In his opening statement, the attorney general said, “I never met with or had any conversations with Russians or foreign officials regarding interference with any campaign or election.”
- Attorney General Jeff Sessions appearing before the Senate Intelligence Committee now to testify about his contacts with Russian officials during and after the 2016 election.
- Sessions asked that his appearance be made public, according to a spokesperson for the Department of Justice.
- Sessions has recused himself from all Russia-related matters at the Justice Department due to his role in the Trump campaign, and his multiple undisclosed meetings with top Russian officials.
- Sessions’ testimony comes after James Comey’s blockbuster appearance before the same committee last week, in which Comey accused Trump’s White House of lying about the reasons for his dismissal as FBI director.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions denied ever meeting or having conversations with “any Russians or any foreign officials concerning any type of interference with any campaign or election,” as he began his testimony Tuesday before the Senate intelligence committee.
Sessions is expected to be asked about his contacts with Russian officials during the campaign, and his role in the firing of former FBI director James Comey.
Sen. Mark Warner began his opening statement by pointing out that Sessions, during his confirmation hearing in January, said he did not have communications with Russians during the campaign, when in fact he had two meetings with the Russian ambassador.
Sen. Mark Warner said Sessions’s appearance Tuesday in front of the Intelligence Committee is “just the beginning of our interaction with you and our department.”
Warner went on to say that the committee has a lot of work to do to follow up on the “alarming disclosures” made during Comey’s hearing last week, and that Sessions will be vital in clarifying events the former FBI director described.
“We will also want to know if you are aware of any attempts by the President to enlist leaders of the intelligence community to undermine the Russia investigation,” Warner said, adding that he is concerned the president has not recognized “the severity of the [Russian] threat.”
In his opening remarks, Sessions denied having conversations with any foreign officials about interference with the campaign. “Further, I have no knowledge of any such conversations by anyone connected to the Trump campaign,” he said.
As he continued his opening statements, Sessions said that he did not remember talking with the Russian Ambassador after a speech the former Alabama Senator made at the Mayflower Hotel in April, 2016.
“If any brief interaction occurred in passing with the Russian ambassador during that reception, I do not remember it,” Sessions said.
Sessions went on to explain that he recused himself from investigations into Russian involvement in the 2016 US presidential elections because of a Department of Justice regulation, and not because of anything nefarious.
“Importantly, I recuse myself not because of any asserted wrongdoing or any that I may have been involved in any wrongdoing in the campaign,” Sessions said. The regulation in question, Sessions said, “states in effect that department employees should not participate in investigations of a campaign if they served as a campaign adviser.”
“At all times throughout the course of the campaign, the confirmation process, and since becoming attorney general, I have dedicated myself to the highest standards.”
Suggestions that he would “undermine the integrity of our democratic process,” Sessions said, are “an appalling and detestable lie.”