5 key takeaways from Attorney General Jeff Sessions' testimony

Attorney General Jeff Sessions listens to a question while testifying on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, before the Senate Intelligence Committee hearing about his role in the firing of James Comey, his Russian contacts during the campaign and his decision to recuse from an investigation into possible ties between Moscow and associates of President Donald Trump.

The president has responded to Comey's testimony on Thursday to the Senate Intelligence Committee by denying that he tried to interfere with an FBI investigation, and calling the former FBI chief a leaker.

Earlier, Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., asked Sessions why, after recusing himself from the Russian Federation inquiry, he signed a letter last month recommending that President Trump fire Comey. We have oversight over the Justice Department. He also said he was protecting Trump's rights to later assert executive privilege, mentioning that Trump hadn't had a chance to know the questions being asked.

When he was accused by Sen.

"I would have to consult with lawyers in the department who know the proper procedure before disclosing documents held within the Department of Justice", he said.

"He told me repeatedly that he had talked to lots of people about me, including our current attorney general, and had learned that I was doing a great job and that I was extremely well-liked by the Federal Bureau of Investigation workforce", Comey told the committee. Sessions said of that moment: "He was concerned about it, and his recollection of what he said to me about this concern is consistent with my recollection".

KING: You never asked for a briefing or attended a briefing or read the intelligence reports? Harris pressed on. Sessions replied that they had talked about it and about the principle of executive privilege. You never sought any information about this rather dramatic attack on our country?

He said he did not have a third meeting with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak at the Mayflower Hotel during the campaign as Democrats had speculated.

The official fired back at lawmakers over claims that he colluded with Russian officials during the 2016 election, calling it an "appalling and detestable lie". The person spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss private conversations.

He came out swinging during his opening statement, saying that while he recused himself from any investigation into Russia's meddling in the presidential election, he did not recuse himself from defending his honor "against scurrilous and false allegations". Richard Blumenthal revived calls for Sessions to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee and "answer questions he's dodging today". That didn't pan out.

Sarah Isgur Flores, a spokeswoman for the Justice Department announced that the Justice Department analyzed the intelligence material in an attempt to corroborate whether or not Sessions met with Kislyak at Mayflower Hotel.

At other times, though, Sessions frequently said he couldn't recall specifics, particularly when asked about his meetings with Russian officials during the 2016 campaign. If I don't qualify it, you accuse me of lying.

The testimony by Sessions marked the latest chapter in a saga that has dogged Trump's first five months as president and distracted from his domestic policy agenda including major healthcare and tax cut initiatives.

But Sessions has not addressed this issue directly, nor broader questions about his relationship with Comey.

Sessions said it would be "absurd" to suggest that a recusal from a single investigation would render him unable to manage the leadership of the FBI.

Whether Sergey Kislyak, the Russian ambassador to the United States, was at a Trump speech that Sessions attended, or whether Sessions spoke to him.

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