Attorney General Jeff Sessions denies 'false and scurrilous allegations'

Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Tuesday branded claims that he colluded with Russian officials during the 2016 election as an "appalling and detestable lie", as Democrats blasted him for "stonewalling" to defend the Trump administration over the Russia probe and the firing of FBI Director James Comey.

"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.

Testifying at a Senate hearing, Sessions said it was a "detestable and appalling lie" to suggest that he participated in or was aware of any collusion between Russian Federation and the Trump campaign.

Ron Wyden aggressively questioned Attorney General Jeff Sessions on just what former FBI Director James Comey thought was "problematic" about Sessions that would ultimately lead to his recusal in the federal Russian Federation probe.

But the attorney general left Democratic senators deeply frustrated when he declined to go into the reasons for Comey's dismissal and wouldn't say whether the President ordered him out of the Oval Office so he could talk privately with Comey on February 14, in an encounter the former Federal Bureau of Investigation director said included a request for him to go easy on former national security adviser Michael Flynn.

View a replay of Session's testimony in the video above or check out national reactions via Twitter below.

"We may have discussed that", Sessions said, apparently responding to McCain's earlier question.

As expected, lawmakers grilled Sessions about his role in Comey's firing, his own involvement in the Trump campaign and his meetings with Sergey Kislyak, the Russian ambassador to the US.

Sessions said he recused himself from the Justice Department's Russian Federation investigation only because of a regulation to require the step because of his involvement in the Trump campaign.

Sessions said that he was not sure what was "explicitly" in Trump's mind when he made a decision to fire Comey. Dianne Feinstein about whether he spoke with President Donald Trump about Comey's firing, Sessions said: "I'm not able to discuss or confirm or deny the nature of private conversations that I may have had with the president on this subject or others". "And I'm trying to give my best recusal answer in committees I've appeared before, and really people are suggesting through innuendo that I have not been honest about matters, and I'm trying to be honest". On another hot-button issue, Sen. "Trump has suggested there might be tapes of his encounters with Comey; Comey said last week that lordy" he hopes there are.

This was among the many times Sessions attempted to explain that he is protecting the President's right to choose to invoke executive privilege in not sharing the details of conversations. "Rubio, probably so", Sessions added, when Rubio asked whether any such tapes would have to be preserved.

Comey had also said that Sessions had lingered in the Oval Office following a group meeting, just before the private encounter during which Comey has said Trump asked him to pull back on his investigation of former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn. As Trump tried to shoo everyone out to talk alone with Comey, Sessions lingered, in Comey's account.

The Senate committee is of one several congressional panels that, along with a special counsel, is also investigating whether any Trump campaign officials colluded with the alleged Kremlin plot.

"Gen. Sessions, respectfully you're not answering the question", Wyden said.

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