Jeff Sessions Testifies Before Senate Intelligence Committee

Aaron Brown
June 14, 2017

The public testimony Tuesday before the Senate intelligence committee should yield Sessions' most extensive comments to date on questions that have dogged his entire tenure as attorney general and that led him three months ago to step aside from the Russian Federation probe.

The attorney general could also face questions about whether he met Kislyak on a third occasion.

"The chain of command for the special counsel is only directly to the attorney general, or in this case, the acting attorney general, so nobody else in the department would have the authority to do that, and you have my assurance that we are going to faithfully follow that regulation and Director Mueller is going to have the full degree of independence that he needs to conduct that investigation appropriately", said Rosenstein.

He may also face questions about comments by Trump confidant Chris Ruddy, chief executive of Newsmax, who suggested Monday that the president was considering firing Mueller, the special counsel appointed by the Justice Department to lead the FBI's Russian Federation probe. The president said he is willing to testify under oath on these points.

"I recused myself from any investigation into the campaigns for President, but I did not recuse myself from defending my honor against scurrilous and false allegations", Sessions said.

"Let me state this clearly, colleagues. If there were not good cause it wouldn't matter what anyone said".

"The Senate and the American people deserve to know exactly what involvement with the Russian Federation investigation he had before his recusal, what safeguards are in place to prevent his meddling, and why he felt it was appropriate to recommend the firing of Director Comey when he was leading that investigation", said Sen.

In a separate Senate hearing, deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein - who following Sessions' recusal from the Russian Federation probe is the official with authority to fire Mueller - told lawmakers he has seen no evidence of good cause to do so.

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Senators are expected to hone in on Comey's recounting of a February 14 White House meeting where Trump pressed the director to drop the FBI's inquiry into national security adviser Michael Flynn. Charles Schumer of NY, the Senate's top Democrat.

The public testimony should yield Sessions' most extensive comments to date on questions that have dogged his tenure as attorney general and that led him three months ago to recuse himself from the Russian Federation probe. The committee shortly after said the hearing would be open.

In addition, Comey has said Sessions did not respond when he complained that he did not want to be left alone with Trump again.

Russian Federation has denied interfering in the USA election.

Sessions' appearance before the intelligence committee is an indication of just how much the Russian Federation investigation has shaded his tenure. But Democrats on the Senate panel are likely to press him on issues such as his contacts with Russian Federation and his role in the dismissal of Comey - who led the FBI's probe on Russian Federation until he was ousted.

Sessions said in his opening statement that he did not have a third meeting with Russian ambassador to the US Sergey Kislyak in the Mayflower hotel in Washington, despite reports that the Federal Bureau of Investigation had been investigating whether such a contact took place. And he can expect questions about his involvement in Comey's May 9 firing, the circumstances surrounding his decision to recuse himself from the FBI's investigation, and whether any of his actions - such as interviewing candidates for the FBI director position or meeting with Trump about Comey - violated his recusal pledge. I am concerned that the president still does not recognize the severity of the threat.

Rep. Adam Schiff, a California Democrat, says such a move would "be the last straw" for many in Congress and would have "echoes of Watergate", when President Richard Nixon dismissed special prosecutor Archibald Cox over Cox's subpoenas for White House tapes.

Other reports by Free-Prsite

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