The U.S. Attorney General denounced as a “detestable lie” any charges that he had been party to any Russian election inteference during the 2016 campaign, as Jeff Sessions sidestepped a number of questions from Democrats in a politically tinged hearing on Russia’s actions before the Senate Intelligence Committee.
Those calls have escalated since fired FBI Director Comey cryptically told lawmakers last week that the bureau had expected Sessions to recuse himself weeks before he did from the investigation into contacts between Trump campaign associates and Russian Federation during the 2016 presidential election.
He is set to testify hours after Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein appeared in the Senate and said he’s seen no basis for firing Robert Mueller, the former FBI director he appointed as special counsel to oversee the Russian Federation investigation.
“I am not stonewalling”, Sessions replied, saying he was simply following Justice Department policy not to discuss confidential communications with the president. Five days after questions were raised by former FBI Director James Comey, the Attorney General defended his decision to recuse himself from the Russian Federation investigation, denied that he had been involved in any wrongdoing, and pushed back against his former Democratic colleagues in the Senate.
JOHNSON: Jeff Sessions says he may have run into the Russian ambassador past year at a campaign event at the Mayflower Hotel, but that was not a substantive meeting and nothing to worry about, certainly not the big deal the media and former FBI Director James Comey seem to be making it now.
Sessions had previously recused himself from the FBI’s probe into alleged collusion between Donald Trump and Russian Federation. “Further, I have no knowledge of any such conversations by anyone connected to the Trump campaign”. “But this is the reason I recused myself”.
So King wanted to know why Sessions was refusing to answer questions about unclassified conversations. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, the person who would be responsible for carrying out any such dismissal, told a different congressional panel on Tuesday he would not fire Mueller without good cause and he had seen no such cause.
Despite Sessions’ statement about the reasons for his recusal, the attorney general did not actually step aside from the Russia probe until March 2, the day after The Washington Post reported on his two previously undisclosed meetings with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak.
Risch said, “Mr. Comey told us, when he was here last week, that he had very specific recollections, in fact he chased it down through the intelligence community and was not able to find a scintilla of evidence to that effect”. The Justice Department has denied such a meeting occurred.
He said Sessions had a right to either answer, ask for a private hearing, or invoke executive privilege. “There are none. I can tell you that for absolute certainty”.
During his questioning, Heinrich said to Sessions, “Your silence speaks volumes”. Sessions denied that it did.
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’ clash with the Democratic senators was the latest chapter in a saga that has dogged Trump in his first five months as president and distracted from his domestic policy agenda including major healthcare and tax cut initiatives.
“It is really unclear what he is going to say, and I am a little bit surprised because in the past, he has gotten into trouble when he said things and they turned out not to be entirely true”, said Jens Ohlin, a professor of law at Cornell University.
Sessions maintained that he had not been briefed on the Russian Federation investigation between the time of his February swearing-in and his March 2 recusal. “I did not attend any meetings at that event”. Senate Intelligence Chairman Richard Burr, R-N.C., told the hearing that on Monday night, NSA Director Michael Rogers spent two hours with the committee in closed session, and did answer the questions he had said he could not tackle in his testimony at an open session last week. “Americans don’t want to hear that answers to relevant questions are privileged”.