Sessions Denies Knowledge Of Russian Interference During Testimony

Toby Manning
June 14, 2017

He vowed to defend his honor "against scurrilous and false allegations".

Sessions said it would be "inappropriate" for him to reveal private conversations with Trump when the president "has not had a full opportunity to review the questions and to make a decision on whether or not to approve such an answer".

He is set to testify hours after Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein appeared in the Senate and said he's seen no basis for firing Robert Mueller, the former FBI director he appointed as special counsel to oversee the Russian Federation investigation.

Sessions, a close campaign adviser to Trump and the first senator to endorse him, stepped aside from the investigation in early March after acknowledging he had spoken twice in the months before the election with the Russian ambassador.

Committee chairman Sen. Richard Burr of North Carolina laid out questions that he wanted addressed, including Sessions' meetings with Russian officials or proxies while working for the Trump campaign or as Attorney General.

After his confirmation hearing in January, Sessions was skewered for saying, "I did not have communications with the Russians".

Heinrich asked Sessions what are the longstanding Department of Justice rules that protect conversations Sessions had with Trump without invoking executive privilege.

The attorney general has acknowledged two meetings a year ago with Russia's ambassador to the U.S., Sergey Kislyak.

Sessions recused himself from the Russian Federation investigation in March after revelations that he had failed to disclose two meetings previous year with Russia's ambassador to Washington, Sergei Kislyak.

Mr Wyden asked Mr Sessions what problematic issues existed.

But the attorney general told the senate he "did not remember that, but I understand that he was there". There are none, Sen. "There are none, Sen Wyden, there are none", Mr Sessions insisted, his voice rising. "Cotton", he said. "It's just like 'Through the Looking Glass.' I mean, what is this?"

Sessions is the most senior member of Trump's administration caught up in the controversy over whether associates of the president colluded with Russian Federation to help Trump win the election.

Spicer, the spokesman, declined to say then that Sessions enjoyed Trump's confidence, though spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said later in the week that the president had confidence "in all of his Cabinet".

At a separate hearing Tuesday, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, overseeing that effort since Sessions stepped aside, said he's seen no basis for firing Mueller, the former Federal Bureau of Investigation director he appointed as special counsel. Asked whether he would ever take any action to remove Mueller, Sessions said, "I would not think that would be appropriate for me to do".

Sessions also argued that his recusal from the Russian Federation investigation did not mean that he should be barred from his oversight duties over the FBI, following claims by Democrats that he should have not played a role in Comey's firing. "I'm not sure what was in his mind specifically".

Asked Monday if the White House thought Sessions should invoke executive privilege to avoid answering questions about his conversations with Trump, presidential spokesman Sean Spicer replied, "It depends on the scope of the questions".

Comey said he wrote memos on his meetings with the Trump because of "the nature of the person" he was talking to. On June 5, he tweeted that the Justice Department "should have stayed with the original Travel Ban, not the watered down, politically correct version they submitted" to the Supreme Court.

"I believe it was the next day that [Comey] said something, expressed concern, about being left alone with the president", Sessions said. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., asked Sessions whether Trump records his conversations in the White House.

Sessions said that he was not sure what was "explicitly" in Trump's mind when he made a decision to fire Comey.

The core of the letter directly refutes Comey's testimony that he was never notified and gave consistent reasons for Sessions's recusal, based on his work with the Trump campaign.

Mr Sessions had recused himself from any probe in Russia's alleged meddling.

Other reports by VgToday

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