Sessions denies any collusion with Russian Federation in senate hearing

President Donald Trump smiles during a Cabinet meeting, Monday, June 12, 2017, in the Cabinet Room of the White House in Washington. He said he and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein had long discussed their concerns with Comey's job performance.

"I recused myself from any investigation into the campaign for president, but I did not recuse myself from defending my honor against scurrilous and false allegations", he said.

As attorney general, Sessions is unlikely to answer in detail questions about conversations he's had with Trump. Comey testified publicly last week the Federal Bureau of Investigation was aware of reasons it would be problematic for Sessions to remain involved in the probe before he recused himself.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Tuesday avoided answering a handful of questions during his hearing before the Senate intelligence committee - but sought to explicitly avoid saying he is invoking "executive privilege".

Sessions beseeched his former Senate colleagues to believe him when he said he did not hold an undisclosed meeting with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak at a speech by then-candidate Trump at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington a year ago.

The committee's chairman, Republican Richard Burr, told Sessions the hearing was "your opportunity to separate fact from fiction" and "set the record straight on a number of allegations reported in the press".

The attorney general has acknowledged two meetings past year with Russia's ambassador to the U.S., Sergey Kislyak. Martin Heinrich, D-N.M., asked whether Trump had expressed any frustration with Sessions about his decision to recuse himself from the Russian Federation investigation.

"I wanted to refute that immediately", Sessions said. Patrick Leahy was not happy about.

The attorney general, a prominent supporter of Donald Trump on the campaign trail, has recused himself from the DOJ Russia investigation. "Further, I have no knowledge of any such conversations by anyone connected to the Trump campaign". That was not so, he said.

Sessions assured the panel he recused himself from the FBI's Russian Federation probe, but not from any effort to "defend my honor against scurrilous and false accusations".

Democratic senators expressed frustration with Sessions on several occasions. "You're impeding this investigation", Heinrich said.

"You raised your right hand here today and you said you would solemnly swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and noting but the truth". There are none, Sen.

"People are suggesting through innuendo that I have been not honest about matters, and I've tried to be honest", he said.

Those calls have escalated since fired FBI Director James Comey cryptically told lawmakers on Thursday that the bureau had expected Sessions to recuse himself weeks before he did from an investigation into contacts between Trump campaign associates and Russian Federation during the 2016 presidential election. Maybe most prominent is the Democrats' insistence that those testifying share conversations they've had with President Trump.

A report in The New York Times said the president had indeed weighed the possibility, was dissuaded by staff, and has since landed on the idea of simply pressuring Mueller by letting him know he could be fired.

Asked by Democratic Sen.

Sessions is the most senior member of Trump's administration caught up in the controversy over whether associates of the president colluded with Russian Federation to help Trump win the election. I am concerned that the president still does not recognize the severity of the threat.

Sessions says he was not silent, saying he stressed to Comey the need to be careful about following appropriate policies. "I knew that director Comey, long-time experienced in the Department of Justice, could handle himself well".

Sessions recused himself from the Russia probe in March after it was revealed he twice met with the Russian ambassador during the campaign but failed to say so when pressed by lawmakers at his confirmation hearing. "I'm not sure what was in his mind specifically". He asserted that "I am protecting the right of the president to assert if it he chooses and there may be other privileges that may apply". Sessions added that, "to suggest that a recusal from a single specific investigation" would render him unable to manage the leadership of the FBI would be "absurd". "And I have taken no action whatsoever with regard to any such investigation".

In a statement issued following the hearing, Sen.

In a written testimony, Comey characterized Sessions as "lingering" when Trump allegedly asked everyone except Comey to leave.

Rubio asked him whether he remembered seeing Comey stay behind, to which Sessions replied, "Yes".

Sen. Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat who sits on the intelligence committee, said he fears that administration officials will "blur the lines between executive privilege and classification, and over-classification".

Would any such tapes have to be preserved?

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