Sessions testifies he was never briefed on Russian interference in election
- Author: Leroy Wright Jun 15, 2017,
Jun 15, 2017, 13:51
Sessions said he had confidence in special counsel Robert Mueller, and said that his recusal from the Russian Federation probe would stop him taking part in any hypothetical effort to remove him.
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. It later emerged that he had twice met with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak during the campaign, once at the Republican National Convention and once in his Senate office.
"I do not" Sessions said when asked if he knows whether the president records his conversations or not.
Congressional GOP leaders, including House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., both expressed faith in Mueller on Tuesday. Trump was not, Sessions said. "That, to me, is the smartest thing to do, the best thing to do".
"Special counsel has been in contact with the committee to discuss access", he wrote.
Millions of American believe the worst about their current president, claims every bit as toxic in their own way as "truther" smears against George Bush or "birther" smears against Barack Obama.
The former Federal Bureau of Investigation director also testified that he and the agency had believed Sessions was "inevitably going to recuse" for reasons he said he could not elaborate on.
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".
Democrats' intense focus on these questions during the hearing prompted several crackling moments of anger and exasperation from the attorney general, who sometimes raised his voice in response to tough lines of questioning. Why can't Sessions answer a straightforward question about whether Trump has ever expressed frustration at him for recusing himself from the Russian Federation probe?
He literally hit him with "stop stonewalling" soon as he started.
But when pressed to cite a specific policy, Sessions couldn't name one. Members of the committee said Sessions was impeding the investigation.
The abrupt dismissal of Comey prompted Trump's critics to charge that the president was trying to interfere with a criminal investigation.
Yet Democrats methodically grilled Sessions on this point as though his memory might suddenly be jogged: "You know what, Senator Warner, I did make a pact with the Russian ambassador to surrender the nuclear codes to the Kremlin following Trump's election". And the Department of Justice's inspector general must launch a full investigation to determine if the Department's independence was breached. I am concerned that the president still does not recognize the severity of the threat. But Sessions says he had concerns about Comey's job performance even before he was confirmed.
"I received only the limited information that the department's career officials determined was necessary to inform my recusal decision", Sessions said.
That leaves a lot of troubling, important questions for Sessions to answer.
However, Sessions refused to say whether he ever spoke with Trump about firing Comey.
Senator Angus King, an independent, questioned Sessions' legal basis for refusing to answer questions after Sessions said Trump had not invoked executive privilege regarding the conversations. And I would like to have him testify before us. It was later reported that he did have meetings with Russian officials in his role as U.S. Senator.
Burr made it clear Tuesday that National Security Agency Director Mike Rogers followed through on his promise to the Senate intelligence committee and returned to answer questions in private that he said he could not answer.
He did appear to forget some details. More persuasively, he dismissed questions about whether he had a third meeting with Kislyak at a speech by Trump at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington in April 2016.
"It's conceivable that that occurred", Sessions said. "I just finished Ignatius' book".
One thing he was adamant about is that he would never have colluded with a foreign adversary, in an American election.
"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 honour for over 35 years, or to undermine the integrity of our democratic process, is an appalling and detestable lie", Sessions said.