Attorney General Jeff Sessions gestures as he testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, June 13, 2017, before the Senate Intelligence Committee hearing about his role in the firing of James Comey, his Russian contacts during the campaign and his decision to recuse from an investigation into possible ties between Moscow and associates of President Donald Trump.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions faced a wide range of questions during his Senate hearing - including about his taste in entertainment. The former Federal Bureau of Investigation director discussed a host of issues surrounding Russia's meddling in the 2016 presidential election, though his remarks also raised questions that may be directed at Sessions. Sessions said he did not mislead Congress because the encounters were part of his job as a USA senator, not as a Trump campaign representative.
Sessions also argued that his recusal from the Russian Federation investigation did not mean that he should be barred from his oversight duties over the FBI, following claims by Democrats that he should have not played a role in Comey's firing.
"T$3 he 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 honor for 35 years, or to undermine the integrity of our democratic process, is an appalling and detestable lie", he said. Does he simply want to get his side of the story out following Comey's testimony?
Comey said the attorney general didn't say anything, but the attorney general's body language "gave me the sense like 'what am I going to do?'". After learning that members of the appropriations committee meant to ask him questions about the Russian Federation investigation, Sessions notified the House and Senate committees' leadership that he would be changing his schedule because "the Senate Intelligence Committee is the most appropriate forum for such matters". Ron Wyden of Oregon.
Sessions said during his hearing he is not sure if he would be able to answer the questions in a closed session. While the Senate has a long tradition of voting to confirm fellow members even across party lines, Sessions' confirmation was a squeaker at 52 yes votes to 47 nos.
Sessions criticized Comey's handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation, which the White House had initially cited as the ostensible reason for his firing.
"I can not answer that because it was a communication by the president". He was originally scheduled to testify on President Trump's budget before the House and Senate Appropriations Committees, but now Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein will take his place. He never, he insisted, knew anything about the Russian Federation probe or had any role in it.More news: Paul Ryan says everyone should just let Robert Mueller do his job
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Sessions supported President Trump on the campaign trail, and previously acknowledged two meetings with the Russian ambassador during the course of the campaign.
Lawmakers for weeks have demanded answers from Sessions, particularly about meetings he had last summer and fall with the Russian ambassador to the United States.
He was asked about the event several times, and said at one point, "If any brief interaction occurred in passing with the Russian ambassador during that reception, I do not remember it".
"You raised your right hand here today and said you would solemnly swear to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth", Democratic Senator Martin Heinrich said.
Mr Comey had also said that Mr Sessions had lingered in the Oval Office following a group meeting, just before the private encounter during which he has said the president asked him to pull back on his investigation of former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.
Some questioned why someone with such a bad memory was the head of the US Department of Justice. Sessions replied that he "possibly had a meeting, but I still do not recall it". "But that in itself is not problematic".