Senators questioned if he had a role in the firing of FBI Director James Comey even though he had recused himself from the Russian Federation investigation.
As FBI and congressional investigators have examined the Russian operation to boost Trump's 2016 electoral prospects, Sessions has emerged as a central figure as a result of undisclosed meetings with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak.
In an explosive Senate intelligence hearing last week, Comey testified that - based on Trump's statements - he believes he was sacked because of the investigation into Russian election meddling and potential collusion with the Trump campaign.
When Martin Heinrich (D-NM) was up to bat, he aired out possible reasoning to why Sessions wasn't answering and pretty much let him have it.
The first real fireworks flew nearly 90 minutes into the testimony. Sen.
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein is also testifying on Capitol Hill today, in the House and Senate appropriations committees. His insistence that there was no reason to recuse himself from the dismissal of Comey because it was due to Comey's improper handling of the Hillary Clinton's email case and not to end the Russian Federation investigation, as Trump himself said in a TV interview, was just not believable. "I never asked for any documentation", Sessions said. There are none, Sen.
Wyden said the answer "doesn't smell the pass test". "I don't understand how you can have it both ways", King said.
Raising his voice, he said: "This is a secret innuendo being leaked there about me and I don't appreciate it".
Sessions did not ask the White House about whether Trump was invoking executive privilege over his testimony and Trump did not opt to assert the privilege, a senior administration official said Tuesday. He said he had no conversations about that finding with President Trump either.
In a snappy exchange with Sen.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., pressed the issue, noting that two days after Comey was let go, the president said he would have fired the Federal Bureau of Investigation director regardless of the recommendation he received from Sessions and Rosenstein. But the same official argued claiming privilege on a hearing without knowing the scope would not comply with "how the process works". Asked whether he would ever take any action to remove Mueller, Sessions said, "I would not think that would be appropriate for me to do".
"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.
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King concluded by scolding them once again for "inappropriately refusing to answer" the committee's questions. Coats said he would not discuss in open session about his conversations with President Trump .
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But: Sessions also said he thought Comey should be fired. Angus King, I-Maine, that he has not read the consensus report from United States intelligence agencies on Russian meddling and has not sought any briefings.
"If any brief interaction occurred in passing with the Russian ambassador during that reception, I do not remember it", Sessions said. Sessions: "I don't recall it, Sen". Tom Cotton of Arkansas.
"Do you like spy fiction?"
COTTON: (Unintelligible) Jason Bourne or.
"Yeah, Alan Furst, David Ignatius", he said.
COTTON: Do you like Jason Bourne or James Bond movies?
"In his opening remarks, Sessions explained that he "[did] not have any recollection of meeting or talking to the Russian ambassador or any Russian official" outside of the two conversations he had already disclosed. His staff said Sessions did not mislead Congress because the encounters were part of his job as a U.S. senator, not as a Trump campaign representative.
"So you were his superior and there were some fairly harsh things you said about Director Comey". Sessions recused himself from the Department of Justice Russia investigation in March, but then signed a letter endorsing Comey's firing in May.
But his refusal to answer questions about his conversations with President Donald Trump, particularly whether they discussed the reasons for Comey's firing in an Oval Office meeting the day before the dismissal, was most disturbing.
Hitting out at "scurrilous and false accusations" over his decision, Mr Sessions said he had "dedicated myself to the highest standards".
Sessions got angry again when Wyden pressed Sessions to explain what facts might be "problematic "about his involvement in the Russian Federation probe, as Comey suggested".