Jeff Sessions Pushes Back On Suggestions Of Collusion

Jeff Sessions told a Senate committee on Tuesday that he wanted former FBI Director James Comey gone before the Senate confirmed Sessions as attorney general.

After his confirmation hearing in January, Sessions was skewered for saying, "I did not have communications with the Russians". "Mr. Comey well knew them, I thought, and assumed correctly that he complied with them", Sessions said.

Sessions acknowledged that he had met twice with Kislyak - once during the Republican National Convention and once in his Senate office - and he did not disclose that during his confirmation hearing. He allowed that he'd attended an event where Kislyak had also been present, but said he didn't recall talking to him beyond a possible brief exchange of pleasantries.

"I'm not able to invoke executive privilege, that's the President's prerogative", Sessions reiterated.

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. Because if there was any question it was related to the Russian Federation case, Sessions should have recused himself. That was not so, he said.

"I did not recuse myself from defending my honor against scurrilous and false allegations", Attorney General Jeff Sessions said.

"There was a clear view of my and of Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein as he set out at some length in his memorandum which I adopted and sent forward to the president 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 and when asked I said that to the president".

But I can't let Comey off the hook, either - or, more pointedly, place him on a pedestal. There are none, Sen. "There are none, Senator Wyden, there are none", Sessions insisted, his voice rising. Ron Wyden (D-OR), decrying "secret innuendo" from Comey and other critics.

The Sessions testimony unfolded as the FBI has been conducting an ongoing investigation into Russia's campaign operations since July, and special counsel Robert Mueller has been compiling a team of prosecutors to start his investigation. But Sessions said nothing today that meaningfully justified his participation in the Comey firing despite his recusal.

In the gaggle on Air Force One on Tuesday, White House deputy press secretary Sarah Sanders said the President wasn't able to watch "much of it", but from "what he did see and what he heard, he thought that attorney general Sessions did a very good job and in particular was very strong on the point that there was no collusion between Russian Federation and the Trump campaign". A friend of the president suggested a day earlier that Trump was considering such an ouster.

He said he would agree to dismiss Mueller only if there were a legitimate basis to do so.

Sessions said it would be "absurd" to suggest that a recusal from a single investigation would render him unable to manage the leadership of the FBI.

Constitutional law expert and University of Texas School of Law Professor Stephen I. Vladeck previously told ThinkProgress that a president's public comments can waive executive privilege for a particular topic.

Lawmakers will also press Sessions about aspects of Comey's testimony last week.

Amid the political firestorm that followed Comey's dismissal, the Justice Department last month appointed a special counsel to oversee the probe into Russian election interference and any collusion by Trump aides.

Comey, who testified before the same committee last week, said he couldn't discuss the "problematic" reason the FBI believed Sessions needed to recuse himself from the Russian Federation investigation. "I think if I had had a meeting with Ambassador Kislyak, or three for that matter, I would go the extra mile to make sure that every time I connected with him I was transparent about that with the US Congress".

During the Senate Intelligence Committee hearing, Sen.

He said that, since his recusal, he had never been given information or details about the Russian Federation investigation. "But the question is, why didn't he report that along with the other meetings?" he said. King, I know nothing but what I've read in the paper. "I was taken aback by that explosive allegation".

In a statement issued following the hearing, Sen.

In addition, Comey has said Sessions did not respond when he complained that he did not want to be left alone with Trump again.

  • Leroy Wright