Attorney General Sessions heatedly denies improper Russia contacts

Nick Mcbride
June 14, 2017

He called accusations of collusion "an appalling and detestable lie" and derided the suggestion last week by Comey that there were "problematic" issues that forced Sessions to recuse himself from the Russian Federation probe. Five days after questions were raised by former FBI Director James Comey, the Attorney General defended his decision to recuse himself from the Russian Federation investigation, denied that he had been involved in any wrongdoing, and pushed back against his former Democratic colleagues in the Senate.

"I am following the historic policies of the Department of Justice. That answer in my view doesn't pass the smell test".

(CNN) A generally mild-mannered Jeff Sessions expressed outrage and indignation during his testimony before the Senate intelligence committee hearing on the Russian Federation investigation on Tuesday.

Sessions said on Tuesday he did not recuse himself because he felt he was a subject of the investigation himself but rather because he felt he was required to by Justice Department rules.

"I am not stonewalling", Sessions replied in a higher tone.

"As such", he said, "I have no knowledge about this investigation, as it is ongoing today, beyond what has been publicly reported".

"I recused myself from any investigation into the campaigns for President, but I did not recuse myself from defending my honor against scurrilous and false allegations", Sessions said.

In March he acknowledged he met twice a year ago with Russia's ambassador to Washington, Sergei Kislyak.

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Sessions Denies Knowledge Of Russian Interference During Testimony
After his confirmation hearing in January, Sessions was skewered for saying, "I did not have communications with the Russians". The attorney general has acknowledged two meetings a year ago with Russia's ambassador to the U.S., Sergey Kislyak.

During the senate hearing, he acknowledged having two previously disclosed meetings with Sergei Kislyak, Russia's ambassador to the US.

As would be expected, most of the adversarial questions came from the Democratic side of the aisle, with Ron Wyden, Kamala Harris, Al Franken and Angus King throwing the hardballs.

Mr Wyden asked Mr Sessions what problematic issues existed. "I hope you can let this go". There are none, Sen. "So I would push back on that", Sessions said. The latest tempest includes stories that Trump is considering firing Robert Mueller, the special counsel who picked up where Comey left off.

Sessions continually said he was just following precedent.

Sen. Mark Warner, D., Va., asked the attorney general if he had confidence in former FBI Director Robert Mueller's appointment as special counsel to probe whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russian Federation.

"I explained how in good faith I said I had not met with Russians, because they were suggesting that - I, as a surrogate - had been meeting continuously with Russians". Attorney General Rod Rosenstein wrote the justification for Comey's firing - his mishandling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation - and Sessions wrote the memo recommending Comey's ouster to Mr. Trump. He said the Federal Bureau of Investigation thought Sessions would soon recuse himself from the Russian Federation probe for a "variety of reasons" and wouldn't discuss it further in an open hearing.

Senator Mark Warner, Ranking Member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence said questions have been raised about some of his own interactions with Russian officials during the campaign. Yet he says he does not have the power to invoke executive privilege, and the president has not asserted it.

Other reports by VgToday

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