Senator accuses Sessions of 'impeding' Senate investigation by not answering questions
- Author: Leroy Wright Jun 14, 2017,
Jun 14, 2017, 18:01
Members of the Democratic faction within the Senate Intelligence Committee meant to press the former Alabama senator not just on any interactions he had with Russian officials, but his conversations with Donald Trump both pre- and post-election that could implicate any collusion between the campaign and the Kremlin.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions looks through papers prior to testifying before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday.
Sessions said he has not received briefings on any Russian Federation hacking.
But he says he does not recall any private meetings or conversations with Russian officials at that event. Sessions argued that in the context of that hearing, "my answer was a fair and correct response to the charge as I understood it".
Sessions was adamant he never had a third meeting with the Ambassador Sergey Kislyak. And, like Trump, Sessions didn't exactly criticize Comey's handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation during the presidential campaign. He did allow for the possibility that he encountered him in a reception that he said was attended by a couple dozen people, though he said he had no specific recollection of that.
He's been hounded by speculation over the possibility of a third meeting, with Democratic senators calling for an investigation.
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 at his confirmation hearing.
"Sen. Heinrich, I'm not able to share with this committee private communications - " Sessions said, before Heinrich cut him off. That was not so, he said.
Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden of OR aggressively asked Sessions about suggestions arising from Comey's testimony last week that there was something "problematic" about his recusal.
Sessions, however, seemed to struggle as he was asked to name the policy he cited. "And that's troubling to me, I've got to tell you".
Sessions raised his voice to the Democratic senator pressing him for an answer, insisting there were no such reasons. "This is a secret innuendo being leaked out there about me, and I don't appreciate it".
"He thought that Attorney General Sessions did a very good job", White House deputy press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters, including NPR's Tamara Keith, traveling on Air Force One on Tuesday night.
During the hearing, Sessions lent his support to the special counsel, Robert Mueller, who is now in charge of the Trump campaign-Russia investigation.
"I think the White House sort of had its cake and ate it too", Toobin said.
Sen. Mark Warner, D., Va., asked the attorney general if he had confidence in former FBI Director Robert Mueller's appointment as special counsel to probe whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russian Federation.
Sessions recused himself from the FBI Russia probe officially on March 2.
Comey was overseeing thousands of investigations at the time of his firing, Sessions argued, so the fact that he was recused from just one of them shouldn't mean he couldn't make a judgment call on Comey's leadership abilities.
Sessions refused to say whether he had ever discussed the Russian Federation investigation with Trump, arguing that he could not disclose private communications with the president. Ron Wyden, D-Oregon, asked Sessions what the "problematic" matters were, which led to a dramatic, emphatic statement from Sessions.
He said he was avoiding saying anything in case the president might later choose to exercise his executive privilege to withhold certain evidence.
Sessions maintained that he had not been briefed on the Russian Federation investigation between the time of his February swearing-in and his March 2 recusal.
On another hot-button issue, Sen.
Sessions adds that he has no knowledge of "any such conversations by anyone connected to the Trump campaign".
Comey testified last week that Sessions did not respond when he complained that he did not want to be left alone with President Donald Trump again. "I don't know, Sen".