“I am not stonewalling“, Sessions replied, saying he was simply following Justice Department policy not to discuss confidential communications with the president.
The attorney general said he couldn’t confirm or deny private talks he had with Trump regarding the firing of Comey. “Yet you participated in the firing of Mr Comey over his handling of that same investigation”. Comey’s decision to announce past year that Clinton would not be prosecuted over her emails was a “usurpation” of the Justice Department’s authority, Sessions said.
He called Comey’s move “a thunderous thing” and it caused him to conclude “that a fresh start was appropriate”.
The former Alabama senator also denied media reports that he offered his resignation when Mr Trump was reportedly angered by his recusal from the FBI Russia probe, telling the panel he “will not be deterred”.
In addition to the denial, Sessions went as far to as to say it was a “detestable lie” that he had any collusion with the Russians on their interference with the 2016 US election. But he refused to discuss whether the president’s decision to fire Comey was related to the Russian Federation probe. Sessions insisted Tuesday that his answer was accurate in the context in which it was asked.
“Not one thing happened that was improper” in his two meetings as a senator with the Russian ambassador a year ago, he told the lawmakers, vowing to defend his “honor against scurrilous and false allegations”. There are none, Senator Wyden.
Sessions bristled at Wyden, telling the OR senator that people are suggesting through innuendo that he has not been honest. “But I’m asking you sir”, Warner said.
“You are obstructing that congressional investigation by not answering these questions”.
The Department of Justice appointed the former FBI chief to lead the investigation into Russian Federation following the firing of James Comey by President Trump.
Sessions said he did not hold an undisclosed meeting with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak at a speech by then-candidate Trump at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington past year. Sessions previously offered to resign because of tensions with Trump over his recusal decision.
During his own opening statements Tuesday, Sessions made a point of acknowledging the conversation between himself and Comey, stating: “While he did not provide me with any of the substance of his conversation with the president, Mr. Comey expressed concern about the proper communications protocol with the White House and with the president”.
President Trump watched Senator Sessions’ testimony while aboard Air Force One, a White House aide told CNN.
Amid the firestorm over Comey’s dismissal, the Justice Department’s Rosenstein appointed Mueller as special counsel to oversee the probe into Russian election interference and any collusion by Trump aides.
Despite having privileged access as the head of the US Department of Justice, hand-picked by Trump, Sessions said he knows about as much about Russian hacking as the average American.
Senators questioned Sessions on his encounters with Russian ambassadors, why Comey was sacked and if Russia colluded with Trump’s campaign.
“At all times throughout the course of the campaign, the confirmation process, and since becoming Attorney General, I have dedicated myself to the highest standards”, Sessions said, according to ABC News.