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Jeff Sessions: I Did Not Recuse Myself From Defending My Honor

15 June 2017

United States Attorney General Jeff Sessions, in his testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday, called accusations that the Trump administration has inappropriate links to Russian Federation a "detestable lie".

But for Texas Sen. Namely, they were upset with his very public handling of the Hillary Clinton email probe, which Sessions said was a "usurpation" of Justice Department authority. He said he and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein had long discussed their concerns with Comey's job performance.

And he repeatedly refused to reveal whether he had spoken to the president regarding James Comey's handling of the probe into Russian election meddling - which the former Federal Bureau of Investigation director believes to be the reason he was sacked.

White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters later that Trump thought Sessions "did a very good job" and was especially "strong" on denying any collusion between Trump's campaign and Russian Federation.

Comey told lawmakers last week that he knew details that made Sessions's involvement in the FBI Russia probe "problematic". He did this forcefully, right from the start: Any insinuation that he had colluded with Russian agents in the dissemination of leaked Democratic emails prior to the 2016 election is an "appalling and detestable lie", Sessions said in the hearing's opening moments.

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We now know Sessions did meet with the Russian ambassador.

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. As security adviser during the campaign, Sessions said, he did not recall being asked by the candidate about alleged Russian interference in the election. Sessions said he was following Justice Department policy and would not discuss confidential communications with the president.

Sessions took particular aim at news reports about a possible meeting he had with a Russian official during an April 2016 event at the Mayflower hotel, where Trump gave a pro-Russian speech. "It also left us in a positon where it seems the only way the full facts will come out regarding Comey's dismissal is if Sessions is forced to answer questions". Today, Sessions said that he thought it was inappropriate that Comey decided not to prosecute her.

He says Comey's decision to announce the results of the investigation without Justice Department approval was "a stunning development" because "the FBI is the investigative team".

Senate Democrats have raised the possibility that Sessions and Kislyak could have met there, though Justice Department officials say there were no private encounters or side meetings.

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Rosenstein said he would not comply with any Trump order to oust Mueller absent a compelling reason and that no such reason now exists. And then he didn't answer my question.

Democrats have prodded the conversation toward the idea of GOP campaign collusion with Russian Federation. It was the safest way for Sessions to protect himself from any potential perjury charges when Special Prosecutor Mueller compares his testimony with the investigation's findings.

The hearing will bring sharp questioning for Sessions and likely some uncomfortable moments from the Trump administration.

Sessions' strategy throughout the hearing appeared to be to not answer any questions related to his conversations with president Trump.

In a dramatic and packed Senate hearing, Sessions vowed to defend his honor "against scurrilous and false allegations" and declared it a "detestable and appalling lie" to suggest he was aware of or took part in any collusion between Russian Federation and the election campaign that sent Trump to the White House.

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Jeff Sessions: I Did Not Recuse Myself From Defending My Honor