Martin Heinrich told Sessions he was “impeding” the congressional investigation by not answering questions.
Executive privilege allows a president to not discuss his private conversations.
He added: “Sen. Franken asked me a rambling question, after some six hours of testimony, that included dramatic, new allegations that the United States intelligence community has advised President-elect (Donald) Trump that there was continuing exchange of information during the campaign between Trump’s surrogates and intermediaries for the Russian government”. “Further, I have no knowledge of any such conversations by anyone connected with the Trump campaign”, Sessions said.
Sessions, a close Trump adviser during the battle for the presidency, said in his opening statement that it was a “detestable and appalling lie” to suggest he was aware of or participated in any collusion between Russian Federation and the Trump campaign.
“Mr. Comey said that there were matters in respect of the recusal that were problematic and he couldn’t talk about them”.
The Senate Intelligence Committee wanted Attorney General Jeff Sessions to verify – or knock down – fired FBI Director James Comey’s allegations against the president.
Sessions is likely to be asked about his conversations with Ambassador Sergey Kislyak and whether there were more encounters that should have been made public.
SESSIONS: No. Yes, I do.
But in the rat-a-tat-tat of follow-up questions, Sessions slowly pried that door open again, by increasingly hedging his answers.
“Can you tell us what policy it is you’re talking about?” she asked.
“I know how this will be discussed, but that’s the rule that’s been long adhered to by Department of Justice, as you know, Sen”.
He also vehemently denied speaking to Russian officials about the election, during a campaign in which he was a close adviser to candidate Trump. I am concerned that the president still does not recognize the severity of the threat.
“I did not have any private meetings nor recall any private conversations with any Russian official at the Mayflower Hotel”, Sessions told the Senate intelligence committee. Unable to shake anything out of the trees, Democrats vented much of their frustration at the Attorney General, saying that Sessions had no basis to refuse to answer questions from Senators.
As for Comey’s firing, Sessions told senators that his recommendation had nothing to do with the Russian Federation probe, that he and his second-in-command, Rosenstein, had a “clear view. that we had problems there, and it was my best judgment that a fresh start at the Federal Bureau of Investigation was the appropriate thing to do”.
After admitting Mr Trump had not invoked privilege, Mr Sessions was accused of “stonewalling” by Democratic senator Ron Wyden.
Sessions is now the only Trump official on the record, under oath, countering Comey’s testimony last week under oath.
According to Comey, Trump said of Flynn: “He is a good guy”.
Sessions also refused to answer whether any Justice Department officials had discussed possible presidential pardons of individuals being looked at in the Russian investigations.
Sessions confirmed Comey’s account, but he placed less emphasis on the Trump-Comey meeting.
“Knowing you on the committee, I can’t imagine that”, McCain replied. “I am following the historic policies of the Department of Justice”.
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.