Attorney General Jeff Sessions says he was never briefed on Russian Federation probe

Lauren Perry
June 14, 2017

US Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Tuesday vehemently denied any collusion with Russian Federation to tilt last year's election in Donald Trump's favour, branding the suggestion an "appalling and detestable lie".

Heinrich's questions to Sessions began with the senator asking if President Donald Trump "ever expressed his frustration" after Sessions announced he would recuse himself from the investigation into ties between those close to Trump and Russian Federation during the elections.

McConnell told reporters Tuesday that "I have a lot of confidence in Bob Mueller".

He added that any assertion that he did not honestly answer the question at the confirmation hearing is "false".

Heinrich fired back, again accusing Sessions of "impeding" the panel's investigation. A question about Comey's remark last week over Sessions' recusal from the Russian Federation probe also rattled the attorney general.

Sessions responded in what he thought was an appropriate way and affirmed to Comey his willingness to deny a private interaction with the president.

The former Republican U.S. senator, an early supporter of Trump's presidential campaign, will likely have to explain why he told lawmakers in January that he had no dealings with Russian officials previous year. "You probably know on February 14 the New York Times published an article alleging that there was constant communications between the Trump campaign and the Russians in collusion regarding the elections".

There had been some question as to whether the hearing would be open to the public, but the Justice Department said Monday he requested it be so because he "believes it is important for the American people to hear the truth directly from him".

It it appeared as though Sessions had consulted with a legal team - at the Department of Justice or the White House Counsel's Office - and burning that much time at the hearing without revealing any private conversations with the president had to be viewed as a victory. Sessions said those policies that prevented him answering questions, despite various senators saying there was no legality that should limit him from answering.

Sessions did not cite executive privilege in declining to answer some questions but said he is "protecting the right of the president to assert it if he chooses". I am concerned that the president still does not recognize the severity of the threat.

He also declined to say if Trump opposed Sessions' decision to recuse himself from the Russian Federation probe in March, and whether Justice Department officials discussed possible presidential pardons of individuals being looked at in the probe. Risch asked. Sessions said not specifically.

The testimony by Sessions marked the latest chapter in a saga that has dogged Trump's first five months as president and distracted from his domestic policy agenda including major healthcare and tax cut initiatives.

The attorney general, a prominent supporter of Donald Trump on the campaign trail, has recused himself from the DOJ Russia investigation.

"The suggestion that I participated in any collusion - or that I was aware of any collusion with the Russian government to hurt this country which I have served with honor for 35 years - or to undermine the integrity of the democratic process, is an appalling and detestable lie", Sessions said in his testimony.

The hearing will bring contentious questioning for Sessions and likely some uncomfortable moments for the Trump administration.

In his dramatic appearance before former colleagues, Sessions contradicted a contention made by Comey at a hearing before the same panel last week.

Comey testified last week that he spoke with Sessions day after that meeting and told him he was not comfortable being alone with the president in that situation.

Comey said the president then leaned on him to halt the Flynn investigation.

Sessions said Comey's decision to publicly recommend not seeking charges in the email investigation was a "breathtaking usurpation of the responsibility of the attorney general".

Sessions, a top Trump campaign surrogate, recused himself from the FBI's Russian Federation investigation in March, a day after The Washington Post reported that he had had at least two undisclosed meetings with Kislyak during the election - once during the Republican National Convention and again in his office in September.

Other reports by VgToday

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