Jeff Sessions Testifies Before Senate Intelligence Committee

Marsha Scott
June 14, 2017

The attorney general, a longtime Trump ally, said he himself could not invoke executive privilege to refrain from discussing certain matters related to the executive branch and the president.

The attorney general recused himself not because of any wrongdoing, but because of a DOJ regulation that mandated department employees should not participate in campaign investigations on campaigns in which they served as an advisor.

Sessions said his recusal was not because he had done something wrong or was, himself, the subject of the investigation.

Trump's dismissal last month of former Federal Bureau of Investigation director Comey - who was overseeing the Russian Federation probe - has led to questions about potential obstruction of justice. Comey said he was uncomfortable and that he "implored" Sessions to make sure he was never left alone with Trump again.

"That responsibility lies with the attorney general of the United States", said Leahy, D-Vermont.

He told senators that Russians hacking the Democratic National Committee was "a serious matter" and illegal.

Wyden responded: "He said it's "problematic" and I asked you what was problematic about it". Sessions told appropriators that the Intelligence panel was the more "appropriate forum" in the wake of Comey's testimony.

Since then, questions have been raised about a possible third meeting at a Washington hotel, though the Justice Department has said that did not happen.

Those intelligence conclusions, and persistent allegations of improper interaction between members of Trump and Russian officials, have helped undermine Trump's call for better relations with Moscow. I am concerned that the president still does not recognize the severity of the threat.

Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, asked Rosenstein at a budget hearing Tuesday what he would do if Trump ordered him to fire Mueller, who is investigating Russian interference in the US elections and possible Russian ties to Trump's campaign.

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Sessions raised his voice to the Democratic senator pressing him for an answer, insisting there were no such reasons.

Sessions recused himself from the Russian Federation investigation in March after revelations that he had failed to disclose two meetings a year ago with Russia's ambassador to Washington, Sergei Kislyak.

Press reports had suggested that the meeting might have occurred at a Russia-friendly foreign policy speech given by then-candidate Donald TrumpDonald TrumpMayor takes down town hall's portraits of Trump and Pence Kucinich: "A co-equal branch Tillerson defends State dept. cuts, says America is "leaning in" MORE at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington in 2016".

In a February meeting, Comey said, Trump told Sessions and other administration officials to leave the room before asking him to drop a probe into former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn's contacts with Russian Federation.

Sessions appeared before the Senate Intelligence Committee just five days after James Comey, whom Trump fired as FBI director on May 9, told the panel Trump ousted him to undermine the agency's investigation of the Russian Federation matter.

According to Comey, Trump said of Flynn: "He is a good guy". There are none. I can tell you that for an absolute certainty.

He says Comey's decision to announce the results of the investigation without Justice Department approval was "a stunning development" because "the FBI is the investigative team". Sessions had written a letter to Trump recommending Comey's firing. "But that in itself is not problematic".

"I believe they are", Sessions replied. "I affirmed his concern that we should be following the proper guidelines of the Department of Justice, and basically backed him up in his concerns".

Mr Sessions, an early supporter of Mr Trump's election campaign, will be the most senior government official to testify to the committee on the Russian Federation issue, which has dogged the Republican president's early months in office.

Comey said he had gone to the AG, but had gotten stiffed, declining to discuss Sessions further. James Comey never heard Trump show any interest in Russian hacking after the inauguration.

Other reports by MaliBehiribAe

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