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What we learned at the Sessions hearing

What we learned at the Sessions hearing

"The suggestion that I participated in any collusion.is an appalling and detestable lie", Sessions said.

Sen. Christopher A. Coons (D., Del.) asked Rosenstein: Why would the deputy attorney general have written a memo to Sessions that was "exclusively" about a matter from which Sessions was recused? Dianne Feinstein about whether he spoke with President Donald Trump about Comey's firing, Sessions said: "I'm not able to discuss or confirm or deny the nature of private conversations that I may have had with the president on this subject or others".

"The suggestion that I participated in any collusion, that I was aware of any collusion with the Russian government, or hurt this country which I have served with honor for 35 years, or to undermine the integrity of our democratic process, is an appalling and detestable lie", Sessions said.His testimony comes just six days after James Comey, the fired Federal Bureau of Investigation director, appeared before the same committee.

Sessions said he was, indeed, "one of the last ones" to leave the White House after a meeting on February 14. Comey testified that in the privacy of the Oval Office, the President asked him to let the investigation into former national security adviser Michael Flynn drop.

Unless Congress actually decides to subpoena Sessions for the information he was unwilling to provide, the "stonewalling can be used an excuse" for lawmakers not to do their job, said Andy Wright, who served in the White House as an associate counsel to president Obama. "He believes it is important for the American people to hear the truth directly from him and looks forward to answering the committee's questions tomorrow", DOJ spokeswoman Sarah Isgur Flores said in a statement, relayed by NPR's Carrie Johnson.

As Trump once claimed, Comey reassured him repeatedly that he, himself, was not under investigation at the time.

Mueller also won votes of support Tuesday from the top two Republicans in Congress, House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, both of whom said they have confidence in him.

Even before Sessions testified, attention in Washington swiveled to whether Trump might seek to fire Robert Mueller, named last month by the Justice Department to head a federal probe into the Russian Federation issue.

Using vague legal justification, Sessions shut down potentially important lines of investigative questioning - and that may be exactly how the White House wants it. An order from the president would not necessarily qualify, he said. "Further, I have no knowledge of any such conversations by anyone connected with the Trump campaign", Sessions said.

"I wanted to refute that immediately", Sessions said.

In the gaggle on Air Force One on Tuesday, White House deputy press secretary Sarah Sanders said the President wasn't able to watch "much of it", but from "what he did see and what he heard, he thought that attorney general Sessions did a very good job and in particular was very strong on the point that there was no collusion between Russian Federation and the Trump campaign".

"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 said.

SHAPIRO: To help us understand the principle that allows Sessions to avoid answering these questions, we're joined by Steve Vladeck.

That remark came after revelations that Sessions had met with Russia's ambassador to the USA last year, despite testifying under oath during a confirmation hearing that he "did not have communications with the Russians".

Then Sessions downplayed Comey's request that he never be left in the room alone with Trump again, saying, "he gave me no detail about what it was that he was concerned about".

An apparent fracture on the committee even emerged when, after Chairman Richard Burr said they were intensely focused on Russian interference in the election, Sen.

When asked if he has had any other meetings with Russian officials, Sessions said: "I have wracked my brain and I do not believe so".

"They have gone down lots of other rabbit trails, but not that question".

"I know how this will be discussed, but that's the rule that's been long adhered to by Department of Justice, as you know, Sen".

He and Mr. Trump have dramatically differing accounts of the several private meetings they held before Mr. Comey's firing.

Then, Sessions paused a second, before dialing up his response.

Comey was overseeing thousands of investigations at the time of his firing, Sessions argued, so the fact that he was recused from just one of them shouldn't mean he couldn't make a judgment call on Comey's leadership abilities.


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