2nd LD: US Attorney General calls Russian Federation collusion accusation "detestable lie"

Later, when asked if he was aware of any other Trump campaign officials and their communication with Russian nationals, Sessions responded with a familiar refrain throughout his testimony. Sessions simply declined to respond-likewise, he did not explain specifically under what authority he had chose to do so. "There are none. I can tell you that for absolute certainty". He insisted that he recused himself from a single FBI investigation - the one into Russia's alleged ties to Trump's campaign - and that he did not think his recusal should block his ability to conduct oversight of the FBI and its director. Unable to shake anything out of the trees, Democrats vented much of their frustration at the Attorney General, saying that Sessions had no basis to refuse to answer questions from Senators.

"I do not", Mr Sessions replied. I'll answer it in closed session.

But Sessions said that despite his sense of problems at the Federal Bureau of Investigation, he never raised that with Comey.

USA intelligence agencies concluded in a report released in January that Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an effort to interfere in the election to help Trump in part by hacking and releasing damaging emails about Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton.

Despite Sessions' statement about the reasons for his recusal, the attorney general did not actually step aside from the Russia probe until March 2, the day after The Washington Post reported on his two previously undisclosed meetings with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak. Sessions said he "racked my brain" and had no meeting with any Russian in his capacity as a Trump campaign adviser.Sessions said he did not recuse himself because he felt he was a subject of the investigation himself but rather because he felt he was required to by Justice Department rules.

Sessions heads to Capitol Hill in a perilous position with his boss, with United States media reporting Trump has grown displeased with his attorney general, notably for his recusal on the Russian Federation probe.

Time and again, Sessions refused to say whether he'd been a part of any discussions about Comey's firing.

It is not clear whether Sessions plans to answer all the questions or if he will invoke executive privilege to avoid disclosing private conversations with the president.

Such a move would be complicated and potentially politically explosive.

Sen. Richard Blumenthal, who was not on the panel, said he wants a chance to try to wrest information from the close-mouthed attorney general.

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. Sessions had written a letter to Trump recommending Comey's firing.

His staffers have since acknowledged that he met twice with Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak. There is a special counsel investigation. In that regard, Sessions confirmed many aspects of what Comey had to say.

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. While Democrats complained about a lack of answers, Republicans countered that the Sessions hearing showed a lack of evidence that tied the Trump Campaign to anything nefarious involving Russian Federation.

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