Published: Sat, June 17, 2017
Sports | By Mabel Barber

Attorney General Jeff Sessions To Testify In Public Tuesday

Attorney General Jeff Sessions To Testify In Public Tuesday

Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Tuesday branded claims that he colluded with Russian officials during the 2016 election as an "appalling and detestable lie", as Democrats blasted him for "stonewalling" to defend the Trump administration over the Russia probe and the firing of FBI Director James Comey.

He also refuted allegations that he had met with the Russian ambassador at a function at the Mayflower Hotel that he had not declared.

"The suggestion that I participated in any collusion - that I was aware of any collusion with the Russian government to hurt this country, which I have served with honour for 35 years, or to undermine the integrity of our democratic process - is an appalling and detestable lie", he said. The former FBI director testified that the president spoke to him about the investigation of former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, telling him "I hope you can let this go".

The public testimony Tuesday before the Senate Intelligence committee should yield Sessions' most extensive comments to date on questions that have dogged his tenure as attorney general and that led him three months ago to recuse himself from the Russian Federation probe. "Wyden. There are none!" he said.

"I can tell you that for absolute certainty". Maybe most prominent is the Democrats' insistence that those testifying share conversations they've had with President Trump.

At one point, Sen.

Wyden asked Sessions about his recusal from the investigation and his role in Comey's dismissal.

"I'm not able to comment on conversations with high officials within the White House", Sessions said.

"Because you're invoking executive privilege", Heinrich interjected.

Sessions made clear a couple of times that he was not claiming executive privilege for himself, but rather that he was protecting the president's right, "if he chooses", to later assert the privilege.

That push-back came from top officials from the party's congressional wing, as well as from administration officials who actually have the legal authority over the special counsel and would need to be involved in any firing.

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But the attorney general added that he needed to not discuss his conversations with Trump, to preserve the president's ability to theoretically invoke executive privilege in the future. Here's one exchange between Sessions and independent Senator Angus King of Maine. Sessions replied that it is "longstanding policy" in the Department of Justice not to do so. Republicans were mostly noncombative, if not friendly to Sessions Tuesday, maybe none more so than Sen.

CORNISH: Republican senators like Tom Cotton of Arkansas offered more sympathetic questions.

"Do you like spy fiction?"

SESSIONS: Yeah, Alan Furst, David Ignatius. "You don't walk into any committee meeting and reveal confidential communications with president of United States".

"I know him to be an honorable man, and I think this is just a chance for him to put all that to rest", Cornyn said.

Sessions' Democratic critics quipped that's like refusing to answer questions in court, because you might later request immunity under the Fifth Amendment.

He said he had recused himself from the investigation under Department of Justice rules because he had been a campaign adviser to Donald Trump, but not due to any potential "wrongdoing" in relation to Russian Federation.

"Why did you sign the letter recommending the firing of Director Comey when it violated your recusal?"

Sessions said his chief of staff was also in that conversation, and that Comey "mentioned no facts of any kind, didn't mention that he'd been asked to do anything that was improper". Comey said Sessions said nothing, and that his body language indicated that there was nothing he could do about it.

He said he and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein had begun discussing replacing Comey before either of them was confirmed in their jobs.

"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", Sessions said.

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