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Principale » 7 takeaways from Jeff Sessions' testimony before the Senate

7 takeaways from Jeff Sessions' testimony before the Senate

14 Juin 2017

Jeff Sessions repeatedly declined to answer senators' questions in testifying before the Senate Intelligence Committee - particularly on the question of his conversations with President Trump.

He said Comey never talked with him about the investigation.

Sessions insisted he has completely steered clear of anything having to do with the Russian Federation investigation.

Sessions said Comey did not give details on his conversation with Trump.

Sessions testified Tuesday that he recused himself from the current Russian Federation investigation only because of a regulation that required it because of his involvement in the Trump campaign.

"I can assure you nothing improper, if I had a conversation with [Kislyak]", Sessions said.

As for Comey's firing, Sessions told senators that his recommendation had nothing to do with the Russian Federation probe, 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".

Comey referred frequently to the attorney general and included the tantalizing tidbit that there were "facts that I can't discuss in an open setting".

The committee can hold Sessions in contempt when he doesn't answer questions - but that could elongate the testimony and could potentially take months. Pressed by the committee's chairman, Senator Richard Burr, Sessions seemed apologetic about his memory. "Americans don't want to hear that answers to relevant questions are privileged and off-limits, or that they can not be provided in public, or that it would be quote "inappropriate" for witnesses to tell us what they know".

On Tuesday, Leahy said in a Senate floor speech that Sessions' Judiciary testimony over Russian Federation contacts "could be construed as perjury".

Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., during Tuesday's Senate Appropriations Committee hearing on the Justice Department budget.

"Our committee will want to hear what you are doing to ensure that the Russians - or any other foreign adversaries - can not attack our democratic process like this ever again".

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"He didn't ask", the official said, "but going into a hearing and saying we are going to do this ahead of time is not how the process works".

The senator ran down a list of names, asking the attorney general to simply answer "yes" or "no". Sessions said no, a claim that was later shown to be false in a March report from The Washington Post, which reported two meetings between Sessions and the Russian ambassador, Sergey Kislyak.

In closely-watched congressional testimony, Sessions fiercely denounced allegations that he acted improperly during a series of meetings with Russian officials - or that he knew of any attempt at collusion by a member of the Trump campaign team.

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. But he said that he was unable to say whether he had discussed Comey's handling of the FBI investigation on the principle that his conversations with the President should be kept confidential.

"I do not believe that it's a sound position to say that if you're recused for a single case. you can't make a decision about the leadership in that agency", Sessions said.

After that meeting, Comey said, he told Sessions he did not want to be left alone with Trump, because he didn't think it was appropriate for the president and the Federal Bureau of Investigation director to have such private meetings. "I am following the historic policies of the Department of Justice".

Sessions confirmed Comey's account, but he placed less emphasis on the Trump-Comey meeting.

"This is a secret innuendo being leaked out there about me, and I don't appreciate it", Sessions said. "But that in itself is not problematic. I can tell you that for absolute certainty".

The appearance was Sessions's first sworn public testimony since being confirmed as attorney general in February, and comes as political intrigue pulses through the United States capital following explosive testimony by ousted Federal Bureau of Investigation director James Comey last week.

The official fired back at lawmakers over claims that he colluded with Russian officials during the 2016 election, calling it an "appalling and detestable lie".

However, Sessions refused to say whether he ever spoke with Trump about firing Comey.