AG Jeff Sessions Issues Fiery Denial of Russia 'Collusion' During Senate Testimony
- Author: Leroy Wright Jun 14, 2017,
Jun 14, 2017, 19:57
Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-Va.), the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, questions Attorney General Jeff Sessions about whether the possibility of pardons had been considered in the Russian Federation collusion investigation, or for fired national security adviser Mike Flynn.
Rosenstein said he would agree to dismiss Mueller only if there were a legitimate basis to do so, and an order from the president would not necessarily qualify.
Appearing before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence that is investigating Russian interference in the election campaign, Sessions disputed claims of collusion between Moscow and the Trump presidential campaign.
Sessions took particular aim at news reports about a possible meeting he had with a Russian official during an April 2016 event at the Mayflower hotel, where Trump gave a pro-Russian speech.
The Sessions session before the Senate Intelligence Committee comes just six days after Comey's appearance.
Asked if he had confidence in Robert Mueller, the special counsel appointed to lead the Russian Federation investigation, Mr Sessions replied: "I have confidence in Mr Mueller but I am not going to discuss any hypotheticals", noting that he was not involved in the Russian Federation investigation.
The attorney general on March 2 recused himself from the FBI investigation into Russia's role in the election, saying he felt he was required to do so because he had been a prominent figure in Trump's campaign.
The attorney general has acknowledged two meetings a year ago with Russia's ambassador to the U.S., Sergey Kislyak. Only 23 percent say the former Federal Bureau of Investigation director's testimony helped Trump more and another 35 percent don't know or have no opinion.
"I know how this will be discussed, but that's the rule that's been long adhered to by Department of Justice, as you know, Sen". Dianne Feinstein's (D-Calif.) questions about why, if he had recused himself from the Russian Federation investigation, he participated in Trump's decision to fire Comey, on May 9 (notably, the day after Yates's testimony about Flynn). The president has denied asking Comey to drop the Flynn matter. But Sessions said he had no recollection of that. But there was an overlooked moment that merits notice: a statement from Sessions' testimony about the Trump campaign and Russian Federation.
Sessions noted that he in no way wanted to imply that the answer was yes, but that it is not appropriate for him to discuss Justice Department internal discussions.
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".
After admitting Mr Trump had not invoked privilege, Mr Sessions was accused of "stonewalling" by Democratic senator Ron Wyden. "And those arguments are not revealed historically, we've seen they should not be revealed", Sessions responded.
Sessions added: "These false attacks, the innuendo, and the leaks, you can be sure, will not intimidate me".
Sessions also said he is unaware that the president has a system for recording meetings in the White House. Sessions denied that signing the letter violated his recusal.
Namely, they were upset with his very public handling of the Hillary Clinton email probe, which Sessions said was a "usurpation" of Justice Department authority.
House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., told reporters Tuesday he had confidence in Mueller, and dismissed reports that Trump might fire Mueller as "rumors".