Sessions denies improper collusion with Russians
- Author: Larry Hoffman Jun 15, 2017,
Jun 15, 2017, 8:44
Attorney General Jeff Sessions told a Senate committee Tuesday that any suggestion he colluded with Russian Federation during last year's US presidential campaign was an "appalling and detestable lie".
Comey told the intelligence committee that, after an encounter with President Trump in which he said Trump pressured him to back off an investigation into the former national security adviser, Comey implored Sessions to make sure he was never left alone with the president again - but Sessions didn't respond. "The suggestion that I participated in any collusion or that I was aware of any collusion with the Russian government to hurt this country, which I have served with honor for 35 years, or to undermine the integrity of our democratic process, is an appalling and detestable lie".
Asked about media reports that he had met with Kislyak on a third occasion at a Washington hotel past year, Sessions testified that did not remember meeting or having a conversation with the ambassador at the event.
He said he did not recall a third meeting with Russian ambassador to the US Sergey Kislyak in the Mayflower hotel in Washington, despite reports that the Federal Bureau of Investigation had been investigating whether such a contact took place. But I have to tell you, Senator King, I know nothing but what I've read in the paper.
"I did not have any private meetings nor recall any private conversations with any Russian official at the Mayflower Hotel", Sessions told the Senate intelligence committee.
"I can not and will not violate my duty to protect the confidential communications I have with the president", he said. The Oregon Democrat was questioning Sessions about why he could sign the letter recommending the firing of Comey if it violated his recusal.
"Attorney General Jeff Sessions' testimony in the Senate Intelligence Committee was very unsettling", said Sen.
"Despite what he attempted to assert in his testimony", Franken continued, "Attorney General Sessions wasn't actually confused by my question during his January confirmation hearing".
Sessions offered a near-blanket refusal to comment on his private conversations with the President, although he said that Trump never had asserted executive privilege to block him from sharing details with the committee.
Sessions said he did not recuse himself because he felt he was a subject of the investigation himself but rather because he felt he was required to by Justice Department rules.
Additionally, if Comey had been concerned about meeting with the president one-on-one, a concern to which he testified last week, Sessions said Comey should've informed another Justice Department official.
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. Knowing Sessions would not answer the questions, Heinrich proceeded to accuse the attorney general of obstruction - allegations of obstruction having become a Democratic fetish now that the Obama administration is no longer in power and matters such as "Fast and Furious" and the IRS abuse of conservative groups are no longer the focus of congressional hearings. Sessions recused himself from the Russian Federation investigation in March after the revelations of the two Kislyak meetings. "I mean, what is this?"
Rosenstein said he would agree to dismiss Mueller only if there were a legitimate basis to do so, and an order from the president would not necessarily qualify. I'm following historic policies of Department of Justice.
Sessions also argued that his recusal from the Russian Federation investigation did not mean that he should be barred from his oversight duties over the FBI, following claims by Democrats that he should have not played a role in Comey's firing. The then-acting deputy attorney general was Comey's direct supervisor, and if he had concerns about Sessions staying involved in the Russian Federation investigation, Sessions said he should've brought those concerns to her attention.
"As such", he said, "I have no knowledge about this investigation, as it is ongoing today, beyond what has been publicly reported".
"You are not answering questions". He also refused to say whether Trump had ever expressed frustration with his decision to recuse himself. "I don't know, Sen".