Sessions to face questions on Russia, Comey

He said he recused himself from the Justice Department's Russian Federation investigation only because of a regulation to require the step because of his involvement in the Trump campaign.

All eyes will be on Attorney General Jeff Sessions as he testifies in public Tuesday to address issues related to former FBI Director James Comey and the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 USA election.

Sessions, a top Trump campaign surrogate, recused himself from the FBI's Russian Federation investigation in March, a day after The Washington Post reported that he had had at least two undisclosed meetings with Kislyak during the election - once during the Republican National Convention and again in his office in September.

In closely-watched congressional testimony, Sessions fiercely denounced allegations that he acted improperly during a series of meetings with Russian officials - or that he knew of any attempt at collusion by a member of the Trump campaign team.

Sessions's testimony comes one day after National Security Agency chief Mike Rogers met behind closed doors with the Intelligence Committee, after last week saying he couldn't respond to some questions about the Russian Federation probe and Trump's alleged involvement in a public hearing.

Sessions said he did not recuse himself because he felt he was a subject of the investigation himself but rather because he felt he was required to by Justice Department rules.

Even with his recusal from the investigation, Sessions made it clear he was going to defend himself against the allegations.

"I basically recused myself the first day I got into the office", Sessions explained. Sessions responded by saying that it didn't violate his recusal.

Like the intelligence officials who largely refused to answer questions last week, Sessions did not really offer a response.

Another high-profile hearing in the ongoing probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election is set to take place on Capitol Hill.

"I have known Mr. Mueller over the years", Sessions testified Tuesday.

Instead, Sessions repeatedly said he is "not able to comment" or "not able to discuss" certain topics, citing either Justice Department "longstanding policy", and later, that he is protecting President Donald Trump's right to later on assert executive privilege "if he chooses".

"You're being selective, " King said.

As for his role in Mr Comey's sacking, Mr Sessions told senators that he and his second-in-command, Rod Rosenstein, had a "clear view ... that we had problems there, and it was my best judgment that a fresh start at the Federal Bureau of Investigation was the appropriate thing to do".

"There are none. I can tell you that for absolute certainty", he continued angrily. I wonder if the media will cover that Comey said he wasn't notified. Former FBI Director James Comey testified earlier before the same Senate intelligence committee claiming he knew of reasons why it would be problematic for Sessions to remain involved in the Russian Federation investigation, even before he recused himself.

After learning that members of the appropriations committee meant to ask him questions about the Russian Federation investigation, Sessions notified the House and Senate committees' leadership that he would be changing his schedule because "the Senate Intelligence Committee is the most appropriate forum for such matters".

Sessions declined to elaborate about his conversations with President Trump concerning the handling of the investigation into Russian meddling in the US presidential election.

The deputy attorney general assured the Senate Appropriations Committee that Mueller will have "full independence".

Rosenstein added that if there were a good cause, he would consider firing the special counsel.

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