US Attorney General Jeff Sessions brands Russia collusion claims a detestable lie

In a hearing before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday, Sessions forcefully denied that he had any involvement with or knowledge of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian Federation in the 2016 election.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions faced a wide range of questions during his Senate hearing - including about his taste in entertainment.

Former FBI Director James Comey told senators in a closed session Thursday about a "possible third interaction" between Sessions and "Russian officials" a year ago, according to NBC News.

After ex-FBI Director James Comey testified last week that Sessions was dismissed from the Oval Office so President Trump could try to persuade him to drop an investigation into Michael Flynn (his disgraced former national security advisor) many questions lingered.

Some members of the Intelligence Committee, frustrated by the tight-lipped performance of other administration officials last week, said they were not going to allow Sessions to follow suit.

Mr Sessions refused to say whether he had ever discussed the Russian Federation investigation with Mr Trump, arguing that he could not disclose private communications with the president. Sessions said he did not have an undisclosed meeting with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak in the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, contradicting reports that the Federal Bureau of Investigation had been investigating whether such contacts took place.

Democratic senators have seized on the possibility of a third meeting to suggest that Sessions has not been forthcoming about the extent of his communications with the ambassador. Sens. Al Franken of Minnesota and Patrick Leahy of Vermont have sought an FBI investigation and have requested to be briefed on what the bureau knows about any such encounter.

Sessions, a close campaign adviser to Donald Trump and the first senator to endorse him, stepped aside from the investigation in early March after acknowledging he had spoken twice in the months before the election with the Russian ambassador. "I'll answer in closed session.'" After Heinrich noted that Sessions had no legal right to remain silent, and the president had not exerted executive privilege, Sessions responded by stating outright that his unwillingness to respond was an attempt to protect the president. That was not so, he said.

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.

Comey himself had a riveting appearance before the same Senate panel last week, with some key moments centered on Sessions.

Wyden asked Sessions what problematic issues existed.

"If I don't qualify, it you'll accuse me of lying so I need to be correct as best as I can". There are none, Sen. "There are none, Sen Wyden, there are none", Mr Sessions insisted, his voice rising. "People are suggesting through innuendo that I have been not honest. and I've tried to be honest".

"The answer is, yes I consulted", Sessions said.

The North Carolina Republican senator gave the update Tuesday at the beginning of an open hearing to hear testimony from Attorney General Jeff Sessions. She then brought up the president's interview with NBC Nightly News, in which Trump acknowledged that Comey's dismissal was related to the Russian Federation probe. He also assured the panel that he would not boot independent counsel Robert Mueller, though he admitted that decision might not be up to him. Comey told the intelligence committee in a closed session that Sessions may have had a third, undisclosed interaction with Russia's ambassador to the USA, according to people familiar with the briefing.

Asked about Comey's firing, Sessions said Comey's decision to announce that Hillary Clinton would not be prosecuted over her emails was a "usurpation" of the Justice Department's authority. The technicalities of his repeated evasions were therefore of substantive importance to the future of Congress' investigations of the Comey firing. Comey's decision to announce previous year that Clinton would not be prosecuted over her emails was a "usurpation" of the Justice Department's authority, Sessions said.

-Sessions said he trusted Comey to do his job well, and that's why he didn't get involved when Comey expressed concern about the president interfering in the FBI investigation.

SESSIONS: Senator, I'm protecting the president's constitutional right by not giving it away before he has a chance to review it. "It did not violate my recusal", Sessions rebutted, throwing in a nonsensical explanation for good measure: "That would be the answer to that, and the letter that I signed represented my views that had been formulated for some time".

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