Sessions, Wyden scrap over AG's 'problematic' role

Sessions is set to testify in an open session of the Senate intelligence committee starting at 2:30 p.m. ET.

But even if D.C. hasn't been gripped with the same fervor of "Comeymania", people are still anxious to see Sessions' appearance before the Senate Intelligence Committee, especially because it nearly happened in a closed-door session instead. Al Franken and Patrick Leahy - who initially pressed Sessions in his confirmation hearings on Russian contacts - wrote to Comey seeking an investigation into whether Sessions perjured himself when he said he had no contacts. The Justice Department sent Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to testify about the budget instead.

"I recused myself from any investigation into the campaigns for President, but I did not recuse myself from defending my honor against scurrilous and false allegations", Sessions said.

Sessions acknowledged having two other subsequent meetings with Kislyak, one in his Senate office and another at a speech at the Republican convention in July.

Comey said he held back because he expected Sessions to withdraw from the Russian Federation inquiry, and the bureau was aware of "facts that I can't discuss in an open setting that would make his continued engagement in a Russia-related investigation problematic". At that meeting, a day after Flynn was sacked, Comey said the president suggested that he ease up on the inquiry into his former national security adviser.

In addition to being asked about the content of his conversations with the Russian ambassador, he will likely be asked why he told lawmakers in January that he had no dealings with Russian officials past year when his staffers have since admitted that he met with Kislyak twice.

The testimony by Sessions marked the latest chapter in a saga that has dogged Trump's first five months as president and distracted from his domestic policy agenda including major healthcare and tax cut initiatives.

Shortly after the meeting, Comey said he confronted Sessions, saying that had become increasingly uneasy about being left alone with Trump.

But Sessions says Comey should have relayed his concerns to Dana Boente, who was then acting as deputy attorney general and Comey's direct supervisor.

Congressman Schiff, thank you for joining us.

Comey recalled that he felt "something big" was about to happen, and "my sense was the attorney general knew he shouldn't be leaving". The Justice Department has denied such a meeting occurred.

But, more than that, it was an echo of Director Comey's testimony also that the president showed no curiosity, no interest, no concern over the Russian Federation hack.

Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein said in the hearing she was disturbed by the reports on the possible firing of Mueller, saying that to dismiss him "would be catastrophic".

Sen. Ron Wyden, a member of the intelligence committee, told reporters he plans to press Sessions on his recusal.

-He denied that he recused himself from overseeing the Russian Federation investigation because he wasn't forthcoming about Russian Federation meetings.

Varney replied: "I do think it's a shame that our nation's business should be put on hold while we spend all of our time looking at James Comey testifying, Jeff Sessions testifying, about what I think, frankly, are minuscule matters". He responded to questions regarding comments Monday from Christopher Ruddy, the chief executive of Newsmax Media and a friend of Donald Trump, that Trump might fire Robert S. Mueller III.

"I am not stonewalling", Sessions told Sen. He has acknowledged two meetings previous year with Russia's ambassador to the U.S., Sergei Kislyak. Rogers went so far as to say that he couldn't invoke the privilege because he couldn't get a straight answer from the White House whether he should or not.

Sessions' appearance before the intelligence committee is an indication of just how much the Russian Federation investigation has shaded his tenure. "And I don't know Mr. Kushner well, but I think he picked up on the same thing", he said.

Several media outlets have reported that Comey told the Intelligence Committee in closed session last week that the Federal Bureau of Investigation was examining whether Sessions met with Kislyak at a Washington hotel a year ago.

Sessions said to Sen. The matter that Comey declined to disclose appears to refer to an ongoing inquiry over whether Sessions failed to disclose a third meeting with the Russian ambassador during a April 16 campaign event for then-presidential candidate Trump. But since the President can not directly fire the special counsel, the question lands squarely at the feet of Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.

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