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View full testimony of Attorney General Jeff Sessions on C-Span.

By Miriam Raftery

June 15, 2017 (Washington D.C.) – Attorney General Jeff Sessions testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee June 13th , calling any suggestion of  Trump campaign team’s collusion with Russia to rig the U.S. presidential election “a contemptible lie.” 

 Sessions also denied any “inappropriate” meetings with Russians but repeatedly claimed fuzzy memory. He said he could not recall meeting Russia’s ambassador during a reception at the Mayflower hotel.  After his testimony, the Week published a photo of Sessions speaking with the Russian ambassador at the Mayflower.

He refused to answer any questions about conversations with President Donald Trump about the investigation or possible discussion of pardons, citing a department policy. But Sessions was unable to name that policy, whether it exists in writing, or whether he reviewed it before testifying when grilled by California Senator Kamala Harris. (View Senator Harris questioning Sessions.) 

Despite being a seasoned prosecutor and former U.S. Attorney, Sessions showed obvious discomfort from the onset, fidgeting in his seat and averting his gaze frequently during his testimony before the committee.  At one point during Harris’ intense questioning, he admitted to feeling “nervous.”

The Attorney General  drew heat for his firing of Comey just one day after Trump tweeted about his dissatisfaction with the investigation Comey was conducting.  Sessions fired Comey despite having recused himself from any actions related to the investigation into Russian hacking of  the election or potentially any Trump team ties to Russia. 

Sessions defended the firing, citing a lack of discipline by the FBI director and insisting that a “fresh start at the FBI was the appropriate thing to do.  Trump asked Sessions and other officials to submit a written recommendation for the firing of Comey, which Sessions provided just before dismissing Comey.

Sessions added fuel to the fire for those who have asserted that he was complicit in obstructing justice through his firing of Comey:

Some have likened the Comey firing to the “Saturday night massacre” during Watergate when President Richard Nixon fired his Attorney General  and another top Justice Department official who refused to fire Watergate special prosecutor Archibald Cox.  Solicitor General Robert Bork ultimately was elevated to the Attorney General position and  fired Cox.  A New York Times editorial called Bork’s action obstruction of justice and in his memoirs, Bork admitted Nixon had promised to nominate him to the Supreme Court for his action.  Cox had sought White House tapes that ultimately were released, proving Nixon covered up the Watergate break-in, leading to his resignation after impeachment papers were drawn up. 

Media reports have suggested Trump may be considering firing special prosecutor Robert Mueller. Asked his views on Mueller,  Sessions voiced confidence in Mueller, a Republican who has assembled a team of top investigators and prosecutors with expertise ranging from Russian espionage to racketeering and organized crime.

Sessions headed up Trump’s foreign policy team during his campaign, but admitted during his testimony that he could not recall the team holding and meetings and that he never even met some of the people on the team.  The revelation  raises questions as to just who, if anyone,  Trump relied upon for foreign policy advice prior to the November 2016 election.


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