Russian Federation collusion claim 'detestable lie': US Attorney General

Attorney-General Jeff Sessions gave passionate and vehement replies to accusations of collusion with the Kremlin during the presidential election.

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.

He also said that since his recusal, "I have no knowledge about this investigation" beyond media reports.

"I was your colleague in this body for 20 years, at least some of you, and the suggestion that I participated in any collusion - that I was aware of any collusion with the Russian government to hurt this country, which I have served with honour for 35 years, or to undermine the integrity of our democratic process, is an appalling and detestable lie", Sessions said.

Similar to former FBI Director James Comey, who testified before the same committee last week, Sessions came out ready to defend himself.

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. It stated that the arrangement meant conversations were brief and not private, and that it's unlikely any meaningful conversation could occur without drawing attention. New Mexico Senator Martin Heinrich accused Mr. Sessions of "obstructing" the committee and "impeding this investigation". Ron Wyden, D-Ore., suggested the attorney general was ducking questions, angering Sessions.

There were no fireworks in the line of questions concerning Sessions' meetings with Russian officials.

"I have to tell you Sen".

"He didn't recall this, but I responded to his comment by agreeing that the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Department of Justice needed to be careful to follow department policy regarding appropriate contacts with the White House", Sessions said.

"Our committee will want to hear what you are doing to ensure that the Russians - or any other foreign adversaries - can not attack our democratic process like this ever again".

Sessions testified that he never been briefed about the USA intelligence community's finding in October 2016 that Russian Federation sought to influence the outcome of the US election. Some believed Comey was hinting that Sessions' meeting with Russians was problematic and contributed to his recusal in the investigation. He never, he insisted, knew anything about the Russian Federation probe or had any role in it.

In his testimony on Tuesday, Sessions addressed media reports that he may have had a third previously undisclosed meeting with Kislyak at Washington's Mayflower Hotel a year ago. "You don't walk into any hearing or committee meeting and reveal confidential communications with president of the United States, who is entitled to receive confidential communications in your best judgment about a host of issues".

"Without in any way suggesting I had any conversations concerning pardons, totally apart from that", he told Feinstein, "there are privileges of communication within the Department of Justice that we share, all of us do".

Former FBI Director James Comey was blunt in his assessment of the situation during his own recent testimony to Congress. "I am following the historic policies of the Department of Justice". Marco Rubio, R-Fla., asked Sessions whether Trump records his conversations in the White House. "I affirmed his concern that we should be following the proper guidelines of the Department of Justice, and basically backed him up in his concerns".

Several Democrats on the committee repeatedly pressed Sessions to divulge details of some of his conversations with Trump, such as when the president was preparing to fire Comey.

Other than disputing Comey's claim that Sessions seemed helpless to rein in the president, there was none of that in Sessions' remarks. As Trump tried to shoo everyone out to talk alone with Comey, Sessions lingered, in Comey's account.

  • Leroy Wright