The Sessions Inquisition Comes Up Empty: Trump Unscathed After Attorney General's Testimony

President Donald Trump on Thursday seemed to acknowledge an obstruction-of-justice investigation into his firing of James Comey as FBI director, blasting it as a "phony story".

Trump wrote in his letter firing Comey that the ousted FBI director had informed him on three separate occasions he was not under investigation.

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions vehemently denied Tuesday, June 13 that he colluded with an alleged Russian bid to tilt the 2016 presidential election in Donald Trump's favor, AFP reports.

And he repeatedly refused to reveal whether he had spoken to the President regarding Mr James Comey's handling of the probe into Russian election meddling - which the former Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) director believes to be the reason he was sacked.

US attorney general Jeff Sessions was grilled for about three hours in front of the US Senate Intelligence Committee on June 13, but the hearing did little to move forward the committee's investigation into Russia's meddling in the presidential election, or to better explain why FBI director James Comey was sacked in May.

Mr Sessions sought to pre-empt questions from the panel about conversations with President Donald Trump regarding the Russian Federation investigation and the May 9 firing of Mr Comey, saying he "cannot and will not violate my duty to protect the confidential communications I had with the president".

However, Mueller III has now sought to question Daniel Coats, the current director of national intelligence, Mike Rogers, head of the National Security Agency, and Rogers's former deputy, Richard Ledgett. The special counsel overseeing the investigation into Russia's role in the 2016 election is interviewing senior intelligence officials as part of a widening probe that now includes an examination of whether President Trump attempted to obstruct justice, officials said.

The report came on Mr Trump's 71st birthday.

A White House spokesman said later that Mr Trump "has no intention" of dismissing Mr Mueller.

Sessions testified that he never been briefed about the US intelligence community's finding in October 2016 that Russian Federation sought to influence the outcome of the USA election.

The initial investigation focused exclusively on potential Russian hacking in the 2016 election and whether any Trump surrogates - like former National Security Adviser Gen. Michael Flynn - might have been involved.

The NSA said in statement that it would "fully cooperate with the special counsel" and declined to comment further.

Russian Federation has denied any such interference, and Trump has denied any collusion by his campaign with Moscow.

Most importantly, Sessions said he interpreted Comey's request not to be left alone with the president "as concern he might be asked something improper".

Coons on Wednesday said he believes both Sessions and fired FBI Director James Comey should appear before the Senate Judiciary Committee, to which he belongs, as it has jurisdiction over the Department of Justice.

Examining such possible charges will allow investigators to interview key administration figures including Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Rosenstein and possibly Trump himself, the source told Reuters.

On Thursday, Russian President Vladimir Putin said Comey had presented no evidence to prove that Moscow meddled in the US election, adding that Washington had tried to influence Russian elections "year after year", he said.

A former Republican senator, Sessions was an early supporter of Trump's presidential campaign, but sources say there has been tension between the two men in recent weeks because Trump was annoyed that Sessions recused himself from the Russian Federation probe.

Republican National Committee chairwoman Ronna McDaniel called the accusation in the Post unfounded and said it "changes nothing".

  • Larry Hoffman