Sessions vows to defend himself against 'false allegations'

The attorney general came under intense scrutiny in February amid revelations that the former Trump campaign surrogate had met twice with Kislyak during Trump's campaign and failed to disclose the meetings to members of the Senate Judiciary Committee during his confirmation hearing in January.

Asked by Joe Manchin, the Democratic senator from West Virginia, whether a list of Trump campaign advisors were in direct contact with Russian officials, Session said "I have no information" or "I don't recall" to each name-except for Carter Page, a campaign advisor who in May of this year admitted to the Senate committee that he had meetings with a Russian "junior attaché that the U.S. intelligence community believes to be a Kremlin spy". But his former Democratic colleagues pressed him repeatedly on his contacts with Russian Federation and his role in the dismissal of Comey - who led the FBI's probe on Russian Federation until he was ousted.

"I was your colleague in this body for 20 years", Sessions said. "But this is the reason I recused myself: I felt I was required to under the rules of the Department of Justice".

"But even after recusing himself, Sessions recommended that the President fire FBI Director Comey - who was leading the Russian Federation investigation", she continued in a series of tweets. And while he did criticize Comey's handling of the Hillary Clinton e-mail fiasco a year ago - which you'll recall was the official White House explanation for why Comey was canned until the president admitted it was about the Russian Federation probe - Sessions passed up multiple opportunities to join in the Comey-bashing. But Sessions denies that and denied that very emphatically in this heated exchange with Democratic Senator Ron Wyden. Sessions replied "I think so", and said he had discussed it with his staff. "There are none, Sen Wyden, there are none", Mr Sessions insisted, his voice rising. "This is a secret innuendo being leaked out there about me and I don't appreciate it and I've tried to give my best and truthful answers", Sessions said.

Sen. Mark Warner, D., Va., asked the attorney general if he had confidence in former FBI Director Robert Mueller's appointment as special counsel to probe whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russian Federation.

"As such", he said, "I have no knowledge about this investigation, as it is ongoing today, beyond what has been publicly reported". Under the regulation, special counsel Mueller may be fired only for good cause, and I am required to put that cause in writing.

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"It's something that we both agreed to that a fresh start at the Federal Bureau of Investigation was probably the best thing", Sessions said of his conversations with Rosenstein regarding replacing the Federal Bureau of Investigation director before Comey was sacked. And he said, I was only recused from Russian Federation. However, Sessions said Comey should have spoken to his bosses if he wanted to or was asked to talk to the president about the investigation. "It's not only highly unusual, but I'm not sure it's appropriate", Mr. Cramer, a security and business consultant with Berkeley Research Group, said in an interview.

But he refused to discuss the reports "because I know nothing about the investigation".

The attorney general has since recused himself from the Russia investigation - a decision he sought to cast Tuesday as resulting from his role as an adviser on the Trump campaign, rather than because of any inappropriate interaction with Russian officials.

Many of those who posted the picture noted that Sessions was speaking to Kislyak, making it seem as if Sessions was purposely lying about not speaking to Kislyak or not remembering the meeting, but in the photo, the Russian ambassador was actually seated several rows away from Sessions. But he did allow for the possibility that he encountered the ambassador in a reception that was attended by a couple-dozen people, although he said he had no specific recollection of that.

He's been hounded by speculation over the possibility of a third meeting, with Democratic senators calling for an investigation.

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