At hearing, attorney general denies improper Russia contacts

On Tuesday, Attorney General Jeff Sessions testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee about his involvement in the Russian Federation investigation and his role in former FBI Director James Comey's firing. "Why don't you tell me?"

"No, Mr. Chairman. I've racked my brain to make sure I can answer any of those questions correctly and I did not". "You're impeding this investigation".

Comey said the president then leaned on him to halt an investigation into one of his top aides, former national security advisor Michael Flynn.

Asked to explain his decision, the attorney general said he believed he had to recuse himself under Department of Justice rules. Sessions responded by saying that it didn't violate his recusal.

"In any of your conversations with the president about the firing of James Comey did the question of the Russian Federation investigation ever come up?" Ron Wyden, D-Ore., right, with Sen. "Americans don't want to hear that answers to relevant questions are privileged". I replied "Senator Franken, I'm not aware of those activities".

The committee can hold Sessions in contempt when he doesn't answer questions - but that could elongate the testimony and could potentially take months. "Because they got to shut down any inquiry into what President Trump said or did, but they didn't have to face the political heat of citing executive privilege".

But Sessions appeared to have been invoking executive privilege on behalf of the president. "And when asked I said that to the president".

Some of the questions likely to be posed to Sessions will focus on his meetings with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak during the campaign.

"Further, I have no knowledge of any such conversations by anyone connected to the Trump campaign", Sessions continued. Sessions was adamant he - and the Trump campaign - had zero collusion with Russian Federation.

He said the intelligence agency needed a "fresh start" as it had "problems", adding that Mr Comey had caused "controversy on both sides of the aisle".

"I think the White House sort of had its cake and ate it too", Toobin said.

"Our judgment, as I recall, was that he was very close to and inevitably going to recuse himself for a variety of reasons", Comey said.

As for his role in Comey's firing, Sessions told senators that he and his second-in-command, Rod Rosenstein, had a "clear view. that we had problems there, and it was my best judgment that a fresh start at the Federal Bureau of Investigation was the appropriate thing to do".

Sessions refused to say whether he and Trump discussed FBI director James Comey's handling of an investigation into possible coordination between Trump's campaign and Russian Federation during the election campaign before the president fired Comey on May 9. Sessions on Tuesday defended his involvement in Comey's firing despite recusing himself from the Russian Federation probe.

The attorney general has acknowledged two meetings past year with Russia's ambassador to the U.S., Sergey Kislyak. He said Sessions didn't respond to that request.

-He denied that he recused himself from overseeing the Russian Federation investigation because he wasn't forthcoming about Russian Federation meetings.

The questions - and how they were asked - largely fit the increasingly partisan contours of an investigation that has hovered over the Trump presidency.

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