Published: Thu, June 15, 2017
World News | By Carolyn Briggs

Jeff Sessions Testifies He Never Discussed Election With Russians


Tuesday's hearing would have been Sessions' first time testifying under oath since he was confirmed as attorney general in February. He instead testified Tuesday before the Senate Intelligence Committee.

"I did not have any private meetings, nor do I recall any conversations, with any Russian officials at the Mayflower Hotel".

"We asked them relevant questions and they basically said "We don't feel like answering" and that's not going to be acceptable (with Sessions)", said Wyden. The committee shortly after said the hearing would be open.

Before he became attorney general, Sessions served two decades as a Republican senator from Alabama.

It comes as political intrigue pulses through the U.S. capital following explosive testimony by Comey before the same panel last week, and as Trump has expressed frustrations with Sessions, one of his earliest high-profile campaign backers.

Sen. Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat who sits on the intelligence committee, said he fears that administration officials will "blur the lines between executive privilege and classification, and over-classification". "I know that there's probably. other places you'd both rather be today, but you've always looked at public service as something you did together, and it's good to see you here together". Since Sessions is recused from these matters, he would likely would send such a recommendation to Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein.

The attorney general will also face questions about whether he met Kislyak on a third occasion. "Until now, that is". "Further, I have no knowledge of any such conversations by anyone connected with the Trump campaign".

Kamala Harris (D-CA) pressed him on those policies and wanted Sessions to be specific about those regulations. It later was revealed he met twice with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, once as a senator and once as Trump's adviser before the inauguration.

Senators questioned if he had a role in the firing of FBI Director James Comey even though he had recused himself from the Russian Federation investigation.

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Sessions' testimony did not provide any damaging new information on Trump campaign ties with Russian Federation or on Comey's dismissal, but his refusal to discuss conversations with Trump raised fresh questions about whether the White House has something to hide. "Franken and Leahy, this didn't pop into your memory with the caution you had to report that this session as well?"

On Tuesday, Leahy said in a Senate floor speech that Sessions' Judiciary testimony over Russian Federation contacts "could be construed as perjury".

"In his opening remarks, Sessions explained that he "[did] not have any recollection of meeting or talking to the Russian ambassador or any Russian official" outside of the two conversations he had already disclosed.

Sessions was adamant that he did not have a private meeting with Kislyak at that event. Committee Chair Richard Burr (R-N.C.) then jumped into the conversation and told Harris to let Sessions speak.

SESSIONS: Yeah, Alan Furst, David Ignatius.

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

"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 accusations", Sessions insisted. Trump has managed to do it all before the six-month mark. "If he can not decide between those answers - if he can not distinguish between the public interest and Donald Trump's interest - then he is unfit to serve as attorney general".

"I am protecting the right of the president to assert it if he chooses", he replied, making a convoluted argument that he wouldn't want to retroactively deny the president's option to invoke executive privilege for Sessions's past statements in the future. Trump is looking to cut rape kit backlog reduction grants by $20 million, youth mentoring programs by $22 million and $70 million from Byrne-Justice Assistance grants, which help municipalities and states, including Vermont, fight crime.

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