5 key takeaways from Attorney General Jeff Sessions' testimony

President Donald Trump speaks before having lunch with Republican Senators and White House staffers in the Cabinet Room of the White Ho

President Donald Trump speaks before having lunch with Republican Senators and White House staffers in the Cabinet Room of the White Ho

Attorney General Jeff Sessions told a Senate committee Tuesday that any suggestion he colluded with Russian Federation during last year's US presidential campaign was an "appalling and detestable lie".

Speaking before former colleagues, Mr Sessions also contradicted a contention made by former FBI Director James Comey at a hearing before the same panel last week.

Mr Sessions sought to pre-empt questions from the panel about conversations with President Donald Trump regarding the Russian Federation investigation and the May 9 firing of Mr Comey, saying he "cannot and will not violate my duty to protect the confidential communications I had with the president".

It was reported previously that Sessions met in secret with Russia's ambassador to the US, Sergey Kislyak, at that hotel when President Donald Trump gave a foreign policy speech during last year's campaign.

Sessions' answer echoed, but did not illuminate, the account of former Federal Bureau of Investigation director James Comey.

Sessions said it would be "absurd" to suggest that a recusal from a single investigation would render him unable to manage the leadership of the FBI. He also refused to answer questions about his private conversations with President Trump about the firing of former FBI Director James Comey.

When Democratic Sen. Al Franken of Minnesota asked Sessions if he was aware of any contacts between Trump campaign members and Russian officials, Sessions responded "I have been called a surrogate at a time or two in that campaign and I did not have communications with the Russians". "And when asked I said that to the president".

Sessions also testified that he had never had any meetings with officials from Russian Federation or anywhere else about interference in the USA election.

After then-President Barack Obama retaliated against Russian Federation with a series of sanctions, Sessions said he doesn't "recall any such conversations" on sanctions.

"I don't recall a conversation like that", Comey said. Sessions' involvement raised important questions on his judgement and ethics, she said.

"I've never received any detailed briefing on how hacking occurred or how information was alleged to have influenced the campaign", Sessions said.

Sessions said Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein prepared a memo on Comey's performance that "noted some serious problems" with his performance.

Sessions confirmed that he had left Comey on his own with Trump in the Oval Office alone February 14, though declined to say whether he was ordered to do so by the President citing the need to keep his conversations with him private. When Harris asked if he had consulted those documents before his appearance, Sessions said he had consulted with staff.

"The question is, Mr. Comey said that there were matters with respect to the recusal that were problematic and he couldn't talk about them".

When Senator Ron Wyden opened his five minutes of floor time by saying, "People are sick of stonewalling", Sessions grew testy.

The attorney general answered, "I took it as a concern that he might be asked something that was improper, and I affirmed to him his willingness to say no, or not go in an improper way".

SESSIONS: No, I don't believe I ever did.

His refusals to comment, including about conversations with Trump on Comey's firing, repeatedly irked Democrats.

SESSIONS: And secondly, I am telling the truth in answering your question and saying it's a longstanding policy of the Department of Justice to make sure that the president has full opportunity to decide these issues.

"I don't know Sen".

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