I didn't plot with Russia, Jeff Sessions tells US Senate

Marco Green
June 14, 2017

He vowed to defend his honor "against scurrilous and false allegations".

Catch up on Sessions's testimony with the recap of CBC's live blog of the hearing.

But Sessions disputed that was why he lingered, suggesting there was really nothing to it.

Sessions was attending his own hearing regarding the ongoing Russian Federation investigation, and particularly focused on some claims made by former FBI Director James Comey.

Testifying at a Senate hearing, Sessions, who was a close Trump adviser during the battle for the presidency, said it was a "detestable and appalling lie" to suggest that he participated in or was aware of any collusion between Russian Federation and the Trump campaign.

Comey said that, after an encounter with President Donald Trump in which he said Trump pressured him to back off an investigation into the former national security adviser, he had "implored" Sessions to make sure he was never left alone with the president again - but that Sessions didn't respond. "I am following the historic policies of the Department of Justice", Sessions responded.

Ron Wyden, D-Ore., pressed Sessions on why the attorney general actually recused himself from the Russian Federation investigation. Sessions said, voice raised. But Comey's very public handling of the Clinton email investigation was chief among them. "I felt I was required to under the rules of the Department of Justice". "They don't decide prosecution". Important because the president later said that was the thing that caused him to fire Comey. Similarly, he did not answer whether Trump had expressed concern to Sessions about the attorney general's March decision to recuse himself from the Russian Federation investigation. He added that, "to suggest that a recusal from a single specific investigation" would render him unable to manage the leadership of the FBI would be "absurd". Sessions said he did have two meetings with the Russians. A senior Republican staffer was reportedly incredulous when asked whether Sessions thought of himself as a foreign policy specialist and met regularly with ambassadors while he was a senator.

"Why don't you tell me? There are none, Senator Wyden, there are none". "And I'm trying to give my best recusal answer in committees I've appeared before, and really people are suggesting through innuendo that I have not been honest about matters, and I'm trying to be honest". That upset some Democratic senators who said he has no reason to avoid giving answers.

Senator Angus King, an independent, questioned Sessions' legal basis for refusing to answer. "You're impeding this investigation".

SHAPIRO: What are the key takeaways from the attorney general's appearance in front of the Senate intelligence committee?

The Senate committee is of one several congressional panels that, along with a special counsel, is also investigating whether any Trump campaign officials colluded with the alleged Kremlin plot.

"I don't recall that being discussed", Sessions replied.

Sessions has said that those meetings were in his capacity as a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

"There's no doubt that conversations that involve national security in a real sense are potentially protected by an executive privilege", Diane Marie Amann, a law professor at University of Georgia, told CNN Monday. That's right - after last week's blockbuster testimony from Comey, Sessions has a lot to answer for with regards to the sequence of events that have played out since President Trump took office.

"I have never met with or had any conversation with any Russians or any foreign officials concerning any type of interference with any campaign or election in the United States", he said on Tuesday. Sessions argued that in the context of the hearing, "my answer was a fair and correct response to the charge as I understood it".

And he can expect questions about his involvement in Comey's May 9 firing, the circumstances surrounding his decision to recuse himself from the FBI's investigation, and whether any of his actions - such as interviewing candidates for the FBI director position or meeting with Trump about Comey - violated his recusal pledge.

"I recused myself from any investigation into the campaigns for president, but I did not recuse myself from defending my honor against scurrilous and false allegations", he said.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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