At one point, Sessions invoked his "right" not to answer questions because President Donald Trump might theoretically invoke executive privilege in the future-a "right", Senator Angus King noted, that does not exist.
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.
The Justice Department subsequently released decades-old memos from its Office of Legal Counsel that it said supported Sessions' position.
A third such meeting may have occurred on the sidelines of a foreign-policy speech Trump delivered in Washington, but Sessions - as he did dozens of times Tuesday in answer to all sorts of questions - said he "could not recall" whether he met with Kislyak at the event.
During questioning by Sen.
Addressing allegations that he had unreported meetings with Russian officials while he advised the Trump campaign, Sessions said he had already acknowledged two encounters a year ago with Ambassador Sergey Kislyak.
Richard Shelby, R-Ala., and Rep. John Abney Culberson, R-Texas, Sessions said that he had been scheduled to discuss the Justice Department budget before House and Senate Appropriations subcommittees but that it had become clear some members would focus their questions on the Russian Federation investigation.
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.
Even before Sessions testified, attention in Washington swivelled to whether Trump might seek to fire Robert Mueller, the former FBI director named last month by the Justice Department to head a federal probe into the Russian Federation issue. He did not, at that time, tell me any details about anything that was said that was improper.
In a snappy exchange with Sen. Ron Wyden of OR had a heated exchange during Sessions' Tuesday hearing before the Senate Intelligence Committee after Wyden said Sessions was "stonewalling" in his answers.
Wyden said the answer "doesn't smell the pass test". His staff said Sessions did not mislead Congress because the encounters were part of his job as a USA senator, not as a Trump campaign representative. "I am following the historic policies of the Department of Justice!"
Wyden pressed Sessions on why he had recused himself from the investigation into Russian interference, asking about issues Comey had said he was unable to address.
"I know how this will be discussed, but that's the rule that's been long adhered to by Department of Justice, as you know, Sen". Wyden. There are none. Sessions: "I don't recall it, but I have to tell you, I can not testify to what was said as we were standing at the Republican convention before the podium where we spoke". "People are suggesting through innuendo that I have been not honest. and I've tried to be honest". I never met with them.
Last week, Comey told the Senate committee that Trump had fired him to undermine the FBI's investigation of the Russian Federation matter.
"Sooner or later the attorney general must answer for his actions", Leahy said on the floor Tuesday.
"Senator Feinstein, that would call for a communication between the director and the president and I'm not able to comment on that".
"I believe it was the next day that [Comey] said something, expressed concern, about being left alone with the president", Sessions said. "I responded to his comments by agreeing that the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Department of Justice needed to be careful to follow department policies regarding appropriate contact with the White House".
According to Comey, Trump said of Flynn: "He is a good guy".
If Trump were targeting Mueller, dismissing him would not be a simple matter.
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