Attorney General Jeff Sessions testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee Tuesday, fiercely maintaining he did nothing wrong in meeting twice with the Russian ambassador to the US during President Trump's 2016 campaign and also infuriating Democrats by refusing to detail any conversations he has had with the president.
Asked about Sessions' remarks after the hearing, a Justice Department official pointed to memos from 1982 from President Ronald Reagan and the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel advising that executive privilege can apply to certain communications between the attorney general and the president, and that an agency head could ask Congress to put a request for information on hold until the president decided whether to invoke the privilege.
"Beyond that, what I said earlier, I don't have anything more to add", Sanders said, when a reporter asked if Trump has confidence in Mueller.
"The 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", Sessions told senators.
Sessions responded that he had confidence in Mueller.
In addition, lawmakers wanted Rosenstein to spell out the scope of Sessions's other recusal, specifically with regard to the Russia investigation, which Sessions announced after reports emerged that he had not fully disclosed meetings with the Russian ambassador to the United States. But his denial of the meeting quickly turned into ignorance of details of an event that may or may not have taken place. Sessions said: "It did not violate my recusal".
Sessions refused to say whether he had ever discussed the Russian Federation investigation with Trump, arguing that he could not disclose private communications with the president.
But Sessions disputed that was why he lingered, suggesting there was really nothing to it.
"I am not stonewalling", Sessions told Sen.
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Attorney General Jeff Sessions attends a Cabinet meeting with President Donald Trump, Monday, June 12, 2017, in the Cabinet Room of the White House in Washington.
Lawmakers grilled Sessions about his role in Comey's firing, his own involvement in the Trump campaign and his meetings with Sergey Kislyak, the Russian ambassador to the US. As Trump tried to shoo everyone out to talk alone with Comey, Sessions lingered, in Comey's account. Comey's decision to announce past year that Clinton would not be prosecuted over her emails was a "usurpation" of the Justice Department's authority, Sessions said. Kamala Harris about whether the DOJ policy that Sessions was referring to was in writing, Sessions said that he thought it was, but he didn't cite any particular document.
While he had recused himself from the Russian Federation probe, Sessions said, "I did not recuse myself from defending my honour against scurrilous and false allegations".
Sessions said it would be "absurd" to suggest that a recusal from a single investigation would render him unable to manage the leadership of the FBI. But his very public handling of the Clinton email investigation was chief among them.
If President Trump expected Attorney General Jeff Sessions to join his crusade to discredit ousted FBI Director James Comey during his testimony Tuesday before the Senate Intelligence Committee, he was surely disappointed.
However, Sessions refused to say whether he ever spoke with Trump about firing Comey. He produced a letter, in cooperation with Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein, that recommended Comey be canned for fumbling an investigation into Hillary Clinton's emails. A judge ruled against the administration, finding that any claim of privilege was undercut by other disclosures by the Justice Department about the operation. Trump has suggested there might be tapes of his encounters with Comey; Comey said last week that "lordy" he hopes there are.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions says he did not have third meeting with the Russian ambassador to the United States. Mueller was recently appointed to lead the investigation into whether the Trump campaign coordinated with Russian Federation to influence the 2016 presidential election.
Steve Vladeck, a constitutional law professor at the University of Texas School of Law, said that Sessions' responses on Tuesday struck him as "incoherent". During his opening statement, he made it clear that while he recused himself from the investigation into Russian interference of the 2016 presidential election he was there to defend himself.
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