Attorney General Jeff Sessions heatedly denies improper Russia contacts

On June 8, former Federal Bureau of Investigation director James Comey reportedly told the Intelligence Committee during a closed meeting that Sessions may have had a third undisclosed meeting with Kislyak in April 2016 at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, DC, according to CNN.

During his testimony, Sessions insisted, under oath, "I recused myself, not because of any wrongdoing... but because of department regulation".

Attorney General Jeff Sessions testified Tuesday that he never told former FBI Director James Comey there were any issues with how the bureau was run before Comey was sacked.

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

On Tuesday, the Senate panel asked Sessions why, if he had recused himself from federal investigations into the Russian Federation matter, he was involved in Comey firing, which Trump has said was related to the Russian Federation probe.

Former campaign manager Paul Manafort's financial ties to Russian oligarchs and past role serving as adviser to pro-Russian former Ukrainian leader Viktor Yanukovych and Michael Flynn's ties to Russia have made both men key figures in the Russian probe.

Sessions is also likely to tell the Senators that he has been steering clear of the ongoing Russian Federation probe, a claim that was buttressed earlier Tuesday by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.

During his testimony Tuesday, Sessions said "it would be inappropriate" to answer certain questions about his conversations with Trump before the President "has a full opportunity to review the questions and make a decision on whether or not to approve such an answer".

He was involved in Comey's firing because he oversees the FBI, Sessions said, adding, "to suggest that a recusal from a single specific investigation" would render him unable to manage the leadership of the FBI would be "absurd".

While he had recused himself from the Russian Federation probe, Mr Sessions said: "I did not recuse myself from defending my honour against scurrilous and false allegations".

"Sen. Wyden, I am not stonewalling", Sessions said.

Sessions has landed center stage in the ongoing controversy and criminal investigation into the Trump campaign's ties with Russian Federation because of a question Minnesota Senator Al Franken asked five months ago.

"Mr. Comey expressed concern about proper communications protocol with the White House and the president", Sessions said. Sessions had written a letter to Trump recommending Comey's firing. Namely, they were upset with his very public handling of the Hillary Clinton email probe, which Sessions said was a "usurpation" of Justice Department authority.

Sessions is the first US senator to show public support for Trump's campaign.

Days after he fired Comey, Trump indicated in an interview with NBC's Lester Holt that he chose to fire Comey in part because of the FBI's investigation into Russia's meddling in the 2016 presidential election and possible collusion with members of the Trump campaign.

"I know what we're investigating", Rosenstein said Tuesday. He asserted that "I am protecting the right of the president to assert if it he chooses and there may be other privileges that may apply". He should have raised his concerns to Dana Boente, however, Sessions said.

President Trump watched Senator Sessions' testimony while aboard Air Force One, a White House aide told CNN.

The failure to answer questions drew criticism from Democrats.

The attorney general said there were some things he couldn't talk about because of long standing policies about keeping communications with the president confidential.

Sessions is the most senior member of Trump's administration caught up in the Russian Federation controversy.

"This President wants to focus on the people of this country to ensure they are treated fairly and kept safe", the Attorney General said.

Rumors have recently circulated that the president may seek to sack Robert Mueller, the special counsel appointed to head the high-stakes Russian Federation investigation following Comey's ouster.

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