Attorney General Jeff Sessions: I Wanted Comey Gone Before I Took Office

The Senate committee is of one several congressional panels that, along with a special counsel, is also investigating whether any Trump campaign officials colluded with the alleged Kremlin plot.

The former Alabama senator put in a shaky performance under questioning from his former colleagues during his confirmation hearing.

He started with a declaration well suited to old-school newspaper headlines, insisting that the claim he was involved in collusion with Russian Federation was "an appalling and detestable lie".

Asked about Trump's own contention that the president fired Comey with the Russian Federation probe in mind, and regardless of any recommendation from anyone else, Sessions said: "I guess I'll just have to let his words speak for themselves".

Senators will surely ask Sessions about these threads and others, but it is not clear how forthcoming he will be. Sessions confirned that Comey "expressed concern" about the private conversation, but said "I did respond". Ron Wyden: "There are none". Senators of both parties were frustrated by evasive answers they received last week from Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats and other intelligence officials. "What are they?" Wyden asked.

The North Carolina Republican senator gave the update Tuesday at the beginning of an open hearing to hear testimony from Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

Burr says the committee staff met with Johnson on Monday.

Sessions was adamant that he did not have a private meeting with Kislyak at that event. Comey suggested this indicated the attorney general's awareness that it was improper for Trump and Comey to meet alone together, given the specter of the Department of Justice's investigation into Russia's election meddling and possible ties with the Trump campaign.

Sessions says he has not had contact with Robert Mueller since Mueller was named special counsel into the Russian Federation investigation.

Sessions recused himself from the Russian Federation investigation on March 2, two weeks after Comey's Oval Office one-on-one with Trump.

Sessions revealed Tuesday that he and Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein had discussed Comey and his handling of the investigation into Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server while she was secretary of state.

Wyden then asked about whether signing the letter for Comey's firing violated his recusal from the Russian Federation investigation. "When you're recusing yourself, you are stepping aside, and this sure doesn't look like that", he said. The committee can also work with the Trump administration to come up with a solution.

The Justice Department did not immediately respond to a request for the DOJ policy Sessions cited during the hearing.

First, Democrats will grill him on Comey's revelations - for instance, his claim that Sessions appeared to recognize the inappropriateness of Trump's request to meet the Federal Bureau of Investigation director alone on February 14.

In recent days, Trump supporters such as Newt Gingrich and Rush Limbaugh have questioned if Mueller can conduct a fair inquiry.

Rosenstein appeared before the Senate Appropriations Committee at a hearing originally scheduled to be attended by Session Tuesday morning. He also noted that it wouldn't be appropriate for him to fire Mueller, as was reportedly under consideration by Trump. "The executive privilege", Sessions said, "is not waived by going in closed session". Susan Collins, R-Maine.

Sessions answered, "I don't recall it".

The deputy attorney general assured the Senate Appropriations Committee that Mueller will have "full independence".

The attorney general on March 2 recused himself from the FBI investigation into Russia's role in the election, saying he felt he was required to do so because he had been a prominent figure in Trump's campaign.

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