Jeff Sessions Testifies He Never Discussed Election With Russians

Jeff Sessions Testifies He Never Discussed Election With Russians

The attorney general acknowledged that Trump hadn't evoked "executive privilege" - legalese for an ability to protect private conversations with the President - but still refused to answer any questions from senators regarding his conversations with Trump, including whether he and Trump had discussed the Russian Federation investigation when talking about firing Comey.

"I did not do so", Sessions replied.

While the hearing lacked the detailed revelations that Mr Comey provided in his testimony last week, it featured sharp exchanges between Mr Sessions and committee Democrats over accusations the attorney general recused himself from the Russian Federation probe, in part, for reasons that haven't been publicly disclosed.

Wyden noted Comey had said it was "problematic" for Sessions to oversee the Russian Federation probe, for reasons he did not explain in a public setting. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., suggested the attorney general was ducking questions, angering Sessions. His view, as he eventually explained it, is that he shouldn't answer questions about anything about which the president might later decide to invoke executive privilege. "He was preparing for the stop here today", said Sanders.

As did other senators, Harris was questioning Sessions about his legal basis for refusing to answer questions.

Sessions said he has not received briefings on any Russian Federation hacking. Sessions requested an open hearing, though he made clear in his opening remarks and several times during his testimony that there were some things he would not discuss, including confidential conversations with the president. Angus King, I-Maine, that he has not read the consensus report from USA intelligence agencies on Russian meddling and has not sought any briefings.

The former Alabama senator also defended himself against accusations that he misrepresented himself during his confirmation hearing when he said he hadn't met with Russian officials during the campaign.

Mr Sessions was asked if he will participate in further hearings, and he was non-committal, saying that he will only do so if appropriate.

Even before Sessions testified, attention in Washington swiveled to whether Trump might seek to fire Robert Mueller, named last month by the Justice Department to head a federal probe into the Russian Federation issue.

The White House, which was slow to say whether President Trump has confidence in Sessions, finally confirmed at the end of last week that the president does have confidence in the country's top law enforcement officer.

Sessions said Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein prepared a memo on Comey's performance that "noted some serious problems" with his performance.

Such a move would be complicated and potentially politically explosive. Comey told the intelligence committee that, after an encounter with President Trump in which he said Trump pressured him to back off an investigation into the former national security adviser, Comey implored Sessions to make sure he was never left alone with the president again - but Sessions didn't respond.

JOHNSON: But Ari, Jeff Sessions acknowledged he never brought up any management concerns with Comey before his surprise firing last month.

In March, he acknowledged he met twice previous year with Russia's ambassador to Washington, Sergei Kislyak.

According to Comey, Trump said of Flynn: "He is a good guy". Days after that, Sessions also corrected his confirmation hearing testimony to inform the committee about his two meetings with Kislyak.

Democrats were unhappy with Sessions declining to testify about his discussions with Trump, citing the longstanding policy.

And he used carefully selected language to give himself an out about a potential unreported third meeting with Russia's ambassador to the US, saying only that he did not "have any recollection of meeting or talking to the Russian Ambassador or any other Russian officials" during a Trump event at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, D.C., during the campaign.

Sessions also insisted he had every right to be involved with Trump's decision to fire Comey, even though the FBI head was leading the Russian Federation investigation Sessions had been forced to step away from.

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