Attorney General Sessions denies collusion with Russian Federation

Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Tuesday afternoon issued a sweeping denial of any personal involvement in Russian interference in the 2016 presidential campaign, calling accusations that he even discussed such an effort with officials from that country an "appalling and detestable lie".

Sessions recused himself in March from a federal investigation into contacts between Russia and the Trump presidential campaign after acknowledging that he had met twice past year with the Russian ambassador to the United States.

Burr said he wanted to know from Sessions what meetings he had with Russian officials or their proxies on behalf of the Trump campaign, why he recused himself from the Russia investigation and what role, if any, he played in the firing of Comey.

TRT World's Azadeh Ansari reports from Washington DC.

Following the hearing, a White House spokeswoman said Trump "has no intention" of dismissing Mueller.

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, now running the Russian Federation show since Sessions recused himself, told another committee he wouldn't be pressured to fire Special Counsel Robert Mueller without good cause, yet another signal from a Trump administration figure that they will not risk their personal reputations to carry political water for the White House. "There are none, Sen Wyden, there are none", Mr Sessions insisted, his voice rising.

Although Sessions backed Trump's campaign, he was also one of the first administration officials to fly into turbulence.

"I have no knowledge of any such conversations by anyone connected to the Trump campaign", he said. He has acknowledged two meetings a year ago with Russia's ambassador to the U.S., Sergei Kislyak. Sessions and Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak during an event at the Mayflower Hotel past year.

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

Sessions was adamant that he did not have a private meeting with Kislyak at that event. But Democrats on the Senate panel are likely to press him on issues such as his contacts with Russian Federation and his role in the dismissal of Comey - who led the FBI's probe on Russian Federation until he was ousted.

Testifying at a Senate hearing, Sessions, who was a close Trump adviser during the battle for the presidency, 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.

Sanders confirmed that the President did interview Robert Mueller as a candidate for FBI director the day before he was named special counsel of the federal investigation into the Trump campaign and Russian Federation ties.

Sessions also vowed to defend his honour "against scurrilous and false allegations".

The dramatic congressional standoff with the nation's top law enforcement official came on the heels of last week's testimony of former FBI Director James Comey before the same committee.

"Sir, I'm not asking about the principle", she countered.

Wyden responded: "He said it's "problematic" and I asked you what was problematic about it".

The president undoubtedly has the right to assert executive privilege and stop an adviser from revealing details of deliberations, and Justice Department policies on releasing information to the public note the concept of "deliberative process privilege", which is meant to "encourage open, frank discussions on matters of policy between subordinates and superiors".

Rumours have since circulated that the president may seek to sack special counsel Robert Mueller, who was appointed to head the high-stakes investigation following Mr Comey's ouster. Days after that, Sessions also corrected his confirmation hearing testimony to inform the committee about the two meetings with Kislyak. They say he did not mislead Congress because the encounters were part of his job as a senator, not as a Trump campaign surrogate.

Sessions also testified that he had never had any meetings with officials from Russian Federation or anywhere else about interference in the United States election. "I know nothing but what I've read in the paper", he said.

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