Sessions to Testify Before Senate Intelligence Committee on Russia Probe

Nick Mcbride
June 14, 2017

But he said Tuesday he anticipated the conflict of interest and effectively recused himself on his first day on the job, and was never briefed on the Russian Federation investigation.

Now there's a risk that if the intelligence committee's Russian Federation investigation heats up, those same Trump supporters could turn on Blunt.

"I encourage every effort to get to the bottom of any such allegations", he said.

The attorney general gave a passionate opening statement addressing the need to investigate Russian interference with our elections. I am here today to address several issues that have been specifically raised before this committee, and I appreciate the opportunity to respond to questions as fully as I am able to do so.

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". Sessions reiterated Tuesday those meetings were in his capacity as a lawmaker and not about the campaign. Democrats pressed Sessions repeatedly to say if he had discussed Russian Federation and Comey with Mr. Trump, but didn't get very far about those conversations between Sessions and the President.

"I left. It didn't seem to me to be a major problem". He pushed back on rumors that have been flying in Washington that he had undisclosed conversations with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak.

Risch opened by saying he was glad to hear Sessions talk about "this Russian interference and active measures in our campaign".

Sessions adds that he has no knowledge of "any such conversations by anyone connected to the Trump campaign". That is false. This is how it happened.

But Tuesday's hearing grew testy as Sessions refused to answer questions about his conversations with Trump, drawing charges of stonewalling from Democrats on the panel. And it's really - people are suggesting through innuendo that I have been not honest about matters, and I've tried to be honest. "I wanted to refute that immediately". Later, under question, he said, "I recused myself from any investigation into campaign for president but I did not recuse myself from defending my honor against scurrilous and false allegations".

I also provided the reporter a list of all 25 foreign ambassador meetings I had held during 2016.

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These senators howled in protest. "You are impeding this investigation...." Martin Heinrich (D-NM) exclaimed. Democratic Senator Ron Wyden told Sessions, "I believe the American people have had it with stonewalling ".

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Sessions's testimony, then, is not likely to lay to rest doubts swirling around his possibly conflicted role, and will probably only heighten them. I readily acknowledged these two meetings. And we routinely have the attorney general appear before us. "That, to me, is the smartest thing to do, the best thing to do".

Besides he and Comey, others present for the intelligence briefing on national security included White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus and chief strategist Steve Bannon.

During the hearing, Sessions sought to remind the senators that he was part of their club not that long ago.

He again cited a Justice Department rule.

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

It is a clear statement of my views. The admission led to his recusal from the Department of Justice's investigation into any Russian collusion. Trump has suggested there might be tapes of his encounters with Comey; Comey said last week that "lordy" he hopes there are. Harris asked him straight up: What is that policy and did you actually look at it?

Flynn was sacked two weeks into the job amid concerns he lied over his Russian contacts, becoming the first high-profile victim of the scandal that has overshadowed Trump's young presidency. "I knew that Director Comey, long-time experienced in the Department of Justice, could handle himself well", Sessions told Sen. But he said that he was unable to say whether he had discussed Comey's handling of the FBI investigation on the principle that his conversations with the President should be kept confidential. There was no blanket comment absolving the White House. Mr. Comey well knew them, I thought, and assumed correctly that he complied with them. "I just don't remember it". He also asked why Sessions recused himself from oversight of the FBI's Russian Federation probe and wanted to know what role in played in Comey's dismissal.

FRANKEN: Yes. I think the chairman can - I mean, he is the attorney general. "I do recall being one of the last ones to leave, I don't know how that occurred", he said. We have oversight over the Justice Department.

"This is a secret innuendo being leaked about me".

In fact, these events have only strengthened my resolve to fulfill my duty to reduce crime, and to support our federal, state, and local law enforcement officers who work our streets every day. Together, we are telling the gangs, the cartels, the fraudsters, and the terrorists-we are coming after you. Blunt, who was running against Democrat Jason Kander, a 35-year-old Afghan War veteran, came closer than he ever had to losing his seat in Congress. And I will not be deterred, and I will not allow this great Department to be deterred from its vital mission.

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