Comey trusted more than Trump to tell the truth

It would have been unthinkable for Comey to say the questioning made him nervous, or to become agitated and tetchy as Sessions did under cross-examination by the Democratic senator Ron Wyden, of Oregon.

"He didn't recall this, but I responded to his comment by agreeing that the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Department of Justice needed to be careful to follow department policy regarding appropriate contacts with the White House", Sessions told the panel.

Do you ever have any question about anything you wish to ask and get answer? "You're impeding this investigation".

Sessions's eagerly awaited testimony came just a week after ousted FBI Director James Comey told the same panel that Trump, whom he called a liar, had asked for personal loyalty and privately urged the FBI boss to clear a former White House official then under investigation, before eventually firing Comey. Sessions previously offered to resign because of tensions with Trump over his recusal decision.

He also declined to say if he had spoken with Justice Department or White House officials about pardons for persons implicated in the Russian Federation probe. Sessions is the most senior member of President Donald Trump's administration caught up in the controversy over whether associates of the president colluded with Russian Federation to help Trump win the election. "Further, I have no knowledge of any such conversations by anyone connected with the Trump campaign", Sessions said.

When the committee gets an answer to that question, it will be a lot closer to getting to the bottom of the Russian Federation collusion allegation than it is today.

"I affirmed his concern that we should be following the proper guidelines of the Department of Justice".

Asked about the comment on Tuesday, Sessions described it as a smear campaign against him.

One form of executive privilege is the deliberative process privilege, which involves advice given to the president - for example, during deliberations or the decision-making process of executive officials.




"What we try to do, I think most cabinet officials, others that you questioned recently, officials before the committee, (is) protect the president's right to do so", said Sessions.

The committee can hold Sessions in contempt when he doesn't answer questions - but that could elongate the testimony and could potentially take months. Federal agencies in the intelligence community released a report in early January concluding Russian Federation meddled in the presidential campaign cycle.

Heinrich likened Sessions to Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats and NSA direct Mike Rogers, who declined to talk about their conversations with Trump last week.

Sessions had agreed to testify before the committee regarding ongoing investigations into interference by the Russian government during the 2016 election.

"No", Comey said. "Not with President Trump". But the revelations prompted Sessions to recuse himself from the Russian Federation investigation in March.

U.S. intelligence agencies concluded in a report released in January that Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an effort to interfere in the election to help Trump in part by hacking and releasing damaging emails about Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton. I never met with them.

Speaking at a news conference, Ryan said he knows Mueller and his team and has confidence in his investigation. Kamala Harris pointedly noted, "Just on the first page of your three pages of written testimony, you wrote, 'nor do I recall, ' 'do not have recollection, ' 'do not remember it'".

Deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein wrote the president a letter bashing Comey's conduct, and Sessions called for new leadership at the bureau the day before Trump fired Comey, who was heading up the FBI's Russian Federation probe.

Legal experts have told ThinkProgress that Trump's public disclosures regarding Comey's firing put into question whether his conversations with Comey are protected by presidential executive privilege, a legal doctrine that is not constitutionally guaranteed but that historically has protected a president's communications.

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