Heinrich: Sessions' testimony shows 'concerted effort' to obstruct investigation

Heinrich: Sessions' testimony shows 'concerted effort' to obstruct investigation

President Donald Trump smiles during a Cabinet meeting, Monday, June 12, 2017, in the Cabinet Room of the White House in Washington. "The basis for this historical practice is laid out in the 1982 memos from President Reagan and then-Assistant Attorney General Olson". Had the privilege somehow been waived, for example by President Trump's public statements on the same matters in dispute?

Attorney General Jeff Sessions didn't answer a number of questions from senators during his testimony on Tuesday - but he didn't invoke executive privilege to avoid doing so.

In his dramatic appearance before former colleagues, Sessions contradicted a contention made by Comey at a hearing before the same panel last week. 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". Charges that he gave misleading testimony about those meetings, which he didn't initially inform Congress about, were totally "false", Sessions said.

"It appears so", Mr Sessions said when asked whether Russians interfered in the 2016 election.

SESSIONS: I'm not claiming executive privilege because that's the president's power, and I have no power to.

Sessions testified that he met with a "senior ethics official" at the Department of Justice the day after he was sworn in as attorney general.

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. "[Tweeting] hurt him on this", Brat said of Trump's reactions. Al Franken that had prompted his answer.

Shortly after his opening, Sessions said that if he had talked with Kislyak, "It would've been certainly, I can assure you, nothing improper, if I'd had a conversation with him".

Mr Sessions doggedly refused to answer several questions from the Senate Intelligence Committee, despite their obvious frustration at what one described as "stonewalling" and "impeding the investigation". That was not so, he said.

When Wyden accused him of not answering the questions about Comey's reported remark that his behavior after recusing himself from the Russian Federation probe was "problematic", Sessions chuckled and then launched into his most theatrical defense of his actions.

Sessions got angry again when Wyden pressed Sessions to explain what facts might be "problematic "about his involvement in the Russian Federation probe, as Comey suggested". Again, I'm telling you this as it's coming out, so, you know. There are none, Sen.

Sessions continued to insist that he could both recuse himself from the FBI's Russian Federation investigation and support the dismissal of Comey as the FBI director.

Tom Cotton, the Arkansas Republican, countered that Democrats were seeking to score political points without looking at the larger issues of tampering by foreign adversaries in the US election and leaks of national security secrets to the media.

Sessions' testimony did not provide any damaging new information on Trump campaign ties with Russian Federation or on Comey's dismissal, but his refusal to discuss conversations with Trump raised fresh questions about whether the White House has something to hide.

Rosenstein testified that he is the only one who has the authority to fire Mueller, who was appointed following the May 9 ousting of James Comey as Federal Bureau of Investigation director, and that he had seen no good cause to do so.

Sessions criticized Comey's handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation, which the White House had initially cited as the ostensible reason for his firing. Last week, Mr. Comey told the same Senate panel he was sacked because the investigation was "irritating" Mr. Trump.

Sessions refused to say whether he had ever discussed the Russian Federation investigation with Trump, arguing that he could not disclose private communications with the president. "I'm not sure what was in his mind specifically".

Comey testified last week that as of February 14, he still believed Sessions had not recused himself - but that he nearly certainly would.

"I did not have any private meetings nor do I recall any private conversations with any Russian officials at the Mayflower Hotel", said Sessions during his testimony, according to Los Angeles Times.

"From that point, February 10, until I announced my formal recusal on March 2, I was never briefed on any investigative details [and] did not access information about the investigation". Richard Burr, R-N.C., this head spinner: "I would have gladly have reported the meeting and encounter that may have occurred and some say occurred in the Mayflower if I had remembered it or if it actually occurred, which I don't remember that it did".

I mean what even is this hearing?

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