Jeff Sessions: Russia collusion claim a 'detestable lie'

Staff  Getty Images

Staff Getty Images

Attorney General Jeff Sessions's appearance Tuesday before the Senate Intelligence Committee will be a high-stakes test for a Trump official who has become a central figure in the scandal engulfing the White House over Russian Federation and the firing of James B. Comey as Federal Bureau of Investigation director but has so far kept a low profile.

In his testimony last week, Comey said he and Trump had a one-on-one meeting in the Oval Office on February 14 about the investigation into the former national security adviser, Michael Flynn.

"I am not stonewalling", Sessions said.

Democratic lawmakers are skeptical that Sessions will divulge any explosive new details, especially since the attorney general could assert executive privilege regarding any questions about conversations with the president.

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.

"I don't think that's a question for me to answer", Rosenstein responded. Sessions requested an open hearing, though he made clear in his opening remarks and several times during his testimony that there were some things he would not discuss, including confidential conversations with the president. He served 12 years as FBI Director.

Though the Justice Department maintains that it has fully disclosed the extent of Sessions' foreign contacts past year, lawmakers have continued to press him for answers about an April 2016 event at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, where both Sessions and Kislyak attended a foreign policy speech by Trump. Sessions said he "racked my brain" and had no meeting with any Russian in his capacity as a Trump campaign adviser.

I affirmed his concern that we should be following the proper guidelines of the Department of Justice and basically backed him up in his concerns.

Rep. Adam Schiff, a California Democrat, says such a move would "be the last straw" for many in Congress and would have "echoes of Watergate", when President Richard Nixon dismissed special prosecutor Archibald Cox over Cox's subpoenas for White House tapes.

"Some of that leaked out of the committee that he said in closed sessions", he said.

Asked about Trump's own contention that the president fired Comey with the Russian Federation probe in mind, and regardless of any recommendation from anyone else, Sessions said: "I guess I'll just have to let his words speak for themselves".

Trump's allies have begun raising questions about special counsel Robert Mueller's impartiality - he's a former FBI director who has worked with fired FBI Director James Comey - and floating the idea that Trump might replace him.

"I did not have any private meetings nor recall any private conversations with any Russian official at the Mayflower hotel", Sessions told the Senate intelligence committee. "I have confidence in Mr. Mueller".

On Monday, in a unusual photo op, members of Trump's Cabinet lavished praise on the President, who has struggled to extricate himself from the Russian Federation cloud over his White House.

Rosenstein was probably referring to the possibility that Mueller would investigate whether Sessions violated his recusal or whether Comey's firing might have been an effort to obstruct justice.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said that the State Department had secured Warmbier's release at the direction of the president.

"I guess one reason why you wanted to testify today, in public, last week Mr. Comey in characteristic dramatic and theatrical fashion alluded ominously to what you call innuendo".

Sessions maintained that he had not been briefed on the Russian Federation investigation between the time of his February swearing-in and his March 2 recusal. "I never accessed files, I never learned the names of investigators, I never met with them, I never asked for any documentation".

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