Comey said Trump told Sessions and other administration officials to leave the room before Trump asked him in February to drop a probe into former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn's contacts with Russian Federation.
The day after the termination, Trump told Kremlin visitors to the Oval Office: "I faced great pressure because of Russian Federation". No, Sessions replied. So how could he not answer their queries?
Check back later to watch Sessions' testimony live.
Sessions refused to say whether he had ever discussed the Russian Federation investigation with President Trump, saying he could not disclose private communications with the President.
"I understand he was there". The White House has denied any collusion with Moscow.
Mr Trump has faced allegations of obstructing justice for firing Mr Comey after it was discovered that he had pushed the former intelligence chief to drop an investigation into former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn. Al Franken. In January, during his confirmation hearing, Sessions told the Minnesota Democrat that he "did not have communications with the Russians".
That includes a relationship with an elected official or candidate. "I have confidence in Mr. Mueller", he said.
"Former colleagues, that is false", Sessions said.
But the subject of his recusal remains a sensitive issue for the attorney general.
And while he had recused himself from the Russian Federation probe, Sessions insisted, "I did not recuse myself from defending my honor against scurrilous and false allegations". Several media outlets have reported that Comey told the Intelligence Committee in closed session last week that the Federal Bureau of Investigation was examining whether Sessions met with Kislyak at a Washington hotel a year ago.
"Let me state this clearly - I have never met with or had any conversations with Russians or any foreign officials", he said.
Throughout the questioning, Sessions defended himself and refused to discuss any details of conversations he's had with President Trump. Comey declined to elaborate in an open setting.
In a letter Saturday to Sen. The then-acting deputy attorney general was Comey's direct supervisor, and if he had concerns about Sessions staying involved in the Russian Federation investigation, Sessions said he should've brought those concerns to her attention. In addition, I provided supplemental testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee to explain this.
"I think there are times when it plays an important role in government".
It was unclear over the weekend if the hearing would be open or closed, but late Monday morning, the committee's chair and vice-chair, Sen. Democrats balked, saying Sessions should not be able to duck a public appearance. It was only in March of this year that a reporter asked my spokesperson whether I had ever met with any Russian officials. Trump confident Christopher Ruddy, CEO of conservative Newsmax Media, told PBS Newshour on Monday that he thought Trump "was considering perhaps terminating the special counsel", a decision that would require formal action by Rosenstein. "It is absurd, frankly, to suggest that a recusal from a single specific investigation would render an attorney general unable to manage the leadership of the various Department of Justice law enforcement components that conduct thousands of investigations", he said.
Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden of OR asked Sessions about suggestions arising from Comey's testimony last week that there was something "problematic" about his recusal. I am not convinced that all two hours last night was classified and that the American people should not be told.
Sen. Christopher A. Coons (D., Del.) asked Rosenstein: Why would the deputy attorney general have written a memo to Sessions that was "exclusively" about a matter from which Sessions was recused?
Feinstein was not satisfied.
"I have no knowledge of any such conversations by anyone connected to the Trump campaign", he added.
"The policy is based on the principle that the President -" Sessions said.
"We also were aware of facts that I can't discuss in an opening setting,"Comey said".
But that was not a hard and fast rule. Comey's decision to announce past year that Clinton would not be prosecuted over her emails was a "usurpation" of the Justice Department's authority, Sessions said.
The problems with the handling of that investigation "were more widespread than most people know", he said.
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