WASHINGTON (CBSMiami) – Attorney General Jeff Sessions faced the Senate to talk about the Russia probe and Comey’s firing.
Sessions started off by saying any suggestion he participated in or was aware of any collusion with the Russian government is an “appalling and detestable lie.”
The attorney general recused himself from the Russia investigation after he admitted that he had not disclosed two encounters with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak in 2016. Despite that he says he recused himself over a Department of Justice policy.
“I thought there was a problem with me being able to serve as attorney general over this issue and I felt I would possibly have to recuse myself,” said Sessions.
Comey last week hinted that there might be more to Sessions’ recusal.
“We also were aware of facts that I can’t discuss in an opening setting,” Comey told the panel last week.
The attorney general denied any suggestion of a third encounter with Russian officials. He also denied that he had a meeting at the Mayflower Hotel with Kislyak on April 27, 2016 ahead of Trump’s first foreign policy speech.
“I may have had an encounter during the reception,” Ssaid about it.
As for the firing of former FBI Director James Comey, Sessions was asked about his role in the matter even though President Trump said he had made his own decision on the matter.
“I believe it’s been made public that the president asked us our opinion. It was given and he asked us to put it in writing….I would let his words speak for themselves,” said Sessions on Comey’s firing.
When pressed about it by Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Session responded with few words.
“Do you concur that POTUS was going to fire Comey regardless,” asked Sen. Feinstein.
“I guess I’ll just have to let his words speak for [themselves],” responded Sessions.
He also added, “a fresh start at thewas probably the best thing.”
The attorney general said that Comey conveyed to him that he was concerned about a private meeting the former FBI director had with the president.
“Do you remember lingering? Do you remember feeling that you needed to stay,” asked Florida Senator Marco Rubio on Comey’s suggestion that Sessions lingered when he realized Comey would be left alone with the president.
Sessions said he did recall being one of the last ones to leave but that Comey did not express his concerns until the next day.
“He was concerned about it,” said Sessions.
Senate members also asked Sessions about Trump’s suggestion there are recordings of the president’s private conversations with Comey at the White House. To that, Sessions said he did not know about it.
As for the independent Russia probe, Sessions was asked about speculation that President Trump is considering firing Special Counsel Robert Mueller.
“I have confidence in Mr. Mueller,” responded Sessions.
In a hearing earlier in the day, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosentein was asked about it. To that he said , he did not see a cause for it and it would be up to him.
“Senator I’m not going to follow any orders unless I believe those are lawful and appropriate orders. Under the regulation special counsel Mueller may only be fired for good cause,” said Rosenstein.