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Sessions heatedly denies improper Russian Federation contacts

Sessions heatedly denies improper Russian Federation contacts

United States attorney-general Jeff Sessions vehemently denied on Wednesday that he colluded with an alleged Russian bid to tilt the 2016 presidential election in Donald Trump's favour.

And while he had recused himself from the Russian Federation probe, Sessions insisted, "I did not recuse myself from defending my honor against scurrilous and false allegations".

"Any suggestion I participated in, or was aware of, collusion with the Russians is an appalling and detestable lie."

Comey himself had a riveting appearance before the same Senate panel last week, with some key moments centred on Sessions.

Wyden then asked about Sessions' interactions with James Comey, the ex-FBI director fired by President Trump. "I responded to his comments by agreeing that the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Department of Justice needed to be careful to follow department policies regarding appropriate contact with the White House".

"Let me state this clearly: I have never met with or had any conversations with any Russians or any foreign officials concerning any type of interference with any campaign or election". Sessions argued that in the context of that hearing, "my answer was a fair and correct response to the charge as I understood it".

Those calls have escalated since fired FBI Director James Comey cryptically told lawmakers on Thursday that the bureau had expected Sessions to recuse himself weeks before he did from an investigation into contacts between Trump campaign associates and Russian Federation during the 2016 presidential election.

Comey said Trump told Sessions and other administration officials to leave the room before Trump asked him in February to drop a probe into former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn's contacts with Russian Federation.

Sessions recused himself from the Russian Federation investigation on March 2, two weeks after Comey's Oval Office one-on-one with Trump.

Addressing allegations that he had unreported meetings with Russian officials while he advised the Trump campaign, Sessions said he had already acknowledged two encounters previous year with Ambassador Sergey Kislyak.

Sessions acknowledged that he had met twice with Kislyak - once during the Republican National Convention and once in his Senate office - and he did not disclose that during his confirmation hearing.

Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden of OR aggressively asked Sessions about suggestions arising from Comey's testimony last week that there was something "problematic" about his recusal.

Mr Wyden asked Mr Sessions what problematic issues existed.

"I. why don't you tell me? There are none, Sen Wyden, there are none", Mr Sessions insisted, his voice rising.

And when Warner asked Sessions if he would refrain from any actions to have Mueller removed, the attorney general replied: "I don't think that would be appropriate for me to do".

Sessions' appearance before the intelligence committee is an indication of just how much the Russian Federation investigation has shaded his tenure.

Spicer, the spokesman, declined to say then that Sessions enjoyed Trump's confidence, though spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said later in the week that the president had confidence "in all of his Cabinet". Kamala Harris (D-CA) for the second time in a week on Tuesday as she pressed Attorney General Jeff Sessions to discuss a policy he cited to avoid answering other questions.

Ahead of the hearing there had been suggestions that Sessions might have had a third, unreported, encounter with Kislyak, at the Mayflower Hotel in April 2016, where candidate Trump was giving his first major foreign policy speech.

This was among the many times Sessions attempted to explain that he is protecting the President's right to choose to invoke executive privilege in not sharing the details of conversations.

Lawmakers, including Al Franken of Minnesota and Patrick Leahy of Vermont, have asked the FBI to investigate and to determine if Sessions committed perjury when he denied having had meetings with Russians.

Senators will surely ask Sessions about these threads and others, but it is not clear how forthcoming he will be.

Sessions is now the only Trump official on the record, under oath, countering Comey's testimony last week under oath.


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