Sessions: DOJ regulations mandated my recusal from Trump-Russia probe

Alvin Kelly
June 14, 2017

John McCain (R-Ariz.) as she questioned Attorney General Jeff Sessions during his testimony Tuesday.

Testifying at a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing, Sessions, who was a close Trump adviser during the battle for the presidency, said it is a "detestable and appalling lie" to suggest that he participated in or was aware of any collusion between Russian Federation and the Trump campaign.

The Oregon Democrat was questioning Sessions about why he could sign the letter recommending the firing of Comey if it violated his recusal.

During his testimony Tuesday, Sessions said "it would be inappropriate" to answer certain questions about his conversations with Trump before the President "has a full opportunity to review the questions and make a decision on whether or not to approve such an answer". He had told lawmakers at his January confirmation hearing that he had not met with Russians during the campaign.

He said he had recused himself from the investigation under Department of Justice rules because he had been a campaign adviser to Donald Trump, but not due to any potential "wrongdoing" in relation to Russian Federation. He never, he insisted, knew anything about the Russian Federation probe or had any role in it. Sessions added that, "to suggest that a recusal from a single specific investigation" would render him unable to manage the leadership of the FBI would be "absurd". "I am following the historic policies of the Department of Justice".

Sessions told the committee that even though he recused himself from the Russian Federation investigation, it was his duty to recommend Comey's firing to the president - even though Comey was leading the investigation.

Sessions recused himself in March following reports that he had twice met with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak during the 2016 USA presidential campaign.

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Rosenstein testified that he is the only one who has the authority to fire Mueller, who was appointed following the May 9 ousting of James Comey as Federal Bureau of Investigation director, and that he had seen no good cause to do so.

"I can not answer that because it was a communication by the president, or if any such occurred it would be a communication that he has not waived", Sessions said.

He said the attorney general's refusal to speak about discussions with Mr Trump "speaks volumes". The intelligence community seems to be united in that, but I have to tell you, Senator King, I know nothing but what I've read in the paper.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions says he recused himself from the investigation into Trump campaign ties to Russian Federation because he was involved in the campaign. An order from the president would not necessarily qualify, he said.

"From that point, February 10, until I announced my formal recusal on March 2, I was never briefed on any investigative details [and] did not access information about the investigation". I am concerned that the president still does not recognize the severity of the threat.

Sessions says the president was not asserting executive privilege and that Sessions was simply protecting Trump's right to do so if he chooses. "I'm not sure what was in his mind, specifically".

In response to accusations that he misled the Senate Judiciary Committee in response to a question asked by U.S. Senator Al Franken (D-MN).

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