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US Attorney General Jeff Sessions testifies before Senate Intelligence Committee

14 Juin 2017

The Attorney General's appearance before the Senate comes a week after explosive testimony from former Federal Bureau of Investigation director James Comey, in which accused President Trump of lying to the United States public.

Sessions, a former Republican U.S. senator and an early supporter of Trump's presidential campaign, is expected to be asked to explain why he told senators in January that he had no dealings with Russian officials previous year while serving as an adviser to candidate Trump. "I recused myself from an investigation, but I did not recuse myself from defending my honor against false and scurrilous accusations".

He said he was never briefed on Russia's meddling in the US election and does not recall the president ever expressing concern about the matter.

Rosenstein said he appointed the special counsel, he thinks it was the right thing to do and "I am going to defend the integrity of that investigation". In March, the former Alabama senator and stalwart Donald Trump supporter claimed he didn't have any contact with Russian officials during the campaign, which was later found to be untrue. "Americans don't want to hear that answers to relevant questions are privileged".

Two senators say they are disappointed that Attorney General Jeff Sessions has sent his deputy to testify before a committee hearing on the Justice Department's budget.

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein says he will "defend the integrity" of the special counsel's investigation into Russian interference in the USA elections. "I hope you can let this go". According to long-standing Justice Department guidelines, contact between the White House and the Federal Bureau of Investigation is supposed to be routed through the attorney general or deputy attorney general to avoid the appearance of undue influence.

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein says that a history of political giving is not a disqualifier for those who work for the Department of Justice's special counsel investigating Russian interference in USA elections.

During his opening statement before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday, Attorney General Jeff Sessions began by attacking Sen. In addition, I provided supplemental testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee to explain this.

The testimony by Comey marked the latest chapter in a saga that has dogged the Republican Trump's first five months as president and distracted from his domestic policy agenda including major healthcare and tax cut initiatives. Pressed on the issue Friday, Trump said, "I'll tell you about that maybe sometime in the very near future". "This is a secret innuendo being leaked out there about me, and I don't appreciate it".

Sessions got angry again when Wyden pressed Sessions to explain what facts might be problematic about his involvement in the Russian Federation probe. However, if there were not "good cause" to get rid of Mueller, Rosenstein said, "It would not matter to me what anybody says".

One source said Trump called the House bill "mean, mean, mean" and said, "We need to be more generous, more kind".

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Wyden said Monday that Sessions hasn't engaged in anything close to a real recusal.

In a February meeting, Comey said, Trump told Sessions and other administration officials to leave the room before asking him to drop a probe into former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn's contacts with Russian Federation.

Importantly, as Attorney General I have a responsibility to enforce the laws of this Nation, to protect this country from its enemies, and to ensure the fair administration of justice.

Sessions refused to say whether he had ever discussed the Russian Federation investigation with President Trump, saying he could not disclose private communications with the President.

"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.

The attorney general, who recommended Comey be fired, declined to discuss his conversations with the president on the subject, citing a "longstanding policy" that Justice officials not comment on such private discussions. But he did allow for the possibility that he encountered him in a reception that he says was attended by a couple dozen people, though he said he had no specific recollection of that.

Democratic Senator Ron Wyden told Sessions, "I believe the American people have had it with stonewalling".

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.

On another hot-button issue, Sen.

Other key questions for Sessions today: Did he know that Trump wanted to remove Comey partly because of how the FBI was conducting the Russiagate investigation (specifically, because the Bureau wouldn't clear Trump)? "I don't know, Sen. Rubio, probably so", Sessions added, when Rubio asked whether any such tapes would have to be preserved.