Trump's attorney general Sessions to face Russian Federation questions
- Author: Sonia Alvarado Jun 15, 2017,
Jun 15, 2017, 1:31
"We were there", Sessions told the Senate Intelligence Committee of the February 14 meeting.
Harris: Did you not ask your staff to show you the policy that would be the basis for your refusing to answer the ...
Democratic Senator Martin Heinrich continued the attack, accusing Sessions of "impeding this investigation".
Sessions lent his support to the special counsel, Robert Mueller, who is now in charge of the Justice Department's Russian Federation investigation.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions told the Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday that he couldn't recall ever raising concerns about Russia's interference in the 2016 election in the meetings he had with Russia's ambassador to the US Sergey Kislyak past year.
In writing a letter, did Sessions break his recusal?
Rosenstein said that if the president ordered him to fire the special counsel handling the Russian Federation investigation, he would only comply if the request was "lawful and appropriate".
Sessions said he had conversations regarding the "general strategic concept" that the US and Russian Federation could forge a more harmonious relationship.
In one tense exchange, Ron Wyden, D-Ore., said, "I believe the American people have had it with stonewalling". Kamala Harris, who was interrupted while questioning the attorney general.
Following his testimony, CNN reported that Sessions has simply not discussed with the White House whether Trump had made a decision to invoke executive privilege regarding their conversations.
Whether executive privilege is invoked "depends on the scope of the questions", White House spokesman Sean Spicer told reporters Monday.
Sessions hedged nearly all of his answers about whether/when he met with Russians, or why he was involved in firing Comey, or how he feels about the president's decisions, with: "I don't recall" or "I believe so" or "maybe".
However, Sessions refused to say whether he ever spoke with Trump about firing Comey.
Apple CEO to MIT grads: Tech without values is worthless
He marveled at the "big ideas" that have already come out of MIT, including trademark student hacks. "And in a moment of youthful indiscretion, I might even have experimented with a Windows PC".
"I'm not able to comment on conversations with high officials within the White House", Sessions said early in the hearing, citing President Donald Trump's right to keep all conversations between himself and Sessions confidential. "Further, I have no knowledge of any such conversations by anyone connected with the Trump campaign", Sessions said.
"The suggestion that I participated in any collusion or that I was aware of any collusion with the Russian government to hurt this country, which I have served with honour for over 35 years, or to undermine the integrity of our democratic process, is an appalling and detestable lie", Sessions said.
Sessions' appearance before the intelligence committee is an indication of just how much the Russian Federation investigation has shaded his tenure.
Sessions, of course, was appearing before the committee in regard to the ongoing investigation into Russia's interference in the 2016 election.
On several occasions, Sessions refused to comment on whether he had discussed the Russian Federation investigation with President Trump.
"I received only the limited information that the department's career officials determined was necessary to inform my recusal decision", he said.
"I can't discuss with you the nature of private conversations I may have had with the president".
He said he and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein had begun discussing replacing Comey before either of them was confirmed in their jobs.
Legal experts have told ThinkProgress that Trump's public disclosures regarding Comey's firing put into question whether his conversations with Comey are protected by presidential executive privilege, a legal doctrine that is not constitutionally guaranteed but that historically has protected a president's communications.
In March he acknowledged he met twice a year ago with Russia's ambassador to Washington, Sergei Kislyak.
At the same time, Sessions said the US doesn't have a sufficient strategy to deal with cyberattacks.
On March 1, The Washington Post reported that he met twice with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak during the campaign. Trump has managed to do it all before the six-month mark.
Although Sessions backed Trump's campaign, he was also one of the first administration officials to fly into turbulence.