Later, Senator Heinrich clarified the “buckets” that responses from a congressional witness can fit in during an open session of a committee. Sessions said Trump had not invoked executive privilege regarding the conversations. Sessions’ Democratic critics quipped that’s like refusing to answer questions in court, because you might later request immunity under the Fifth Amendment.
Addressing allegations that he had unreported meetings with Russian officials while he advised the Trump campaign, Sessions said he had already acknowledged two meetings a year ago with Ambassador Sergey Kislyak.
The attorney general will also face questions about whether he met Kislyak on a third occasion.
Sessions, a Republican former senator, was an early supporter of Trump’s presidential campaign.
SESSIONS: You might have been very critical if I as an active part of the campaign was seeking intelligence relating to something that might be relevant to the campaign. Kamala Harris (D-CA) peppered Sessions with questions repeatedly cutting him off before he could answer.
Heinrich said Sessions’ silence Tuesday spoke volumes.
But Trump was reportedly not happy when Sessions announced in March that he was recusing himself from the federal probe of Russian meddling in the presidential election.
“I have confidence in Bob Mueller”, said top House Republican Paul Ryan, in remarks echoed by top senator Mitch McConnell.
Sessions refused to say whether he had ever discussed the Russian Federation investigation with Trump, arguing that he could not disclose private communications with the president.
At the same time, Sessions said the US doesn’t have a sufficient strategy to deal with cyberattacks.
The White House has moved to put a lid on speculation that President Donald Trump might fire the special counsel investigating the Russian Federation affair, while leaving just enough of a crack to keep the idea bubbling.
The exchange became more heated, with Sessions later telling Wyden: “I am not stonewalling”.
SESSIONS: I’m not able to be rushed this fast.
Sessions arrived at the Capitol with Washington roiling over reports that Trump was considering removing Robert Mueller, the special counsel leading the Russian probe.
Testifying last week before the same committee, Comey recalled that Trump had asked him to “let go” of a probe into onetime national security advisor Michael Flynn – exposing the president to accusations of obstruction of justice, a potentially impeachable offense.
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.
The reason the deputy attorney general is in charge is his boss has recused himself.
Wyden noted Comey had said it was “problematic” for Sessions to oversee the Russian Federation probe, for reasons he did not explain in a public setting.
In his letter, first obtained by Tom Angell of Massroots.com and verified independently by The Washington Post, Sessions argued that the amendment would “inhibit [the Justice Department’s] authority to enforce the Controlled Substances Act”. “Thank you Chairman Burr and Ranking Member Warner for allowing me to publicly appear before the committee today”.
In addition, lawmakers wanted Rosenstein to spell out the scope of Sessions’s other recusal, specifically with regard to the Russia investigation, which Sessions announced after reports emerged that he had not fully disclosed meetings with the Russian ambassador to the United States.