Sessions vigorously denies improper Russian Federation contacts

He vowed to defend his honor "against scurrilous and false allegations".

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. During his testimony, the Attorney General was asked if he had been given some of the details about the "active measures" used by Russian Federation to interfere in the USA elections - his answer was, no, as Sessions said he had stayed away from anything to do with the matter, to honor his recusal as Attorney General.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions said fired Federal Bureau of Investigation director James Comey's handling of the Clinton email scandal was even more "egregious" than he realized when he was advising her opponent, candidate Donald Trump. There are none. I can tell you for absolute certainty.

CORNISH: Republican senators like Tom Cotton of Arkansas offered more sympathetic questions.

After his confirmation hearing in January, Sessions was skewered for saying, "I did not have communications with the Russians".

During his testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee Tuesday, Attorney General Jeff Sessions repeatedly suggested that "executive privilege" would prevent him from answer several questions.

The nation's top law enforcement official - who has recused himself from all ongoing Russian Federation investigations - has himself become a focal point in congressional probes into the allegations of election meddling, in possible collusion with Trump's team, that have dogged the young administration.

Sessions said he was, indeed, "one of the last ones" to leave the White House after a meeting on February 14.

Wyden asked Sessions about his recusal from the investigation and his role in Comey's dismissal. King was incredulous to learn how little Sessions says he knew about the intelligence on Russian meddling in the US election.

"Why don't you tell me?" There are none, Sen. Either way, when Sessions insisted that he was "not stonewalling", one had a sense that he was, in a twisted sense, right. Ron Wyden (D-OR), decrying "secret innuendo" from Comey and other critics.

"I received only the limited information that the department's career officials determined was necessary to inform my recusal decision", he said.

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Democrats warned that Congress would turn around and re-appoint Mueller as independent counsel if Trump dismisses him.

In May, Trump told NBC News that he was contemplating "this Russian Federation thing" ahead of Comey's firing. He said Comey lingered behind to "talk to the president".

Senators are also expected to ask Sessions why, after recusing himself from the Russian Federation inquiry, he signed a letter last month recommending that President Trump fire Comey.

Sessions hedged nearly all of his answers about whether/when he met with Russians, or why he was involved in firing Comey, or how he feels about the president's decisions, with: "I don't recall" or "I believe so" or "maybe". Here's one exchange between Sessions and independent Senator Angus King of Maine. Angus King, I-Maine, that he has not read the consensus report from USA intelligence agencies on Russian meddling and has not sought any briefings.

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.

- Third Sessions-Russia meeting? He did allow for the possibility that he encountered him in a reception that he said was attended by a couple dozen people, although he said he had no specific recollection of that.

On another hot-button issue, Sen. Further, I have no knowledge of any such conversations by anyone connected to the Trump campaign.

Sessions said he refused to answer questions on Tuesday in order to maintain Trump's ability to assert executive privilege at some later date.

Trump made his frustration known publicly on Twitter on June 5, when he criticized Sessions's office for the way it acted on the president's travel ban on visitors from some Muslim-majority countries. I am asking when you knew ... Marco Rubio, R-Fla., asked Sessions whether Trump records his conversations in the White House.

Associated Press writers Deb Riechmann, Sadie Gurman and Mary Clare Jalonick contributed.

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