New Mexico Senator frustrated by Sessions' refusal to answer questions

She says Trump thought Sessions was especially "strong" on denying any collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian Federation.

And when this contradiction was placed in front him at Tuesday's hearing, Sessions was unable to provide an answer. Mark Warner, the ranking member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, asked Sessions.

Sessions said he recused himself from the Justice Department's ongoing Russian Federation investigation only because of a regulation that required it over his involvement in the Trump campaign.

Sessions told the Senate intelligence committee Tuesday he has never discussed with foreign officials - including Russians - "any type of interference with any campaign or election". Ron Wyden, D-Oregon, asked Sessions what the "problematic" matters were, which led to a dramatic, emphatic statement from Sessions. "At all times throughout the course of the campaign, the confirmation process, and since becoming Attorney General, I have dedicated myself to the highest standards", he said.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions repeatedly refused to answer questions from senators Tuesday about his private conversations with President Donald Trump, including whether he spoke to Trump about former FBI Director James Comey's handling of the investigation into possible coordination between the Trump campaign and Russian Federation during the 2016 presidential race.

Wyden said Sessions' answer "doesn't pass the smell test". "Can Sessions point to the policy, in writing, that allows him to not answer a whole host of our questions today".

Sessions said Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein prepared a memo on Comey's performance that "noted some serious problems" with his performance.

SESSIONS: Some of that leaked out of the committee that he said in closed session. They don't decide prosecution policies.

He called Comey's move "a thunderous thing" and it caused him to conclude "that a fresh start was appropriate".

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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. But Sessions says he had concerns about Comey's job performance even before he was confirmed.

And he added that he discussed the need for a "fresh start" at the Federal Bureau of Investigation with Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein before either of the men were confirmed to their posts. Sessions cited his involvement in the Trump campaign - and his involvement in the Trump campaign alone - for his recusal. Sessions, however, could have invoked executive privilege himself. But our attorney general, who is the top law enforcement official in the country, and the rest of the Trump administration seem unconcerned by that disturbing truth.

"You're impeding this investigation", he said.

Sen. Tom Cotton speculated Wednesday that former FBI Director James B. Comey may have set a precedent by requesting a private meeting with President Trump prior to his inauguration.

Sessions said President Trump did talk about Comey's firing and said he was upset with Comey's handling of the Russian investigation.

White House frustrations with the Justice Department spilled into public view last week, when Trump on Twitter criticized the legal strategy in defending his proposed travel ban.

The hearing that spanned roughly two-and-a-half-hours, left the Democrats fuming over the attorney general's refusal to answer questions. Sen. He recalled multiple conversations with President Donald Trump about his performance.

He also testified that he had no knowledge of any Trump campaign staff having any such conversations. But he denied reports that he had a third, previously undisclosed meeting with Kislyak at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington in April 2016. "There are none", said Sessions.

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