Attorney General Jeff Sessions says he was never briefed on Russia probe

Ousted FBI director James Comey listens during a hearing before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence on Capitol Hill

Ousted FBI director James Comey listens during a hearing before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence on Capitol Hill

Kamala Harris (D-CA) pressed him on those policies and wanted Sessions to be specific about those regulations.

On another hot-button issue, Sen.

Burr made it clear Tuesday that National Security Agency Director Mike Rogers followed through on his promise to the Senate intelligence committee and returned to answer questions in private that he said he could not answer.

The U.S. Attorney General denounced as a "detestable lie" any charges that he had been party to any Russian election inteference during the 2016 campaign, as Jeff Sessions sidestepped a number of questions from Democrats in a politically tinged hearing on Russia's actions before the Senate Intelligence Committee. But the same official argued claiming privilege on a hearing without knowing the scope would not comply with "how the process works". Comey said he understood that the president had the power to fire him without reason, but was confused by the conflicting reasons he later heard.

Questions have arisen about Sessions' own involvement in the Trump campaign and his meetings with Sergey Kislyak, the Russian ambassador to the US.

When asked by Sen.

Perhaps most important, Sessions claimed that he knew so little about Comey and the Russian Federation investigation because he had effectively recused himself in his own mind long before he made his recusal official when it was reported that he had undisclosed meetings with Kislyak. Are they written down at the Department of Justice?

"He told me repeatedly that he had talked to lots of people about me, including our current attorney general, and had learned that I was doing a great job and that I was extremely well-liked by the Federal Bureau of Investigation workforce", Comey told the committee. "That would be the answer to that", Sessions responded. "Now you're not answering questions".

Using all the skills in filibustering and diversion that he learned in years as an Alabama senator, the Attorney General appeared to escape the hearing without major political damage.

"This is a secret innuendo being leaked out there about me, and I don't appreciate it", he added. He said that was a longtime policy at the Department of Justice. "You don't walk into any committee meeting and reveal confidential communications with president of United States". Sessions said he believed it was.

"You said you would solemnly swear to tell the truth the whole truth and nothing but the truth", Heinrich told Sessions. You can say yes or no. Paul Manafort? "You're impeding this investigation". "I'll answer it in closed session".

Sessions routinely said he would not answer questions regarding his conversations with Trump, but he delivered more than enough answers over two and a half hours of testimony Tuesday afternoon.

When asked about what the basis was for his refusal to answer certain questions, Sessions said: "I am protecting the right of the president to assert it if he chooses and there may be other protections that apply".

Sessions' testimony will fit into the evolving investigations being conducted by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who is looking for criminal misconduct to prosecute, including obstruction of justice, and four congressional committees - two House, two Senate - charged with figuring how Russians intervened in the 2016 campaign and whether any associates of Trump were involved. "She was interrupted for asking tough questions", Harris' fellow committee member, Senator Ron Wyden tweeted.

"Our committee will want to hear what you are doing to ensure that the Russians - or any other foreign adversaries - can not attack our democratic process like this ever again".

"There's no doubt that conversations that involve national security in a real sense are potentially protected by an executive privilege", Diane Marie Amann, a law professor at University of Georgia, told CNN Monday. "I don't think there's any American who would disagree with the fact that we need to drill down into this, know what happened, get it out in front of the American people, do what we can to stop it again", he said.

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