Sessions denies 'scurrilous' Russian Federation claims

"Why don't you tell me", the attorney general responded.

"You are obstructing that congressional investigation by not answering these questions".

"You're impeding this investigation", Sen.

Comey said he believed that Trump abruptly fired him last month because of the FBI's investigation into whether any Trump associates colluded with Russian Federation to influence the 2016 election.

Sessions refused to say whether he had ever discussed the Russian Federation investigation with Trump, arguing that he could not disclose private communications with the president. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) said did not "pass the smell test". Al Frankin's "rambling" question was the first time he had heard about it, saying he "wanted to refute that, immediately".

"This is a secret innuendo being leaked out there about me, and I don't appreciate it", Sessions added.

"He didn't recall this, but I responded to his comment by agreeing that the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Department of Justice needed to be careful to follow department policy regarding appropriate contacts with the White House", Sessions said.

The California senator tried to lock Sessions in a rapid fire question-and-answer style that didn't allow Sessions to give full answers to her line of questioning.

The attorney general, a longtime Trump ally, said he himself could not invoke executive privilege to refrain from discussing certain matters related to the executive branch and the president.

Sessions said he wanted to refute claims of collusion immediately.

"Let me state this clearly - I have never met with or had any conversations with Russians or any foreign officials", he said. "Further I have no knowledge of any such conversations by anyone connected to the Trump campaign", Sessions told his former Senate colleagues.

"Any suggestions I was aware of any collusion or to undermine integrity of the democratic process in an appalling and detestable lie", said Sessions.

"You recused yourself from the Russian Federation investigation", Democratic senator Mark Warner said in his prepared remarks.

"Mr. Comey's testimony last week was that he felt uncomfortable when the president asked everyone else to leave the room", Warner said. He said Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein would appear before the subcommittees.

Sessions confirmed Comey's account, but he placed less emphasis on the Trump-Comey meeting. The hearing comes on the heels of two canceled appearances, with Sessions citing Comey's testimony last week. The DOJ said the email was sent "specifically informing Mr. Comey and other relevant Department officials of the recusal and its parameters". "Whether I ever attended a reception where the Russian ambassador was already present is beside the point of Russian interference in the election", the Attorney General said.

Trump has expressed frustration with Sessions, one of his earliest high-profile campaign backers, but the attorney general's steely demeanor showed he was prepared to push back against outside criticism.

His recusal came amid news reports that Sessions failed to disclose meetings with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak.

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