5 key takeaways from Attorney General Jeff Sessions's testimony

Democrat Senator Ron Wyden from OR appeared on CNN's "Anderson Cooper 360" Tuesday night to discuss Attorney General Jeff Sessions' testimony to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions heatedly denied on Tuesday having an undisclosed meeting with Russia's ambassador to the US and declared it was a "detestable and appalling lie" to suggest he was aware of or took part in any collusion between Russian Federation and the election campaign that sent Donald Trump to the White House. He vowed to defend his honor "against scurrilous and false allegations". And he declared it a "detestable and appalling lie" to suggest he was aware of or took part in any collusion between Russian Federation and the election campaign that sent Trump to the White House. What happened when Sessions left the room, and Trump allegedly pressed Comey to end an investigation? Sens. Al Franken of Minnesota and Patrick Leahy of Vermont have sought an FBI investigation and have requested to be briefed on what the bureau knows about any such encounter.

"This is a secret innuendo being leaked out there about me, and I don't appreciate it".

Sessions on Saturday said he would appear before the intelligence committee, which has been doing its own investigation into Russian contacts with the Trump campaign.

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.

Chris Ruddy, a Trump friend and the CEO of the conservative website Newsmax, raised the possibility of the president considering terminating Mueller, a potentially explosive option.

Sessions continued to insist that he could both recuse himself from the FBI's Russian Federation investigation and support the dismissal of Comey as the FBI director. Comey's decision to announce past year that Clinton would not be prosecuted over her emails was a "usurpation" of the Justice Department's authority, Sessions said. "You don't walk into any committee meeting and reveal confidential communications with the president of the United States". An order from the president would not necessarily qualify, he said.

That push-back came from top officials from the party's congressional wing, as well as from administration officials who actually have the legal authority over the special counsel and would need to be involved in any firing.

Sessions declined to comment on those reports, stating only that he had "confidence" in Mueller and would not be involved in any effort, should it arise, to fire the special counsel. I asked him specifically that if these reports were true, what would he do as attorney general?

Sessions repeatedly refused to discuss private conversations with Trump on a wide variety of topics. But time and again, Sessions returned to lines such as "I am not able to discuss with you or confirm or deny the nature of private conversations that I may have had with the president on this subject or others".

On another hot-button issue, Sen.

At the conclusion of a February 14 meeting, the sacked Federal Bureau of Investigation chief testified, Trump urged everyone but Comey to leave the Oval Office, including Sessions.

[W] hat I recall is that I did depart and I believe everyone else did depart and Director Comey was sitting in front of the president's desk and they were talking. "It is premature for me to deny the president a full and intelligent choice about executive privilege", Sessions said.

It's not clear if Sessions meant to pay penance to Trump after their relationship strained over the President's concerns that Sessions burned him by stepping aside from the Russian Federation probe - but he did a good job defending the White House anyway.

I felt ... the former deputy attorney general knew the policy a good deal better than I did.

And now the next thing you know, I'm accused of some reception, plotting some sort of influence campaign for the American election. "Rubio, probably so", Sessions added, when Rubio asked whether any such tapes would have to be preserved.

  • Salvatore Jensen