AG Sessions Denies Improper Russia Contacts During Senate Hearing

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Tuesday strongly denied the accusation that he colluded with Russian Federation during last year's Donald Trump campaign, calling it an "appalling and detestable lie".

When Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Oregon), pressed Sessions for more information after fired FBI Director James Comey told the committee last week there were "problematic" reasons why Sessions needed to recuse himself from the FBI's investigation into Russian election meddling, Sessions responded with perhaps the most memorable line of his testimony.

"A very simple question that should be asked is did Donald Trump or any of his associates in the campaign collude with Russian Federation in hacking those e-mails and releasing them to the public?" the Arkansas Republican said during Sessions' hearing before the panel.

"I have never met with or had any conversation with any Russians or any foreign officials concerning any type of interference with any campaign or election in the United States". But he refused to discuss the reports "because I know nothing about the investigation". This is a secret innuendo being leaked out there about me and I don't appreciate it and I've tried to give my best and truthful answers, " Sessions said.

"Thank you for saying that, Senator Cotton", Sessions said.

He's been hounded by speculation over the possibility of a third meeting, with Democratic senators calling for an investigation. Trump has suggested there might be tapes of his encounters with Comey; Comey said last week that "lordy" he hopes there are.

And while he had recused himself from the Russian Federation probe, Sessions insisted, "I did not recuse myself from defending my honor against scurrilous and false allegations".

But Sessions said that despite his sense of problems at the Federal Bureau of Investigation, he never raised that with Comey.

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

He also alleged to have never conversed with Comey about his job performance prior to his firing.

"Many have suggested that my recusal is because I felt I was a subject of the investigation myself, that I may have done something wrong", Sessions added.

The appearance was Sessions's first sworn public testimony since being confirmed as attorney general in February, and comes as political intrigue pulses through the USA capital following Comey's explosive testimony last week. Rosenstein wrote a memo to Sessions on Comey, which was then used by the administration to justify firing the director for his handling of the Clinton case.

Spokesman Spicer 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". That position was similar to the one taken at a separate hearing last week by the country's intelligence chiefs.

Sessions had written a letter to Trump recommending Comey's firing.

When Harris doubled down, asking Sessions about the policy that allowed him to refuse to answer a number of questions that had come up during the hearing, McCain jumped in.

"I am following historic policies of Department of Justice", Sessions continued. Sessions said he did not mislead Congress because the encounters were part of his job as a USA senator, not as a Trump campaign representative.

"There's no doubt that conversations that involve national security in a real sense are potentially protected by an executive privilege", Diane Marie Amann, a law professor at University of Georgia, told CNN Monday.

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