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5 things we learned at Jeff Sessions' hearing

5 things we learned at Jeff Sessions' hearing

Attorney General Jeff Sessions testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee Tuesday, fiercely maintaining he did nothing wrong in meeting twice with the Russian ambassador to the US during President Trump's 2016 campaign and also infuriating Democrats by refusing to detail any conversations he has had with the president.

Sessions, a close Trump adviser during the battle for the presidency, said in his opening statement that it was a "detestable and appalling lie" to suggest he was aware of or participated in any collusion between Russian Federation and the Trump campaign.

Earlier, Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., asked Sessions why, after recusing himself from the Russian Federation inquiry, he signed a letter last month recommending that President Trump fire Comey.

Sessions, a senior member of Republican President Donald Trump's Cabinet and an adviser to his presidential campaign, faced criticism from Democratic senators for declining to answer their questions relating to conversations he had with Trump.

Sessions contradicted Comey, who last week told the intelligence committee that after an encounter with Trump in which he said Trump pressured him to back off an investigation into the former national security adviser, Comey "implored" Sessions to make sure he was never left alone with the president again - but that Sessions didn't respond.

Reports have said Comey told the committee in a closed hearing last week that the undisclosed issue was a possible third meeting with Kislyak.

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

Another memorable moment during Wyden's questioning came right before the "smell test" comment when Wyden talked about Comey's testimony that Sessions was recusing himself from the Russian Federation investigation for a variety of reasons.

If Comey had information that Sessions would need to recuse himself, he said, that would have been "double reason" to talk to Boente.

"Sen. Heinrich, I'm not able to share with this committee private communications - " Sessions said, before Heinrich cut him off. Trump has cooled on him, Congress is set to interrogate him, and a special counsel could end up making him a focus of a criminal investigation.

He vowed to defend his honour "against scurrilous and false allegations".

When Senator Ron Wyden opened his five minutes of floor time by saying, "People are sick of stonewalling", Sessions grew testy. Comey's decision to announce previous year that Clinton would not be prosecuted over her emails was a "usurpation" of the Justice Department's authority, Sessions said.

Harris: Mr. Sessions, I asked for a yes or no. Senators of both parties were frustrated by evasive answers they received last week from Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats and other intelligence officials.

"The suggestion that I participated in any collusion - that I was aware of any collusion with the Russian government to hurt this country, which I have served with honour for 35 years, or to undermine the integrity of our democratic process - is an appalling and detestable lie", he said. What Sessions didn't explain is why he waited a month to tell the public - and his own associates - that he had stepped aside from the probe. Ron Wyden of OR asked Sessions whether there were any undisclosed reasons for his recusal from the Russian Federation probe.

Speaking at a news conference, Ryan said he knows Mueller and his team and has confidence in his investigation. And it is improper for agents of any of the department of any departments in the executive branch to waive that privilege without a clear approval of the president.

Democratic senators pressed him on the legal rationale for his refusal to discuss those private conversations, as Sessions acknowledged that Trump had not asserted executive privilege around the hearing.

According to Comey, Trump said of Flynn: "He is a good guy".


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