Jeff Sessions denies secret meeting with Russians

14 Juin, 2017, 20:44 | Author: Claudine Rigal

U.S. attorney general Jeff Sessions vehemently denied on Tuesday that he colluded with an alleged Russian bid to tilt the 2016 presidential election in Donald Trump's favour.

Democrats on the Senate Intelligence Committee had plenty of questions for Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Tuesday, but few were answered.

Sessions has landed center stage in the ongoing controversy and criminal investigation into the Trump campaign's ties with Russian Federation because of a question Minnesota Senator Al Franken asked five months ago.

He came out swinging during his opening statement, saying that while he recused himself from any investigation into Russia's meddling in the presidential election, he did not recuse himself from defending his honor "against scurrilous and false allegations".

Earlier in the hearing on Tuesday, Sessions denied that assertion, saying he did not recall meeting with Kislyak at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, DC, where Trump gave a foreign-policy speech past year. On Tuesday, Sessions declined to say.

Democrats have seized on the possibility of a third meeting at that event to suggest that Sessions has not been forthcoming about the extent of his communications with the ambassador.

The attorney general confirmed elements of Comey's dramatic testimony before the same panel last week while disputing others.

Sessions insisted he stepped aside from the Russian Federation investigation because he was a principal adviser to the Trump campaign, not because he did something wrong or was a subject of the probe.

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Sessions, a close campaign adviser to Trump and the first senator to endorse him, stepped aside from the investigation in early March after acknowledging he had spoken twice in the months before the election with the Russian ambassador.

The core of the letter directly refutes Comey's testimony that he was never notified and gave consistent reasons for Sessions's recusal, based on his work with the Trump campaign.

"I took it as a concern that he might be asked something that was improper", Sessions said, adding that he told Comey to follow Justice Department policy regarding interactions with White House officials. But he said that the two never substantially talked.

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

Comey responded to the President's mention of the Russian Federation investigation. This was hard due to the fact that the president has not invoked executive privilege to prevent his communications with Sessions from becoming public. The admission led to his recusal from the Department of Justice's investigation into Russian collusion.

Comey testified last week that Sessions did not respond when he complained that he did not want to be left alone with President Donald Trump again.

"We have not had the attorney general in front of us, and have not had the opportunity to question Attorney General Sessions either about the ongoing operations of the Department of Justice under his leadership, which is supposed to appear before us every year, or about this specific issue relating to the firing of Jim Comey", said Coons. Republican U.S. Susan Collins questioned whether Sessions violated his recusal from the Russian Federation probe when he recommended Comey's dismissal.


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