Sessions testifies before Senate intel committee

Attorney General Jeff Sessions opened his blockbuster hearing before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday with a fiery statement denying any wrongdoing with matters related to Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Sessions' appearance before the intelligence committee is an indication of just how much the Russian Federation investigation has shaded his tenure. Sessions agreed with Comey in that conversation the next day that he, Comey, should not meet alone with the president.

Trump has denied he told Comey that he hoped the Federal Bureau of Investigation could lay off former national security adviser Michael Flynn.

Sessions is appearing before the committee for the first time since recusing himself from the Russian Federation investigation, but will face questions from Democrats about why he still played a role in the firing of FBI Director James Comey, which Trump later said was motivated by the probe into Moscow's meddling the last year's election.

Sessions appeared before the Senate Intelligence Committee just five days after James Comey, whom Trump fired as FBI director on May 9, told the panel Trump ousted him to undermine the agency's investigation of the Russian Federation matter.

Following the May meeting in Oslo, North Korea urgently requested another meeting, which took place last week between the USA envoy on North Korea, Joseph Yun, and the North's ambassador at the U.N.in NY.

A White House official said Trump had instructed Tillerson to take all appropriate measures to secure the release of Americans held in North Korea.

"I believe it would be unwise for Congress to restrict the discretion of the Department to fund particular prosecutions, particularly in the midst of an historic drug epidemic and potentially long-term uptick in violent crime", Sessions wrote in the letter sent to Congressional leadership from both parties.

Senate minority leader Chuck Schemer said on Monday, "Recommending director Comey's firing would seem to be a violation of his recusal, and attorney general Sessions needs to answer for that". Such a move would create a firestorm coming weeks after Trump fired FBI Director James Comey. Charles Schumer of NY, the Senate's top Democrat.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions, left, shakes hands with Sen. "To get into a hypothetical at this point would be premature".

Sessions' testimony comes just five days after Comey appeared before the same committee to discuss his interactions with President Trump and the Russian Federation investigation. Sessions reportedly offered to resign in wake of the president's criticism.

Wall Street has been impervious to the goings-on in Washington and on Tuesday ignored Sessions' testimony.

Comey said Trump told Sessions and other administration officials to leave the room before Trump asked him in February to drop a probe into former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn's contacts with Russian Federation.

Sessions told Trump he was "honored" to be able to serve him. I attended a reception with my staff that included at least two dozen people and President Trump, though I do recall several conversations that I had during that pre-speech reception, I do not have any recollection of meeting or talking to the Russian ambassador or any other Russian officials. if any brief interaction occurred in passing with the Russian ambassador during that reception, I do not remember it. after the speech, I was interviewed by the news media, there was an area for that in a different room, and then I left the hotel.

Towards the end of his opening statement, Sessions said that President Trump's agenda is to improve the lives of the American people, and that he shares that agenda with the president.

Sessions said on Tuesday he did not recuse himself because he felt he was a subject of the investigation himself but rather because he felt he was required to by Justice Department rules. Trump has suggested there might be tapes of his encounters with Comey; Comey said last week that "lordy" he hopes there are. "I was honestly concerned that he might lie about the nature of our meeting, and so I thought it really important to document", the ex-FBI director testified. He never, he insisted, knew anything about the Russian Federation probe or had any role in it.

- Did Comey ask you not to let the president contact him directly?

Democratic senators pressed Sessions on the legal rationale for his refusal to discuss those private conversations, as Sessions acknowledged that Trump had not asserted executive privilege around the hearing. "Totally illegal? Very 'cowardly!'"

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