2011 to February 2012.

Michael McFaul, who was the U.S. ambassador to Russia under former President Barack Obama, questioned how Sessions couldn't remember any conversations with the Russian ambassador, Sergey Kislyak, last year.

McFaul said that while "it is not illegal and nor should it be illegal for Americans to meet with Russians," what was discussed between Sessions and Kislyak is important — and worth knowing about.