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Heated exchange between Sen. Wyden, Attorney General Sessions

14 June 2017

Attorney General Jeff Sessions testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee Tuesday, fiercely maintaining he did nothing wrong in meeting twice with the Russian ambassador to the US during President Trump's 2016 campaign and also infuriating Democrats by refusing to detail any conversations he has had with the president.

Comey also said he told Sessions that he did not want to be left alone with Trump, because he didn't think it was appropriate for the president and the Federal Bureau of Investigation director to have private meetings.

KING: Well, between the election, there was a memorandum from the intelligence committee on October 9 that detailed what the Russians were doing.

"I know how this will be discussed, but that's the rule that's been long adhered to by Department of Justice, as you know, Sen".

Sen. Mark Warner, D., Va., asked the attorney general if he had confidence in former FBI Director Robert Mueller's appointment as special counsel to probe whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russian Federation.

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Sessions headed into the hearing with a big problem: He never reported a meeting on April 27, 2016, with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kisylak at a Trump foreign policy speech at the Mayflower Hotel.

The same thing happened last week when McCain first interrupted Harris to ask her to let Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein answer the question posed. Martin Heinrich (D-NM). But Democrats got nowhere with their protests, as they tried to pin down Sessions on whether he was invoking executive privilege (he was not), or what legal reasoning he was using to not answer. Sessions said: "It did not violate my recusal".

"The question is: Mr. Comey said that there were matters with respect to the recusal that were problematic and he couldn't talk about them", Wyden said.

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.

Amid the political firestorm that followed Comey's dismissal, the Justice Department last month appointed a special counsel to oversee the probe into Russian election interference and any collusion by Trump aides. He did not, at that time, tell me any details about anything that was said that was improper.

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But Sessions also fended off Democrats trying to quiz him about any conversations inside the administration.

"I have confidence in Bob Mueller", said top House Republican Paul Ryan, in remarks echoed by top senator Mitch McConnell. "I am following the historic policies of the Department of Justice". Comey said the president then leaned on him to halt the Flynn investigation. Sessions said he "racked my brain" and had no meeting with any Russian in his capacity as a Trump campaign adviser.

"It's conceivable that that occurred", Sessions said, "I just don't remember". "Americans don't want to hear that answers to relevant questions are privileged or off limits".

"No", Sessions joked, before admitting, "Yes, I do".

White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters later that Trump thought Sessions "did a very good job" and was especially "strong" on denying any collusion between Trump's campaign and Russian Federation.

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"I'm not able to invoke executive privilege, that's the President's prerogative", Sessions reiterated.