Attorney General Sessions responds to Comey hearing, testifies in Russian Federation probe

Attorney General Jeff Sessions will face questions from the Senate Intelligence Committee about his contacts with Russia's ambassador to the USA during the presidential campaign.

As Sessions entered the crowded hearing room, a swarm of news photographers clicked away with their cameras.

Mr Sessions, who was appointed as Donald Trump's top justice official, said he did not recall meeting the Russian ambassador to the United States at an April event in the Mayflower Hotel in Washington attended by the USA president, contrary to recent media reports. Among the things they went at each other over former FBI Director James Comey's testimony and Wyden's belief that Sessions and the Trump administration have been "stonewalling".

Such a move would be complicated and potentially politically explosive.

"I did not have any private meetings nor recall any private conversations with any Russian official at the Mayflower hotel", Sessions told the Senate intelligence committee.

"Mr. Comey said that there were matters with respect to the recusal that were problematic, and that he couldn't talk about them". Jim Risch (R-ID) said that fired FBI Director James Comey said during his testimony before the committee last week that he "had very specific recollection" of not being able to find "a scintilla of evidence" of collusion between Trump and the Russians, and that the New York Times reporting to that end was false.

In his opening remarks, Sessions said he knew of no conversations between Trump campaign individuals and Russian officials about interfering in the USA election.

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".

Mr Sessions was revealed to have met the Russian ambassador twice a year ago, meetings that he did not indicate during the Senate confirmation hearing approving his appointment. "Further, I have no knowledge of any such conversations by anyone connected with the Trump campaign", Mr Sessions said. Sessions recused himself from the Russian Federation investigation in March after the revelations of the two Kislyak meetings.

Sessions is likely to be asked whether he played a role in Trump's decision to fire Comey.

Russian Federation has denied repeatedly that it interfered in the USA election, and Trump has denied any collusion by his campaign with Moscow. But under questioning, Sessions acknowledged that Trump's campaign foreign policy advisers "never functioned as a coherent team" and there were members of that group he never met.

The matter is also being investigated by several congressional panels, including the Senate Intelligence Committee. He described Mueller as operating independently from the Justice Department in his investigation.

The abrupt dismissal of Comey prompted Trump's critics to charge that the president was trying to interfere with a criminal investigation.

Russian Federation has denied interfering in the U.S. election. White House frustrations with the Justice Department spilled into public view last week, when Trump on Twitter criticized the legal strategy in defending his proposed travel ban.

US intelligence agencies have concluded that Russian Federation interfered in the election to help Trump in part by hacking and releasing damaging emails about Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton.

In his letter, first obtained by Tom Angell of Massroots.com and verified independently by the Washington Post, Sessions argued that the amendment would "inhibit (the Justice Department's) authority to enforce the Controlled Substances Act".

"I guess I'll just have to let his words speak for themselves", Sessions responded.

Appearing before the senate appropriations sub-committee in Washington on Tuesday, Mr Rosenstein said that Mr Mueller would be given the independence needed to do his job. "And I do believe it would destroy any shred of trust in the president's judgment that remains over here".

"If there were good cause, I would consider it", Rosenstein testified.

Rosenstein repeatedly conveyed his support for Mueller's role at a Senate hearing, held the morning after a close friend of President Donald Trump was quoted in a television interview as saying he was considering dismissing Mueller.

House Speaker Paul Ryan suggested Tuesday that questions about Mueller were sparked by a "rumor that's not happening" and causing a "debate that is not occurring".

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