Attorney General Sessions Denies Secret Meeting With Russia Envoy

15 Juin, 2017, 03:24 | Author: Claudine Rigal
  • US President Donald Trump delivers a statement in the Diplomatic Room at the White House in Washington DC

In his opening remarks, Sessions said he knew of no conversations between Trump campaign individuals and Russian officials about interfering in the USA election.

Throughout the hearing Sessions dodged questions on a panoply of topics using his dubious interpretation of executive privilege.

"I've earned a reputation for that at home and in this body, I believe, over decades of performance".

Testifying at a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing, Sessions, who was a close Trump adviser during the battle for the presidency, said it is a "detestable and appalling lie" to suggest that he participated in or was aware of any collusion between Russian Federation and the Trump campaign.

MARA LIASSON, BYLINE: Hi, Audie.

"I wanted to refute that immediately", Sessions said. "For instance, there has been a lot of conjecture about the Trump campaign colluding with the Russians and Sessions was a part of the campaign as the first senator to endorse Trump, but Sessions was having none of it". There was a suggestion that there may have been a third meeting that he never disclosed.

In a testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee last week, Comey raised red flags when he said that prior to Sessions' recusal, the FBI was aware of information that would have made his continued involvement in the Russian Federation investigation "problematic". Ron Wyden, D-Ore., pressed Sessions on why the attorney general actually recused himself from the Russian Federation investigation.

Wyden: The question is Mr. Comey said that there were matters with respect to the recusal that were problematic, and he couldn't talk about them. But I have to tell you, Senator King, I know nothing but what I've read in the paper. There are none, Senator Wyden.

Sen. Martin Heinrich, D-N.M., criticized Sessions for taking an oath to tell the truth and then refusing to answer questions. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., rejected knowledge of such information and said that he doesn't appreciate the "secret innuendo being leaked out there about me". And I've tried to give my best and truthful answers to any committee I've appeared before.

LIASSON: So very, very emphatic in defending himself.

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Sessions replied that only the president could invoke executive privilege, which allows the president to withhold information if doing so is in the public interest.

Sessions repeatedly refused to discuss private conversations with Trump on a wide variety of topics.

"With no evidence of collusion, wrongdoing, or obstruction of justice by President Trump or the White House, how much longer is this going to go on", said Republican National Committee Chair Ronna McDaniel, praising Sessions's "honesty and professionalism". What did Sessions have to say there?

Comey testified that he didn't mention details to Sessions because he expected the attorney general would soon recuse himself from the investigation that includes a probe of Flynn. She did, but wasn't satisfied as Sessions continued to evade.

Sessions' testimony came hours after Rosenstein told a different Senate panel that without "good cause" he would ignore any attempt by Trump to fire Mueller.

While the Justice Department has said Sessions recused himself in March because of his involvement in Trump's campaign, Comey testified that the Federal Bureau of Investigation knew of information that would have made it "problematic" for Sessions to be involved.

But the revelations forced Sessions to recuse himself from the Russian Federation investigation in March, and it is now being handled by a special counsel.

But the Senate's Russian Federation investigation has only been running for six months. Is there anything to this? But he said Tuesday he anticipated the conflict of interest and effectively recused himself on his first day on the job, and was never briefed on the Russian Federation investigation. And Rosenstein, it turns out, was testifying on Capitol Hill today about another matter, and he was asked about this in another hearing. "The president can't not assert it, and you've testified that only the president can assert it and yet I just don't understand the legal basis for your refusal to answer".

He says it "became clear to me over time that I qualified as a principal adviser to the campaign and it was appropriate and right for me to recuse myself". And so that's what I would do.

A series of Washington power-players had pushed back Tuesday against the idea of firing Mueller.

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