5 things you need to know now

Sessions shot back: "I am not stonewalling".

Sessions also said he has "no knowledge of any such conversations by anyone connected to the Trump campaign".

The North Carolina Republican senator gave the update Tuesday at the beginning of an open hearing to hear testimony from Attorney General Jeff Sessions. 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.

"I don't recall", Sessions said.

Throughout the questioning, Sessions defended himself and refused to discuss any details of conversations he has had with President Trump. As a matter of policy, the attorney general does not answer such questions in order to protect the president's power to invoke executive privilege.

CNN previously reported that congressional investigators are examining whether Sessions had an additional private meeting with the Russian ambassador in April 2016 at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington.

Sessions' testimony came days after fired FBI Director James Comey testified that he believed he was sacked as part of an effort to influence the agencies investigation into Russian meddling.

Sessions raised his voice to the Democratic senator pressing him for an answer, insisting there were no such reasons. Sheldon Whitehouse, the top Democrat on a subcommittee of the Judiciary panel, said: "As someone who served in the Department of Justice, I would love to know what he is talking about".

- Sen. Ron Wyden to Sessions.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions is a star player in two key controversies about the Trump administration: the investigation into Donald Trump campaign's connections with Russian Federation and whether the president improperly interfered in an FBI investigation.

While the hearing lacked the detailed revelations that Mr Comey provided in his testimony last week, it featured sharp exchanges between Mr Sessions and committee Democrats over accusations the attorney general recused himself from the Russian Federation probe, in part, for reasons that haven't been publicly disclosed.

But Sessions says Comey should have relayed his concerns to Dana Boente, who was then acting as deputy attorney general and Comey's direct supervisor. Rosenstein said he has seen no evidence of good cause to fire the special prosecutor overseeing the Russian Federation investigation. "I knew that Director Comey, long-time experienced in the Department of Justice, could handle himself well", Sessions told Sen.

On several occasions, Sessions refused to comment on whether he had discussed the Russian Federation investigation with President Trump.

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein says he has seen no evidence of good cause to fire the special prosecutor overseeing the Russian Federation investigation.

Sessions recommended the firing last month, raising questions about whether he violated his recusal from the investigation into Trump campaign ties to Russian Federation.

"The people of this country expect an honest and transparent government and that is what we are giving them", Sessions said. He says he and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein discussed it and "we both agreed that a fresh start at the Federal Bureau of Investigation was probably the best thing".

Lawmakers will also press Sessions about aspects of Comey's testimony last week.

Sessions's recusal came the day after The Post reported the first two meetings, but Sessions said he was already talking with lawyers about whether his Trump campaign work would force him to hand over the Russian Federation investigation to his deputy. Sessions explained his refusal to answer these questions by citing "long-standing department policy", but ran into some difficulty when asked by Harris exactly what that policy was. Sessions became attorney general in February but did not recuse himself from that probe until March.

"But this is the reason I recused myself". While he did not provide me with any of the content of the substance of the conversation, Mr. Comey expressed concern about proper communications protocol, " said Sessions.

"I don't recall you as being particularly vocal on such issues", McCain said.

Sessions says he was not silent, saying he stressed to Comey the need to be careful about following appropriate policies.

But the attorney general added that he needed to not discuss his conversations with Trump, to preserve the president's ability to theoretically invoke executive privilege in the future.

Though the Justice Department maintains that it has fully disclosed the extent of Sessions' foreign contacts past year, lawmakers have continued to press him for answers about an April 2016 event at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, where both Sessions and Kislyak attended a foreign policy speech by Trump.

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