In an often-contentious Tuesday hearing before the Senate Intelligence Committee, an indignant Attorney General Jeff Sessions made clear that he was upset that allegations that he knew of collusion between Trump campaign officials and Russian operatives during the election were impugning his “honor.” But in nearly three hours of testimony, he failed to answer many of the key questions that prompted the panel to invite him to testify in open session.
But he’s also not willing to plant a flag in any particular place.
The once-novel divide between various flanks of the Republican Party during the earliest days of the Trump era was a ripe area of fascination for many in the media, as various scandals forced longtime conservatives to speak out — and coin him or herself a Never-Trumper — or as old guard lawmakers flocked to the faux-populist corners of the party’s once-fringe Trumpian movement. Now that divide has reemerged, as establishment Republicans grapple with the future of their party and pundits hand-wring about how far-right the GOP’s ideology and messaging must go in order to win elections in 2022.
Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-TX) has tried to have it both ways for some time. And he’s still squirming to this day.
This is probably obvious to many of you. But Donald Trump’s new ‘Truth Social’ media company, formed with a blank check SPAC vehicle, is essentially an open invitation to foreign bribes and payoffs. It’s no surprise the investor list is secret. The one constant in Trump’s business history is that investors get screwed and he walks away unscathed. Given Trump’s political following a social and media venture seems like it could be quite profitable. But most people can succeed with casinos too. Just not Trump. And those were the days of formal investments, prospectuses, business plans, formal commitments. A SPAC is a blank check. Invest now. Find out what you’re investing in later. No one with big money would invest in such an enterprise with the hope of financial returns.
It looks like Donald Trump put his foot down and told Mark Meadows to stop cooperating with the January 6th committee. Is this an effort to get back into Trump’s good graces after the COVID positive test revelation that had Meadows calling his own book “fake news”? Presumably Meadows can now expect an indictment imminently.
I want to recommend to you this new article in The Atlantic about the Jan 6th insurrection and the preparation for the next one in 2024. It doesn’t contain any big exclusives. If you’ve been following ours and others coverage of the insurrection, the effort to pass new election subverting laws at the state level and the campaign of harassment of local election officials you’ll be broadly familiar with most of it. But I don’t think I’ve seen anyone pull the different moving parts together so effectively, either retrospectively or prospectively.
I have a bit of a quibble with Bart on just how much Trump was methodologically pursuing a clear plan to overturn the election once Biden was declared the victor a few days after election day. But this is mainly a matter of emphasis rather than disputes over detail.
There are reports this morning about early signs that Omicron COVID produces milder disease than feared or perhaps milder disease than Delta and other variants. There does appear to be growing evidence of this, or more evidence that Omicron doesn’t produce more severe disease (which is a great thing). But I wanted to flag some caveats and context that I’ve picked up over the weekend.
TPM Reader PT makes a point about leaving no stone unturned in the fight against COVID …
In reading various articles on the naval component of WW2, one of the things I noticed is that, at the war’s end, the United States wound up canceling or scrapping numerous aircraft carriers that were at some point in the process from ordering to commissioning. Likewise the battleships USS Illinois and USS Kentucky, which had started construction but were abandoned when the war ended.
I have to imagine that vaccination rates among TPM Readers are close to 100%, given a variety of factors – education levels, politics, age, etc. But I’m sure there are many who haven’t gotten a booster shot. You should get that shot. You should get it as soon as you’re able to get it. I’ve been pretty pro-booster for months, even back to when the evidence for the persistence of increased immunity was less clear. Until quite recently boosters were seen by many as a bit precious unless you were part of some high risk group or even a bit selfish. Not so. Not now at least.
In recent months there’s been a lively debate and a number of contending studies over whether ‘natural’ or vaccinated immunity provides superior protection against COVID. This is important information to know for a number of reasons. But in the public conversation it’s largely become a cudgel in arguments about vaccine mandates – people insisting vaccine mandates shouldn’t apply to them because of the immunity they got from being sick with COVID is just as good. There are many problems with that argument – the most important of which is that every expert I’ve heard from seems to agree that getting vaccinated gives you added protection regardless of whether you’ve had COVID. Meanwhile, in public health terms, it’s nearly impossible to litigate at scale who has had COVID and who hasn’t. But setting that debate aside, the advent of Omicron may be pushing this issue to center stage in a new way.
We have a mere 210,000 new jobs created in November, according to statistics released this morning by the Bureau of Labor statistics. It’s another “disappointing” number, well below Wall Street estimates. But as we noted a couple weeks ago and Philip Bump reminds us this morning, we should expect that the number is actually much higher, probably dramatically higher. So far this year every month but one has been revised higher after the fact, often by magnitudes far greater than in the history of counting this number. September was initially 194,000. Now it’s revised to 379,000. August was initially 235,000. Now it’s revised to 483,000. A number of other months have been upward revised by 100,000 or more.
For the last few days the world has been waiting for scientists to make sense of Omicron. Today we appear to have some new information and it’s not encouraging. I’m no scientist. So I’m going to do as little characterizing as I can. I am recommending this Twitter thread and this one, both from trustworthy people, one a journalist following COVID and another a computational biologist at the KU Leuven in Belgium.
Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold (D) sounded the already scream-worthy alarm this week.
It was a stark warning about something TPM has been covering with our hair-on-fire for some time: that the Jan. 6 attempt to steal an election was the culmination of months of President Trump’s stoking of the Big Lie, and not an isolated incident. What’s more, the attempted heist never ended.
Griswold outlined the various threats to our current democracy — like a slew of new state level restrictive voting laws and ongoing threats of violence against election workers — and observed that the election-stealing crusade is continuing as we speak. Just, perhaps, in slow motion.
A new episode of The Josh Marshall Podcast is live! This week, Josh and Kate discuss the Supreme Court’s oral arguments in a potentially historic abortion case as well as the new omicron variant.
You can listen to the new episode of The Josh Marshall Podcast here.
I didn’t get to this until last night, after the Roe coverage was completed. But it’s worth a few minutes of your time to watch Ted Cruz flailing.
Earlier I noted that a number of purple and even blueish states will likely end up banning abortion in a post-Roe world. People assume it’s just red states. But many of these states are so effectively gerrymandered that Republicans have a lock on state legislatures. But I just realized I greatly understated the situation. TPM alum Eric Kleefeld mentioned that Wisconsin never repealed its pre-Roe abortion ban. So the moment Roe is overturned, which will likely happen next June or July, abortion will be banned in Wisconsin, except in cases where necessary to protect the life of the mother.
Conservatives are trying to get ahead of the impending bad optics that will come with obstructing their way into a government shutdown. And, it appears, they have a plan: Placing the blame squarely on the Biden administration’s vaccine mandate.
The only mild saving grace to today’s SCOTUS arguments is that the pretenses are removed. These are ideologues and politicians. Their entire political movement has been propelled by the goal of overturning Roe v Wade and outlawing abortion. The conservative legal movement which birthed and swirls around The Federalist Society has many legal fish to fry. But its political potency, the engine that transformed the federal judiciary and made it more than a genteel debating society, was abortion. Of course they’re going to overturn Roe. It’s good to have that be crystal clear to anyone who wasn’t paying attention.
It’s a corrupt Court. It’s good to understand that.
With all the rush of new news and information I wanted to flag something for your attention that is at least slightly under the media radar. All signs point to a strong Republican midterm election in 2022, with the House the better prospect for Republican control. That means Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy becomes Speaker. Or actually maybe it doesn’t. A bunch of Republicans have started making clear that’s not at all a sure thing.
Not a terribly surprising stat but still noteworthy. Yale New Haven Hospital reports that 90% of their hospitalized COVID patients in recent months have been unvaccinated. What makes this so striking is that Connecticut is a super-highly vaccinated state. Among Connecticut residents over the age of 12, 83% are fully vaccinated and 94% have had at least one shot. In other words, there aren’t that many unvaccinated people in Connecticut to make up the 90%.
A Texas man who has been charged for his alleged participation in the Jan. 6 insurrection was just approved by the state Republican Party to run for a state House seat during the Republican primaries this spring. He is not alone in this endeavor.
Governments, financial markets and … oh yeah, ordinary people are trying to make sense of what new risks are posed by the Omicron variant. It’s the classic dynamic of intense hunger for information meeting far too little data to satisfy the need. Today executives from Pfizer and Moderna gave interviews which respectively reassured and spooked. Most notable however is that both said essentially the same thing. Or at least they said things which are very compatible with the same set of facts.
We’re kicking off a major new project that is part of bringing new readers into the TPM community. It’s very important to the future of the site. I think you’ll find it interesting. It builds on something we’ve done for a while but takes it to a new level.
If you’re a student we want to give you a free TPM membership. This isn’t a free trial or an upsell. It’s a full membership for one year, renewable as long as you’re a student, at no charge. No strings attached. You just have to be a registered student. You can be full-time or part-time.
Do you know a student – probably a young person but they come in all ages – who might enjoy a TPM membership? Well, let them know about our offer. Are you a teacher and have students who might enjoy and be enriched by getting a free TPM membership? You can either let them know about our program or contact us to help you with signing up a whole class or whatever group of students for TPM memberships. Whichever of these categories you’re interested in, you can start right now by clicking at this link.
It’s already November 30th. And that means it’s the day for the oral arguments in ex-President Trump’s executive privilege suit contesting the powers of the January 6th Committee. We’re live blogging the hearing here.
Rep. Ronny Jackson (R-TX), the physician and rear admiral who successfully rode the coattails of MAGA world to land a seat in the House, is spinning up a new Big Lie for the 2022 midterms – and it’s a doozy.
A reader pointed me to this article that appeared in this morning’s Washington Post. It makes the case against vaccine boosters for the whole population, as opposed to targeting to particularly vulnerable populations. Two of the authors were until very recently heads of the FDA’s vaccine research unit and the third is a member of one of the outside panels that gives the expert recommendations I referenced in the post below. Given those backgrounds, this is a good case of the expert opinion which has generally been more cautious in approving boosters for the whole population. It’s also an example that there’s a lot of expert opinion that remains against universal boosting, even as the weight of opinion has swung in the opposite direction.
Today we’re seeing a host of experts, public health officials and more saying that we need to speed up giving everyone booster shots, with or without Omicron. Now apparently we’re behind on boosters. We lost time. But let’s slow down a second here: The Biden White House has been full speed ahead on boosters since the late summer. Indeed, they’ve gotten a lot of grief for jumping the gun and being ‘ahead of the science’. The push for boosters from the White House got slowed down at the CDC and FDA.
A small point. But, as we batten down the hatches on the COVID front, it’s worth remembering that as it does in politics, looking at America’s COVID epidemiology through the prism of states is as frequently misleading as not. Here in Manhattan (New York County), where I’m writing this morning, 87.2% of the population has had at least one dose of a COVID vaccine. Over the age of 18 that percentage jumps to 94.3%. But in Allegany County, far to the west, that one dose number drops to 45.3%. Might as well be different country, let alone a different state.
That’s Allegany County. But in almost bordering Erie County (the home of Buffalo) the one dose number is 70.1%.
You’ve now heard about the omicron variant, named after a Greek letter like any other and yet one which certainly sounds more badass and otherworldly than all but one or two others in the Greek alphabet. In just days Omicron has put the whole world on alert, shaking equities markets and spurring a range of travel restrictions. If you’re interested in getting good and very up-to-date information on this emerging story, I have a Twitter list I host with a range of trustworthy experts and science journalists. You can see it here.
On November 30th, Barbados will become a republic. Queen Elizabeth II will cease to the Queen of Barbados and the country’s head of state. She will be succeeded by the current Governor-General, Sandra Mason, who will herself transition into the country’s first elected President. Prime Minister Mia Mottley will remain Prime Minister in the transition to republican government. Barbados gained its independence in 1966. Prince Charles will represent Queen Elizabeth at the transition ceremonies which will kick off on the evening of the 29th.
Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) on Tuesday said it is “hard to see” how Attorney General Jeff Sessions can remain in his position after refusing to answer questions during an open session of the Senate Intelligence Committee.
“Attorney General Sessions has recused himself from the investigation of Russian interference in our election, recommended the dismissal of the Director of the FBI, reportedly offered his resignation to the President, and refused to answer questions from the Senate Intelligence Committee,” Durbin said in a statement. “It is hard to see how he can continue to serve.”
Sessions cited executive privilege several times while testifying before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday, though he acknowledged that President Donald Trump has not in fact invoked it yet.
“So what is the legal basis for your refusal to answer these questions?” Sen. Angus King (I-ME) pressed him.
“I’m protecting the right of the President to assert it if he chooses,” Sessions replied.
The Republican National Committee sent out a fundraising email on Tuesday attributed to President Donald Trump and warning of a “WITCH-HUNT” after Attorney General Jeff Sessions testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee.
“There is an effort to SABOTAGE us,” the email attributed to Trump reads.
It accused Democrats of “using a conspiracy theory” to “DERAIL” Trump’s presidency.
“We MUST keep fighting,” the email reads. “WITCH-HUNT!”
Trump did not offer any comment on Sessions’ testimony via Twitter, his favored medium for rapid response.
New RNC email subject-lined: "Is this really happening in America?" pic.twitter.com/x3I02ChOrF
— Zeke Miller (@ZekeJMiller) June 13, 2017
CNN’s Wolf Blitzer said after Attorney General Jeff Sessions testified to the Senate Intelligence Committee Tuesday that Republicans hadn’t yet committed to responding to Sessions’ testimony on the network.
“I just want to alert our viewers that we’ve invited Republicans to join us as well,” Blitzer said, before an interview Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT). “Hopefully they will. So far we’ve received certain maybes down the road.”
Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) on Tuesday said he did not recall Attorney General Jeff Sessions taking any interest in Russia as a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, though Sessions claimed he met with Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak in that capacity.
Sessions testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee that he pressed Kislyak on Russia’s actions in Ukraine.
“I remember pushing back on it and it was testy on that subject,” Sessions said.
“Knowing you on the committee, I can’t imagine that,” McCain replied.
He asked Sessions whether he talked to Kislyak about Russian interference in elections held by U.S. allies.
“I don’t recall that being discussed,” Sessions said.
“If you spoke with Ambassador Kislyak in your capacity as a member of the Armed Services Committee, you presumably talked with him about Russia-related security issues that you have demonstrated as important to you as a member of the committee,” McCain said.
“Did I discuss security issues?” Sessions repeated in apparent confusion.
“I don’t recall you as being particularly vocal on such issues,” McCain said. “In your capacity as the chairman of the Strategic Forces Subcommittee, what Russia-related security issues did you hold hearings on or otherwise demonstrate a keen interest in?”
“We may have discussed that,” Sessions said, apparently responding to McCain’s earlier question. “I just don’t have a real recall of the meeting. I was not making a report about it to anyone. I just was basically willing to meet and see what he discussed.”
“And his response was?” McCain pressed.
“I don’t recall,” Sessions said.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions was confronted with his flip-flops on then-FBI Director James Comey’s handling of the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s private email server Tuesday.
During a hearing of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI) quoted Sessions’ responses to then-FBI Director James Comey’s announcement in July 2016 that he would not recommend charges against Clinton.
Sessions signed onto a memo from Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein that cited Comey’s handling of the case as unprofessional, and one justification for his firing.
On July 7, Reed said, Sessions said the email investigation dismissal “was not his problem, it’s Hillary Clinton’s problem,” referring to Comey.
Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Richard Burr (R-NC) cut off Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) for the second time in a week on Tuesday as she pressed Attorney General Jeff Sessions to discuss a policy he cited to avoid answering other questions.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions snapped at Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) during a hearing of the Senate Intelligence Committee Tuesday, saying the pace of her questioning made him nervous, and that she would accuse him of lying if he was not given time to qualify his answers.
“As it relates to your knowledge, Did you have any communication with any Russian businessmen or any Russian nationals?” Harris asked Sessions.
“I don’t believe I had any conversation with Russian businessmen or Russian nationals—” Sessions began in response.
Harris interjected: “Are you aware of any communications —
“— although a lot of people were at the convention it’s conceivable that somebody —” Sessions continued, before Harris spoke again
“Sir, I have just a few—” she began.
“Will you let me qualify it!” Sessions said, voice raised. “If I don’t qualify it, you’ll accuse me of lying. So I need to be as correct as best I can—”
“I do want you to be honest,” Harris said
“—and I’m not able to be rushed this fast. It makes me nervous,” Sessions said.
Watch below via ABC News:
— ABC News (@ABC) June 13, 2017
Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Tuesday said suggestions he met with Russian officials to influence the 2016 election are like a story written by Lewis Carroll.
Sessions’ simile was perhaps prompted by Sen. Tom Cotton’s (R-AR) remark that Democrats went “down lots of other rabbit trails” in their lines of questioning as Sessions testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee.
“It’s just like through the looking glass. I mean, what is this?” Sessions said.
Sessions said he “explained how in good faith” he claimed he had not met with Russian officials.
“They were suggesting I as a surrogate had been meeting continuously with Russians,” Sessions said. “I said I didn’t meet with them. And now, the next thing you know, I’m accused of some reception, plotting some sort of influence campaign for the American election. It’s just beyond my capability to understand.”
Attorney General Jeff Sessions told the Senate Intelligence Committee Tuesday that all he knew about Russian meddling in the 2016 election he had learned from press reports.
Earlier in the hearing, Sessions said he had “in effect” recused himself from campaign-related matters the day after he was sworn in as attorney general, and not after later reports he had had undisclosed meetings with the Russian ambassador — at which point he publicly announced a recusal for the first time.
“Do you believe the Russians interfered with the 2016 election?” Sen. Angus King (I-ME) asked Sessions.
“It appears so,” Sessions said. “The intelligence community seems to be united in that. But I have to tell you, Sen. King, I know nothing but what I’ve read in the paper. I’ve never received any detailed briefing on how a hacking occurred or how information was alleged to have influenced the campaign.”
“There was a memorandum from the intelligence community on Oct. 9 that detailed what the Russians were doing,” King said. “After the election, before the inauguration, you never sought any information about this rather dramatic attack on our country?”
“No,” Sessions replied.
“You never asked for a briefing or attended a briefing or read the intelligence reports?” King asked.
“You might have been very critical of me if I, as an active part of the campaign, was seeking intelligence relating to something that might be relevant to the campaign,” Sessions said. “I’m not sure that would be —”
“I’m not talking about the campaign,” King interjected. “I’m talking about what the Russians did. You received no briefing on the Russian active measures in connection with the 2016 election?”
“No, I don’t believe I ever did,” Sessions said.
In his highly anticipated appearance before the Senate Intelligence Committee, Attorney General Jeff Sessions attempted to shoot down recent reports that he failed to disclose a third meeting with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak in 2016—on the sidelines of a Trump campaign speech at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, D.C.
In response to questions from Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO), Sessions admitted that he may have had an “encounter” with Kislyak, but not a “formal meeting.”
“I didn’t have any formal meeting with him. I’m confident of that. But I may have had an encounter during the reception,” he said.
This is not exactly what Sessions said in his opening statement, in which he said he did not “recall any conversations with any Russian officials at the Mayflower Hotel.”
Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Tuesday said President Donald Trump has not invoked executive privilege, though Sessions cited it several times as the reason for his refusal to answer questions from the Senate Intelligence Committee.
“Has the President invoked executive privilege in the case of your testimony here today?” Sen. Angus King (I-ME) asked.
“He has not,” Sessions replied.
“Then what is the basis of your refusal to answer these questions?” King pressed. “The President hasn’t asserted it. You said you don’t have the power to assert the power of executive privilege, so what is the legal basis for your refusal to answer these questions?”
“I’m protecting the right of the President to assert it if he chooses,” Sessions said.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions said he would have quit the Trump campaign if there had been an “improper” or “illegal relationship” with Russia, in an effort to “impede or influence this campaign.”
“Sen. Risch asked you a question about appropriateness — ‘If you had known that there had been anything untoward with regard to Russia and the campaign would you have headed for the exits?’ Your response was ‘Maybe,‘” Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-NM) told Sessions during a hearing of the Senate Intelligence Committee. “Why wasn’t it a simple ‘Yes’?”
“Well, if there was an improper, illegal relationship in an effort to impede or influence this campaign, I absolutely would have departed,” Sessions said.
Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-NM) on Tuesday accused Attorney General Jeff Sessions of “obstructing” the congressional investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election by declining to answer questions.
“You are obstructing that congressional investigation by not answering these questions,” Heinrich told Sessions during an open session of the Senate Intelligence Committee.
He said Sessions’ silence “speaks volumes.”
“I would say that I have consulted with senior career attorneys in the department and they believe this is consistent with my duties,” Sessions replied.
“I suspect you have,” Heinrich shot back.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Tuesday got testy about “secret innuendo” that has called his honesty into question.
“Mr. Comey said that there were matters with respect to the recusal that were problematic and he couldn’t talk about them. What are they?” Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) asked Sessions, referring to fired FBI Director James Comey’s testimony last week before the Senate Intelligence Committee.
“Why don’t you tell me? There are none, Sen. Wyden. There are none, I can tell you that for absolute certainty,” Sessions fired back. “This is a secret innuendo being leaked out there about me and I don’t appreciate it.”
Attorney General Jeff Sessions refused to answer on Tuesday the reasons for former FBI Director James Comey’s firing, during testimony to the Senate Intelligence Committee, including whether he discussed the Russia investigation with President Donald Trump.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Tuesday testified he does not know whether or not President Donald Trump records conversations that take place in the White House.
“Do you know if the President records conversations in the Oval Office or anywhere in the White House?” Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) asked Sessions during an open session of the Senate Intelligence Committee.
“I do not,” Sessions replied.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Tuesday confirmed to the Senate Intelligence Committee that President Donald Trump cleared the room of administration officials on Feb. 14 before speaking with then-FBI Director James Comey alone.
Comey told the same committee last week that Trump asked him to drop the probe into ousted National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, who had been forced to resign the previous day, after everyone had cleared the room.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions testified on Tuesday that he did not “recall” whether or not he had a third meeting with Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak, though he denied doing so earlier in his opening remarks before the Senate Intelligence Committee.
“Certainly, I can assure you, nothing improper, if I’d had a conversation with him, and it’s conceivable that occurred. I just don’t remember,” Sessions said. “I guess I could say that I possibly had a meeting, but I still do not recall it, and I did not in any way fail to record something in my testimony or in my subsequent letter intentionally false.”
In his opening remarks at the hearing, Sessions said he “did not have any private meetings” and could not “recall any conversations” with Russian officials at a Washington, D.C. hotel.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions told the Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday that he had “no idea” if President Donald Trump had confidence in the special counsel leading the Russia investigation, Robert Mueller.
“I have known Mr. Mueller over the years, he served 12 years as FBI director. I knew him before that, and I have confidence in Mr. Mueller,” Sessions said. “But I’m not going to discuss hypotheticals or what might be a factual situation in the future that I’m not aware of today because I know nothing about the investigation, I have fully recused myself.
“Do you believe the President has confidence in Mr. Mueller?” Ranking Member Mark Warner (D-VA) asked.
“I have no idea, I’ve not talked to him about it,” Sessions said.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Tuesday said he would appear before Senate committees only “as appropriate” and would not commit to handing over documents to entities investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election.
“I will commit to appear before this committee and other committees as appropriate,” Sessions said, testifying before the Senate Intelligence Committee. “I don’t think it’s good policy to continually bring Cabinet members or the attorney general before multiple committees going over the same things over and over.”
Attorney General Jeff Sessions said he recused himself from the federal investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election because he had been associated with the Trump campaign — rather because of the Washington Post’s reporting that he had undisclosed meetings with the Russian ambassador to the United States.
Sessions said he “in effect” recused himself the day after his swearing in as attorney general, even though he did not announce it publicly at the time.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Tuesday testified that there is “nothing wrong” about conversations taking place between the president and the director of the FBI.
“Did Director Comey ever express additional discomfort with conversations that the President might’ve had with him? Because he had two additional meetings and I think a total of six phone calls,” Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC), the chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, asked Sessions, referring to fired FBI head James Comey.
“That is correct. There’s nothing wrong with the President having the communication with the FBI director,” Sessions replied. “What is problematic for any Department of Justice employee is to talk to any Cabinet persons or White House officials, high officials, about ongoing investigations that are not properly cleared through the top levels of the Department of Justice.”
Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Tuesday disputed former FBI Director James Comey’s testimony last week before the Senate Intelligence Committee about his response to Comey’s request not to be left alone with President Donald Trump.
“Mr. Comey expressed concern about proper communications protocol with the White House and with the President. I responded,” Sessions said. “He didn’t recall this, but I responded to his comment by agreeing that the FBI and the Department of Justice needed to be careful to follow department policies regarding appropriate contacts with the White House.”
The Justice Department on Tuesday released Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ opening statement to the Senate Intelligence Committee, as prepared for delivery. Read it after the jump:
Attorney General Jeff Sessions called the “suggestion” he colluded with Russians in the 2016 election “an appalling and detestable lie.”
“I have never met with or had any conversation with any Russians or any foreign officials concerning any type of interference with any campaign or election in the United States,” Sessions told the Senate Intelligence Committee Tuesday. “Further, I have no knowledge of any such conversations by anyone connected to the Trump campaign.”
“I was your colleague in this body for 20 years, at least some of you,” he continued. “And the 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.”
“I did not have any private meetings nor do I recall any conversations with any Russian officials at the Mayflower Hotel,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions testified on Tuesday before the Senate Intelligence Committee.
He said he did not “have any recollection or meeting” of talking to Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak “or any other Russian officials.”
“If any brief interaction occurred in passing with the Russian ambassador during that reception, I do not remember it,” Sessions said.
In his opening statement to the Senate Intelligence Committee Tuesday, Attorney General Jeff Sessions said he appreciated “the committee’s critically important efforts to investigate Russian interference with our democratic processes.”
“Such interference can never be tolerated and I encourage every effort to get to the bottom of any such allegations,” he said.
Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA), the vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, delivered remarks at the beginning of an open hearing on Tuesday before Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ scheduled testimony.