Russia's ambassador to Washington discussed Russian issues with Jeff Sessions during the White House campaign last year, although the attorney general has said in the past no such conversations happened, the Washington Post reported Friday.

The news organization based its report on communications with current and former U.S. officials.

Ambassador Sergey Kislyak had two conversations with Sessions that were intercepted by U.S. spy agencies, the Post reported. Sessions initially denied the conversations with Kislyak and later said the meetings were not about the presidential campaign, according to the Post.

One official told the news organization that Sessions has provided "misleading" statements "contradicted by other evidence."

In March, after he recused himself from the FBI probe of Russia's alleged influence over the campaign, Sessions said, "I never had any meetings with Russian operatives or Russian intermediaries about the Trump campaign."

The Justice Department said Friday that Sessions stands by his assertion that he never had any such conversations.

"Obviously I cannot comment on the reliability of what anonymous sources describe in a wholly uncorroborated intelligence intercept that the Washington Post has not seen and that has not been provided to me," Justice Department spokeswoman Sarah Isgur Flores said in a statement provided to the Post. "The attorney general stands by his testimony from just last month before the Senate Intelligence Committee when he specifically addressed this and said that he 'never met with or had any conversations with any Russians or any foreign officials concerning any type of interference with any campaign or election.' "

Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, while speaking at a security conference in Aspen, Colo, said he had seen the report before arriving at the event.

"I no longer put any stock in headlines and breaking news," Coats said, addressing a question from the audience. "I'm going to ask, 'Is this for real?' and try to get some details before I draw any conclusions."

As for Kislyak, he has had a very different version of events, and has said he had one conversation with Sessions in April before Trump's first major speech focused on foreign policy and another in July during the Republican National Convention, according to the Post.

The officials cited in the Post piece did point out to the news organization that their report was based on Kislyak's communication with the Kremlin and they said there is no assurance that he did not exaggerate his discussions with Sessions.

But other U.S. officials told the Post that Kislyak, who no longer is ambassador, has a reputation for portraying accounts accurately.

Contributing: Kevin Johnson in Washington, D.C.

Follow Melanie Eversley on Twitter at @melanieeversley.