Attorney General Jeff Sessions gave more than two hours of sometimes heated testimony today, with Democrats demanding details of matters including conversations with President Donald Trump, interactions with the Russian ambassador and the firing of FBI Director James Comey.
Trump has recently expressed frustration with Sessions, who has come under pressure over his own Russian Federation contacts.
Sessions appeared before the Senate intelligence committee as part of its investigation into possible ties between Trump campaign officials and Russian Federation.
As for his role in Comey's firing, Sessions told senators that he and his second-in-command, Rosenstein, had a "clear view. that we had problems there, and it was my best judgment that a fresh start at the Federal Bureau of Investigation was the appropriate thing to do".
"Many have suggested that my recusal is because I felt I was a subject of the investigation myself, that I may have done something wrong", he said, stressing this was not the case. And by the time Sessions met with Kislyak at his office in September, then-President Barack Obama had already commented on the Russian hacking campaign and hinted at what could have motivated it.
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.More news: Manchester United signs Sweden defender Lindelof from Benfica
"Sen. Wyden, I am not stonewalling", Sessions said.
Sessions said he was, indeed, "one of the last ones" to leave the White House after a meeting on February 14.
Sen. Martin Heinrich, D-New Mexico, said Sessions' "silence speaks volumes". That's what was meant by Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein when he said Director Comey usurped the role of the Department of Justice prosecutors.
SESSIONS: You tell - this is a secret innuendo being leaked out there about me, and I don't appreciate it. I am concerned that the president still does not recognize the severity of the threat.
This "limited information" that Sessions said he received to make his recusal decision would seem to correspond to classified "facts" that Comey said made "his continued engagement in a Russia-related investigation problematic". What did Jeff Sessions have to say about that?
"We are talking about an attack on our democratic institutions and stonewalling of any kind is unacceptable ... there is no legal basis for this stonewalling", Oregon Senator Ron Wyden said. "I'm not going to follow any orders unless I believe they are lawful", and that "it wouldn't matter what anybody said".More news: Mueller investigating Trump for obstruction of justice, Washington Post reports
Sessions stated, "It simply did not occur to me to go further than the context of the question and list any conversations I may have had with Russians in routine situations, as I had with numerous other foreign officials". His insistence that there was no reason to recuse himself from the dismissal of Comey because it was due to Comey's improper handling of the Hillary Clinton's email case and not to end the Russian Federation investigation, as Trump himself said in a TV interview, was just not believable.
Lawmakers also asked Rosenstein whether it was appropriate for Sessions to be involved in the firing of Comey given Sessions's recusal from the Clinton email investigation, which he offered because of his role on the Trump campaign.
The abrupt dismissal of Comey prompted Trump's critics to charge that the president was trying to interfere with a criminal investigation.
At the same time, Sessions said the USA doesn't have a sufficient strategy to deal with cyberattacks.
"I know what we're investigating, and he does not", Rosenstein said to Sen.
"Declining to answer questions at a congressional hearing about confidential conversations with the President is long-standing executive-branch-wide practice", the official said.
During the hearing, Harris tried to extract a promise from Sessions that he would provide any documentation that would help the committee's investigation, however, Sessions only promised to review the rules of the Justice Department, and respond accordingly, reports the Washington Post.More news: Warriors take rubber series for 2nd title in 3 years
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