US Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Tuesday vehemently rejected the suggestion he colluded with Russian Federation to tilt last year’s election in Donald Trump’s favor, branding the accusations an “appalling and detestable lie”. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein will attend that hearing in his place, and Sessions will go before the Senate Intelligence Committee.
“You are obstructing” the Senate investigation, said Sen. Despite that recusal, he was involved in Trump’s decision to fire former FBI Director James Comey, who was leading the Russian Federation probe.
The Justice Department has said Sessions recused himself in March because of his involvement in Trump’s campaign, but in his dramatic appearance last Thursday, Comey said the Federal Bureau of Investigation knew of information that would have made it “problematic” for Sessions to be involved. Sessions previously offered to resign because of tensions with Trump over his recusal decision.
That remark came after revelations that Sessions had met with Russia’s ambassador to the USA last year, despite testifying under oath during a confirmation hearing that he “did not have communications with the Russians”.
“That’s just not going to be acceptable tomorrow”, said Senator Ron Wyden, a Democrat on the committee. “Americans don’t want to hear that answers to relevant questions are privileged”.
“As far as I’m concerned, yes”, Rosenstein replied.
“I think medical marijuana has been hyped, maybe too much”, he said during a follow-up Q&A with reporters.
It’s all led to a critical question of when and if Sessions will cite privilege – used by presidents to block testimony before Congress by their aides on certain topics. In a speech about violent crime in Richmond, Virginia, this past March, Sessions called cannabis use a “life-wrecking dependency” and said that it will “destroy your life”. 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”.
Sessions was adamant that he did not have a private meeting with Kislyak at that event.
The former Republican U.S. senator from Alabama, one of Trump’s most avid supporters on the campaign trail, will likely have to explain why he told lawmakers in January he had no dealings with Kremlin officials previous year. Comey asked during his testimony last week.
Although Sessions, a genteel 70-year-old from the southern state of Alabama, backed Trump’s campaign, he was also one of the first administration officials to fly into turbulence. In a Senate hearing today, Sessions said any such suggestion is an “appalling and detestable lie”. He told lawmakers at his January confirmation hearing that he had not met with Russians during the campaign.
Now, the narrative-peddlers are trying to nail Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who has suddenly become a central figure in the Trump Team’s Russian collusion caper.
Even before Sessions testified, attention in Washington swiveled to whether Trump might seek to fire Robert Mueller, named last month by the Justice Department to head a federal probe into the Russian Federation issue.
Democrats warned that Congress would turn around and re-appoint Mueller as independent counsel if Trump dismisses him.
This will mark the first time Sessions has testified in front of Congress since he recused himself from the Russian Federation investigation. Sessions had written a letter to Trump recommending Comey’s firing.
Comey brought Sessions’s meetings back into the spotlight last week when he told the Senate that there were even more meetings between Sessions and Kislyak. He said Warmbier, 22, of Cincinnati, Ohio, was en route to the US, where he will be reunited with his family.
In terms of Comey, all the facts are out there now and Trump looks unprofessional and untruthful but we knew that months ago, if not years ago. Although he tried to justify that decision as stemming only from the fact that he had played a role in the Trump campaign, it came after a report that he had two contacts with the Russian ambassador previous year despite having testified at his confirmation hearing that he had not communicated with the Russians. The former FBI Director said that, until mid-February, he chose not to approach Sessions about Trump’s repeated approaches to him about the investigation of former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.