5 things we learned at Jeff Sessions' hearing

Bruno Cirelli
Giugno 15, 2017

Sessions showed flashes of anger rarely seen from the 70-year-old Alabamian, calling any suggestion that he colluded with Russian Federation to interfere in the USA presidential election a "detestable lie".

During the hearing, the AG criticized Comey's "usurpation" of authority when the FBI director disclosed the outcome last summer of the bureau's investigation into Hillary Clinton's use of a private e-mail server.

In this podcast, Schiff discusses the ongoing investigations of Russian interference and Trump campaign officials.

He also declined to say if Trump opposed Sessions' decision to recuse himself from the Russian Federation probe in March, and whether Justice Department officials discussed possible presidential pardons of individuals being looked at in the probe.

Comey testified last week that as of February 14, he still believed Sessions had not recused himself - but that he nearly certainly would.

The tactic - combined with the earlier testimony of high-ranking Trump administration officials, who also deemed it inappropriate to divulge conversations with the president - may have given a roadmap for the White House to keep its secrets without the public-relations blowback of invoking executive privilege.

President Trump said in a press conference last week that he did not ask Comey to drop the Flynn probe. Just prior to Comey's testimony, in an interview with NBC's Megyn Kelly, Putin demonstrated how a former KGB operative can dispense total falsehoods without moving a facial muscle.

Mark Corallo, a spokesman for Trump's personal counsel Marc Kasowitz, declined to comment in response to an email query about Sessions' testimony.

"Attorney General repeatedly refused to answer pertinent questions from members of the Senate Intelligence Committee without offering a scintilla of a legal justification for doing so", the release stated on Tuesday.

When Comey testified, there was nobody carrying water for the White House on the Senate Russia probe - even though half of the panel is comprised of Senate Republicans.

Trump, he said, tried to get him alone, and then asked him to do things that made him squirm.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions heatedly denied on Tuesday that he had any undisclosed meeting with the Russian ambassador or conversations with Russian officials about the United States elections. "I felt I was required to under the rules of the Department of Justice", he said.

Comey is unlikely to play any sort of direct role in the investigation now led by special counsel Robert Mueller, his predecessor as FBI director.

But the attorney general pushed back hard when asked what those problematic matters could be, retorting: "There are none. So, I need to be correct as best I can", Sessions said. Sessions cited a Justice Department policy which blocks officials from testifying about private discussions with the President.

"I think he's incorrect", Sessions told Senator Roy Blunt about Comey's recollection.

An apparent fracture on the committee even emerged when, after Chairman Richard Burr said they were intensely focused on Russian interference in the election, Sen.

Comey testified that he could not discuss the specifics with Sessions because the AG was recused from the FBI's investigation of possible ties between the Trump campaign and Russian officials. In fact, Comey earned the widespread loyalty from the FBI rank-and-file by visiting field offices to hear and resolve grievances, although his handling of the Clinton investigation was another matter. I never asked for any documentation. Fifty-eight percent of Democrats said Comey hurt Trump, while 28 percent of Republicans shared the same opinion.

Most of the B-jokes included cracks at Sessions' southern accent, which flowed freely throughout the monologue and a line about how Sessions really seems to know nothing which "explains why he was the first Senator to endorse Trump".

To be sure, that's not outright vindication of Comey's description of his conversation with the president.

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