Although Sessions backed Mr Trump’s campaign, he was also one of the first administration officials to fly into turbulence.
As their exchange continued, Wyden asked about Comey’s testimony, in which he said that there were problematic issues with Sessions’ recusal from the Russian Federation investigation.
In his dramatic appearance before former colleagues, Sessions contradicted former FBI Director James Comey’s testimony from last week.
US intelligence agencies concluded in a report released in January that Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an effort to interfere in the election to help Trump in part by hacking and releasing damaging emails about Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton. John McCain, R-Ariz., asked Sessions to give details about his September meeting with the Russian ambassador in his Senate office.
Ron Wyden (D-OR) had a heated exchange with Sessions, in which Wyden said “the American people have had it with stonewalling“.
“Some of that leaked out of the committee, that he said in closed setting”, Sessions said.
Sessions repeatedly cited Justice Department regulations that he said bar him from discussing conversations he had with Trump.
“Our committee will want to hear what you are doing to ensure that the Russians – or any other foreign adversaries – can not attack our democratic process like this ever again. And when asked I said that to the president”.
Sessions in March stepped aside from the federal investigation into contacts between Russian Federation and the presidential campaign after acknowledging that he had met twice a year ago with Kislyak.
Sessions, who served in the Senate representing Alabama, will testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee Tuesday at 2:30 p.m. ET.
He insisted he never knew anything about the Russian Federation probe or had any role in it.
It was only previously known that Sessions had two meetings with Russian Ambassador to the U.S. Sergey Kislyak.
Though the Justice Department maintains that it has fully disclosed the extent of Sessions’ foreign contacts previous year, lawmakers have continued to press him for answers about an April 2016 event at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, where both Sessions and Kislyak attended a foreign policy speech by Trump.
Sessions: “I…that….why don’t you tell me?” Comey’s testimony was full of interesting revelations but did not lead to any smoking gun concerning Donald Trump’s campaign and communications with the Russians.
“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”.
Sessions told the senators that he has confidence in Mueller but said he had “no idea” if Trump did because he had not spoken to the president about the matter. Trump could recommend to the Justice Department that the special counsel be fired. Both leaders of the committee expressed their interest in learning more about possible undisclosed meetings with Russian officials and about the firing of Comey. “But that in itself is not problematic”.
“I can tell you that for absolute certainty. I affirmed his concern that we should be following the proper guidelines of the Department of Justice, and basically backed him up in his concerns”.
Sessions will likely be asked whether he played a role in Trump’s surprise decision to fire FBI Director James Comey last month – a move that caused Trump’s critics to charge that he was trying to interfere with a criminal investigation.
Sessions testified that Department of Justice rules do not prohibit one-on-one communications between the president and the Federal Bureau of Investigation director.