That includes the man who hired the special counsel and would have to do the firing.
Sen. John McCain asked Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Tuesday about reports of Russians potentially spying on Kansas’ fiber optic communications network in 2016. To his boss? To his former Senate colleagues? Comey had previously said that he had once asked Sessions to never leave him alone with Trump.
In his dramatic appearance before former colleagues, Mr Sessions also contradicted a contention made by former Federal Bureau of Investigation director James Comey at a hearing before the same panel last week.
He said he never met with, or had conversations with, Russians about election interference.
Lawmakers, including Al Franken of Minnesota and Patrick Leahy of Vermont, have asked the FBI to investigate and to determine if Sessions committed perjury when he denied having had meetings with Russians. Ron Wyden got the chance to grill Sessions, and during a tense exchange about the firing of Comey, Wyden said Sessions’ answer “didn’t pass the smell test“. That position was similar to the one taken at a separate hearing last week by the country’s intelligence chiefs. Sessions says it’s his duty to protect confidential conversations with the president.
Attorney General Jeff Session, right, and Vice President Mike Pence attend a Cabinet meeting with President Donald Trump, Monday, June 12, 2017, in the Cabinet Room of the White House in Washington.
Reports have said Comey told the committee in a closed hearing last week that the undisclosed issue was a possible third meeting with Kislyak.
He denied allegations Tuesday that he perjured himself with that statement.
Under questioning on January 10, Sessions said he had no communications with Russians during the campaign.
Lawmakers for weeks have demanded answers from Sessions, particularly about meetings he had last summer and fall with the Russian ambassador to the United States, Sergey Kislyak.
He was being asked about Comey’s testimony.
In a February meeting, Comey said, Trump told Sessions and other administration officials to leave the room before asking him to drop a probe into former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn’s contacts with Russian Federation.
“Mr. Comey said that there were matters in respect of the recusal that were problematic and he couldn’t talk about them”.
Sanders confirmed that the President did interview Robert Mueller as a candidate for FBI director the day before he was named special counsel of the federal investigation into the Trump campaign and Russian Federation ties. When he recommended Comey’s firing to Trump, he cited the letter by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.
Heinrich forcefully accused Sessions of obstructing the investigation into collusion with Russian Federation, continuing a pattern already documented within the Trump administration. But Trump undercut that version May 11, telling NBC News that the firing was in response to Comey’s handling of the Russian Federation investigation.
However Democrat Congressman Jim Langevin said Sessions fell short of the standard of evidence required at such a hearing. “When you’re recusing yourself, you are stepping aside, and this sure doesn’t look like that”, he said.
“This is troubling because it appears that the President chose to fire Director Comey because he was pursuing the Russian investigation and had asked you to come up with an excuse”.
“I have confidence in Bob Mueller”, said top House Republican Paul Ryan, in remarks echoed by top senator Mitch McConnell. He added that Mueller will have the “full independence he needs to conduct that investigation” and that there was “no secret plan” to fire him. “And when asked I said that to the president”. Susan Collins, R-Maine.
“I believe the American people have had it with stonewalling”.
House Speaker Paul Ryan suggested Tuesday that questions about Mueller were sparked by a “rumor that’s not happening” and causing a “debate that is not occurring”.