SESSIONS TESTIMONY | Sessions won't talk Trump conversations

"Any suggestion that I participated in, or was aware of, collusion with the Russians is an appalling and detestable lie".

Sessions will likely be asked whether he played a role in Trump's surprise decision to fire FBI Director James Comey last month - a move that caused Trump's critics to charge that he was trying to interfere with a criminal investigation.

Sessions said he was unaware of any details of the ongoing investigation into Russian meddling in the election.

However, Comey also referred to facts he couldn't discuss in an open setting that would have called into question Sessions' involvement in any Russia-related investigations had he not recused himself. But his former Democratic colleagues pressed him repeatedly on his contacts with Russian Federation and his role in the dismissal of Comey - who led the FBI's probe on Russian Federation until he was ousted.

Rosenstein said he is the only Justice Department official who could dismiss Mueller because Sessions has recused himself from oversight. "At all times throughout the course of the campaign, the confirmation process, and since becoming attorney general, I have dedicated myself to the highest standards". "I recused myself from an investigation, but I did not recuse myself from defending my honor against false and scurrilous accusations".

Sessions in March stepped aside from the federal investigation into contacts between Russian Federation and the presidential campaign after acknowledging that he had met twice a year ago with Kislyak. Days after that, Sessions also corrected his confirmation hearing testimony to inform the committee about the two meetings with Kislyak.

Wyden noted Comey had said it was "problematic" for Sessions to oversee the Russian Federation probe, for reasons he did not explain in a public setting.

Democratic senators repeatedly criticized Sessions for dispatching Rosenstein to testify Tuesday in his place about the Justice Department's budget to an Appropriations subcommittee. "I can assure you that none of those meetings discussed manipulating those campaigns in any shape or form". There are none, Sen.

After Wyden started to say something, Sessions interrupted him. This is a secret innuendo being leaked out there about me and I don't appreciate it and I've tried to give my best and truthful answers, " Sessions said.

"It is really unclear what he is going to say, and I am a little bit surprised because in the past, he has gotten into trouble when he said things and they turned out not to be entirely true", said Jens Ohlin, a professor of law at Cornell University.

Rosenstein, who has been on the job for six weeks, said only he could fire Mueller, and only if he found good cause to do so.

Sessions raised his voice to the Democratic senator pressing him for an answer, insisting there were no such reasons.

"I think it depends on the scope of the questions", Spicer said.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions is the arguably the most vulnerable member of President Donald Trump's cabinet.

Russian Federation has denied repeatedly that it interfered in the USA election, and Trump has denied any collusion by his campaign with Moscow.

"That's my judgment that it would be inappropriate for me to answer and reveal private conversations with the president when he has not had a full opportunity to review the questions and to make a decision on whether or not to approve such an answer", Sessions said. He asserted that "I am protecting the right of the president to assert if it he chooses and there may be other privileges that may apply".

Asked about media reports that he had met with Kislyak on a third occasion at a Washington hotel a year ago, Sessions testified that did not remember meeting or having a conversation with the ambassador at the event. I did not attend any meetings at that event. Sens. Al Franken of Minnesota and Patrick Leahy of Vermont have sought an FBI investigation.

On another hot-button issue, Sen. Sessions had written a letter to Trump recommending Comey's firing. When the room was empty, Comey said Trump brought up the subject of former National Security Adviser Mike Flynn.

Stephen Miller: "I don't recall him ever having such a conversation". "Rubio, probably so", Sessions added, when Rubio asked whether any such tapes would have to be preserved.

Associated Press writers Deb Riechmann, Sadie Gurman and Mary Clare Jalonick contributed.

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