Published: Wed, June 14, 2017
World Media | By Shelia Harmon

Jeff Sessions Testifies Before Senate Intelligence Committee


Topics in Sessions' questioning could include those raised by former FBI Director James Comey during his testimony last Thursday.

Sessions, who requested an open hearing a day before his testimony, began his opening statement by insisting that such interference by Russian Federation into our election can "never be tolerated".

Though the Justice Department maintains that it has fully disclosed the extent of Sessions' foreign contacts previous year, lawmakers have continued to press him for answers about an April 2016 event at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, where both Sessions and Kislyak attended a foreign policy speech by Trump. "Americans don't want to hear that answers to relevant questions are privileged or off limits".

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.

Sessions informed Congress that he will appear before the committee rather than send his second-in-command.

Ahead of the hearing there had been suggestions that Sessions might have had a third, unreported, encounter with Kislyak, at the Mayflower Hotel in April 2016, where candidate Trump was giving his first major foreign policy speech.

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein says he will "defend the integrity" of the special counsel's investigation into Russian interference in the US elections. Al Franken that he'd never met with Russian officials.

Similarly, he did not answer whether Trump had expressed concern to Sessions about the attorney general's March decision to recuse himself from the Russian Federation investigation.

But there has been tension between the two men in recent weeks because Trump was annoyed that Sessions recused himself from the Russian Federation probe. That was not so, he said.

"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.

Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden of OR aggressively asked Sessions about suggestions arising from Comey's testimony last week that there was something "problematic" about his recusal.

What's most notable here, however, is the fact that Sessions himself asked for an open hearing before the panel.

"You raised your right hand here today and said you would solemnly swear to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth", Democratic Senator Martin Heinrich said. There are none, Sen.

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

"The innuendos, the leaks you can be sure will not intimidate me", he asserted. Remember, Sessions, as attorney general, was Comey's boss. However, if there were not "good cause" to get rid of Mueller, Rosenstein said, "It would not matter to me what anybody says".

At a separate hearing Tuesday, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, overseeing that effort since Sessions stepped aside, said he's seen no basis for firing Mueller, the former Federal Bureau of Investigation director he appointed as special counsel.

The Wisconsin Republican commented in response to a Trump friend, Chris Ruddy, the CEO of Newsmax, who suggested Monday night that the president was already thinking about "terminating" Mueller from his position as special counsel.

Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein said in the hearing she was disturbed by the reports on the possible firing of Mueller, saying that to dismiss him "would be catastrophic".

Sessions says he was not silent, saying he stressed to Comey the need to be careful about following appropriate policies.

"At the direction of the President, the Department of State has secured the release of Otto Warmbier from North Korea", Tillerson said in a statement. White House frustrations with the Justice Department spilled into public view last week, when Trump on Twitter criticized the legal strategy in defending his proposed travel ban. The FBI is part of the Justice Department that Sessions heads.

He said there are "facts I can not discuss in an open setting" that made him believe Sessions had to recuse himself from the Russian Federation probe and that Sessions and Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner knew he shouldn't have been left alone with the president.

"Let me state this clearly, colleagues: I have never met with or had any conversation with any Russians or foreign officials concerning any type of interference with any campaign or election in the United States".

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

Sessions said as attorney general, he is responsible for enforcing the laws of the nation, protecting the country from its enemies, and ensuring the fair administration of justice.

"I think it depends on the scope of the questions", White House spokesman Sean Spicer said. I don't even read that carefully.

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