Tuesday, 21 November, 2017

Jeff Sessions grilled by Senate Intelligence Committee

Chine Nouvelle  SIPA  Newscom Chine Nouvelle SIPA Newscom
Bennie Garza | 16 June, 2017, 20:03

Democrat Senator Ron Wyden from OR appeared on CNN's "Anderson Cooper 360" Tuesday night to discuss Attorney General Jeff Sessions' testimony to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. The appearance before the Senate intelligence committee gave Sessions a chance to defend himself, but offered little new insight.

Former President Bill Clinton met with Attorney General Loretta Lynch on an airport tarmac near the end of an investigation into Hillary Clinton's email server, but there's no evidence the former secretary of state orchestrated the get-together, as Trump implied. Rosenstein said he has.

Comey declined Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley's request to testify and went before the Senate Intelligence Committee instead. He then took a swipe at Sessions saying the attorney general didn't understand the legalities of governing.

Sessions' hearing marked the first time the attorney general had testified before Congress since he recused himself from the Justice Department's probe into Russian meddling in last year's election, and since the firing of FBI Director James Comey.

"T$3 he suggestion that I participated in any collusion - that I was aware of any collusion with the Russian government to hurt this country, which I have served with honor for 35 years, or to undermine the integrity of our democratic process, is an appalling and detestable lie", he said.

"Senator, I'm not going to follow any order unless I believe those are lawful and appropriate orders", Rosenstein said during a hearing about President Trump's $27.7 billion fiscal 2018 budget for the Department of Justice.

Sessions was adamant that he did not have a private meeting with Kislyak at that event.

Sessions denied media reports that there might have been a third meeting. Sens. Al Franken of Minnesota and Patrick Leahy of Vermont have sought an FBI investigation.

In a series of statements on Twitter on Thursday, Mr Trump repeated his claim that Mr Mueller's investigation is a "WITCH HUNT" based on the "phoney" premise of possible collusion between Russian Federation and a cadre of Trump campaign associates.

Sessions said during questioning by senators that allegations of Trump-Russia collusion outlined in a private intelligence dossier produced by a former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele were false. That was not so, he said.

Nor was Sessions leaning on the presidential right to keep information a secret from the panel investigating alleged ties between the Trump campaign and Russian officials.

Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden of OR aggressively asked Sessions about suggestions arising from Comey's testimony last week that there was something "problematic" about his recusal.

Some Democrats grew impatient, warning Sessions was stonewalling on vital issues. There are none, Sen.

Sessions said during his hearing he is not sure if he would be able to answer the questions in a closed session.

Former United States attorney Barbara McQuade, who served under the Barack Obama administration, told the Daily Beast if Trump fired Mueller "and it could be shown that his goal was to impede the investigation, it could be additional evidence of obstruction of justice". Sessions said of that moment: "He was concerned about it, and his recollection of what he said to me about this concern is consistent with my recollection". That prompted Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to appoint Robert Mueller - himself a former Federal Bureau of Investigation director - as special counsel the following week.

Chris Ruddy, a Trump friend and the CEO of the conservative website Newsmax, raised the possibility of the president considering terminating Mueller, a potentially explosive option.

"Like the silence of Rep. Coats and Admiral Rogers, I think your silence speaks volumes", Heinrich said.

Based on Comey's sworn statements and Trump's own admissions, the president appears to be in legal jeopardy with possible obstruction of justice charges.

While legal analysts say Trump cannot do this as the law mandates that the special counsel can only be appointed and fired by the Office of the Attorney General and NOT by the president, this news just all the more highlights the nagging question as to why Trump has been demonizing the investigation.

That is, Sessions didn't seem willing to swerve over the line to broadside President Donald Trump's critics by echoing the more extreme of his boss' recent statements regarding James Comey, the Russian Federation probe and ex-adviser Michael Flynn.

Sessions maintained that he had not been briefed on the Russian Federation investigation between the time of his February swearing-in and his March 2 recusal.

But Sessions said he did not want to reveal details that the president might want out of the public eye, if he were given more time to consider. I don't even read that carefully.

I never learned the names of investigators.

Trump denied the conversation took place as Comey asserted. "I don't know, Sen". And all of it probably made Sessions' boss very happy.

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