Heinrich: Sessions' testimony shows 'concerted effort' to obstruct investigation

Sessions, a senior member of Trump's Cabinet and an adviser to his election campaign previous year, had a series of tense exchanges with Democrats on the Senate Intelligence Committee during about 2-1/2 hours of testimony as they pressed him to recount discussions with the Republican president.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions gave more than two hours of sometimes heated testimony Tuesday, with Democrats demanding details of matters including conversations with President Donald Trump, interactions with the Russian ambassador and the firing of FBI Director James Comey.

SESSIONS: You might have been very critical if I as an active part of the campaign was seeking intelligence relating to something that might be relevant to the campaign.

"I am following historic policies of Department of Justice", Sessions continued. But Sessions recused himself from the Russian Federation investigation in March after the revelations of the two Kislyak meetings.

Tuesday marked Sessions' first public testimony since he recommended Comey's firing last month.

Speaking under oath in front of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Mr Sessions insisted the former FBI director's investigation into ties between Russian Federation and the Trump campaign played no part in his dismissal. Sessions recused himself from the Department of Justice Russia investigation in March, but then signed a letter endorsing Comey's firing in May.

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

In his opening statement, Sessions also said he is bound to protect private communications with the president, suggesting he will not answer some questions about the firing of Federal Bureau of Investigation director James B. Comey.

It it appeared as though Sessions had consulted with a legal team - at the Department of Justice or the White House Counsel's Office, and burning that much time at the hearing without revealing any private conversations with the president had to be viewed as a victory.

As Sessions evaded specifics, Harris pressed, prompting Republican Sen. "I can tell you that with absolute certainty".

Last week, panel Chairman Richard Burr admonished Harris.

Losing patience with Sessions filibuster, Harris persisted, pressing into her next question, but Sessions was not finished.

"Mr. Comey said that your continued engagement with the Russian Federation investigation was, quote, 'problematic, ' and he could not discuss it in public", Wyden noted.

Saying he only knows what he reads in newspapers.

"The intelligence community seems to be united in that", Sessions said.

Sessions asserted that was not able to remember much of the details of his conversations or communications on the subject of Russian Federation. "But I have to tell you, Sen". "As such, I have no knowledge about this investigation beyond what has been publicly reported, and I have taken no action with regard to any such investigation as it is ongoing today beyond what has been publicly reported and I don't even read that and I have taken no action with regard to any such investigation". "You are impeding this investigation".

Cotton began his session by bringing up the previous Democrats who had asked questions, wondering aloud why a lot of them hadn't pressed the AG on the issue of collusion between Donald Trump's campaign and Russian Federation to hack the election.

During today's hearing, McCain scored points with critics by underscoring a key point that hadn't come yet in the hearing: Before 2016, Sessions had shown little to no interest in Russian Federation.

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