Sessions vigorously denies improper Russia contacts

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The hearing lasted about two and a half hours, and included a number of testy exchanges.

After his confirmation hearing in January, Sessions was skewered for saying, "I did not have communications with the Russians".

Chairman of the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Richard Burr (R-NC) asked Sessions if Trump's campaign's foreign policy team ever met. Sessions answered by laughing and said, "We met a couple of times".

Sessions recused himself in March from a federal investigation into contacts between Russia and the Trump presidential campaign after acknowledging that he had met twice previous year 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.

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

When the committee gets an answer to that question, it will be a lot closer to getting to the bottom of the Russian Federation collusion allegation than it is today.

The first real fireworks flew nearly 90 minutes into the testimony. Sen.

Speaking under oath in front of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Mr Sessions insisted the former FBI director's investigation into ties between Russian Federation and the Trump campaign played no part in his dismissal.

Trump's decision to fire Comey, a move recommended by Sessions despite having already recused himself from the Russian Federation probe, prompted critics to charge that the president was trying to interfere with a criminal investigation.

Asked about the comment on Tuesday, Sessions described it as a smear campaign against him. There are none, Sen. "Wyden. There are none!" he said.

Democratic Senator Ron Wyden told Sessions, "I believe the American people have had it with stonewalling". Martin Heinrich, D-N.M., questions Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, June 13, 2017.

Jeff Sessions Testifies Before Senate Intelligence Committee
Schiff says that if Trump fires Mueller, Congress might name its own independent counsel to investigate the case. The Justice Department sent Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to testify about the budget instead.

"Certainly, the more President Trump opens his mouth and/or his Twitter account, the harder it will be for him and his associates to prevail in a fight over executive privilege - but that won't stop them from invoking it, and from requiring Congress or the courts to sort it out", Vladeck said via email. He dodged and weaved through the questioning like Muhammad Ali in his prime, and invoked such phrases as "To the best of my recollection", "I don't recall", and "I can't remember" with such frequency that it made you think he should consult a neurologist.

In the process, he appeared to blur the definition of what executive privilege is and how it works - and how it doesn't.

The attorney general said there were some things he couldn't talk about because of long standing policies about keeping communications with the president confidential.

Sessions also refused to answer many questions concerning his interactions with President Trump.

Following his testimony, CNN reported that Sessions has simply not discussed with the White House whether Trump had chose to invoke executive privilege regarding their conversations. I am asking when you knew ... But Lankford was outdone by Tom Cotton, whose face seems to be set in a permanent glower.

"Do you like spy fiction?"

"Yeah, Alan Furst, David Ignatius", he said. "I just finished Ignatius' book".

Legal experts said there was some merit to Sessions' argument. He also said he never had a third meeting with Sergey Kislyak, Russian ambassador to the United States. Angus King (I-Maine), the senator pressed Sessions on his refusal to answer. John Cornyn, it was former Federal Bureau of Investigation director James Comey still in the hot seat.

Hitting out at "scurrilous and false accusations" over his decision, Mr Sessions said he had "dedicated myself to the highest standards".

From the day he was sworn in on February 9th until his March 2 recusal, Sessions said he was, "never briefed on any investigative details, did not access information about the investigation".

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