Sessions: Collusion Suggestions Are 'Appalling And Detestable'

Sen. Tom Cotton Tuesday ripped Democrats on the Senate Intelligence Committee Tuesday for not asking Attorney General Jeff Sessions about alleged Russian collusion with the Trump campaign during last year's campaign. Kamala Harris during a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on Tuesday concerning his communications with Russians, President Donald Trump, and Trump's aides during the presidential campaign.

The suggestion that he colluded with Russians in the 2016 presidential election "is an appalling and detestable lie", Sessions said during his testimony on Tuesday, June 13, 2017, addressing whether he met privately with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak at an April 2016 foreign policy event at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington.

Asked about media reports that he had met with Kislyak on a third occasion at a Washington hotel previous year, Sessions testified that did not remember meeting or having a conversation with the ambassador at the event. "I only know what I've read in the paper", Sessions told Sen. "Though I do recall several conversations that I had during that "Free Speech" reception, I do not have any recollection with meeting, talking to the Russian ambassador or any other Russian officials".

Sessions hedged nearly all of his answers about whether/when he met with Russians, or why he was involved in firing Comey, or how he feels about the president's decisions, with: "I don't recall" or "I believe so" or "maybe".

"I believe the American people have had it with stonewalling". Sessions, though, said Tuesday he has not been briefed at all on the Russian Federation investigation.

If you get what Sessions is driving at in his response to Reed, you are a better - and smarter - person than me. Sessions is the one on solid ethical and legal grounds.

Heinrich: "Attorney General Sessions, has the president ever expressed his frustration to you regarding your decision to recuse yourself?"

"The FBI's leak of information regarding the president is outrageous, inexcusable and illegal, " said Mark Corallo, spokesman for Trump's outside legal team.

During a later contentious exchange, Harris grilled Sessions about whether he consulted with Justice Department officials on his legal justification to decline to answer certain questions during the hearing. "Mr. Comey well knew them, I thought, and assumed correctly that he complied with them", Sessions said.

"I think it should have used a grand jury", he said. He should have raised his concerns to Dana Boente, however, Sessions said. Mueller also won votes of support Tuesday from the top two Republicans in Congress, House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, both of whom said they have confidence in him.

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

Comey referred frequently to the attorney general and included the tantalizing tidbit that there were "facts that I can't discuss in an open setting". He could not point to specific Justice Department language, even though Sessions said he had consulted with department attorneys before the hearing.

After his confirmation hearing in January, Sessions was skewered for saying, "I did not have communications with the Russians". Sessions testified that he "basically recused" himself from the investigation into Russian Federation and the Trump campaign immediately after he was sworn in as attorney general on February 10, and that he "never received any detailed briefing" on Russia's cyberhacking or other influence efforts from that point forward.

The news came the same week as Trump friend Chris Ruddy floated the possibility that Trump would fire Mueller, who was appointed to head up the investigation after Trump fired FBI Director James Comey.

At a separate hearing Tuesday, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, overseeing that effort since Sessions stepped aside, said he'd seen no basis for firing Mueller, the former Federal Bureau of Investigation director he appointed as special counsel.

The tactic - combined with the earlier testimony of high-ranking Trump administration officials, who also deemed it inappropriate to divulge conversations with the president - may have given a road map for the White House to keep its secrets without the public-relations blowback of invoking executive privilege.

  • Zachary Reyes