‘An Appalling And Detestable Lie’ Highlights From Sessions’ Senate Testimony
Attorney General Jeff Sessions testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee Tuesday, fiercely maintaining he did nothing wrong in meeting twice with the Russian ambassador to the U.S. during President Trump’s 2016 campaign and also infuriating Democrats by refusing to detail any conversations he has had with the president.
1. “An appalling and detestable lie”
“Let me state this clearly: I have never met with or had any conversations with any Russians or any foreign officials concerning any type of interference with any campaign or election. 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, and the suggestion that I participated in any collusion or that I was aware of any collusion with the Russian government to hurt this country, which I have served with honor for over 35 years, or to undermine the integrity of our democratic process, is an appalling and detestable lie.”
2. Sessions contested James Comey on the fact that the attorney general had not responded when he asked him not to leave him alone with Mr. Trump again.
“While he did not provide me with any of the substance of his conversation with the president, Mr. Comey expressed concern about the proper communications protocol with the White House and with the president,” he said. “I responded to his comment by agreeing that the F.B.I. and Department of Justice needed to be careful to follow department policies regarding appropriate contacts with the White House.”
3. Sessions refuses to talk about communications with Trump
Sessions repeatedly refused to discuss his conversations with Mr. Trump about the Russia investigation or Mr. Comey’s firing beyond what was in his memo recommending that Mr. Comey be fired, which the White House released. Democratic senators reacted angrily, noting that Mr. Trump had not invoked executive privilege to bar such testimony.
Mr. Sessions argued that it was a longstanding practice not to disclose confidential conversations with the president that would potentially be subject to executive privilege, but several senators said that was not a legal basis to refuse to answer their questions.
“The problem I have with it is that it’s similar to a claim of executive privilege without the president actually uttering the words or formally declaring that power,” he said. “It puts Congress in an impossible position if a member of the administration can simply claim a right of private communications for the president that could stand as a basis for refusing to answer anything.”
4. Sessions defends his recusal decision
“It is absurd, frankly, to suggest that a recusal from a single specific investigation would render an attorney general unable to manage the leadership of the various Department of Justice law enforcement components that conduct thousands of investigations,” he said.
He argued that he recused himself not because of “any sort of wrongdoing,” but in accordance with department regulations regarding his involvement with Mr. Trump’s presidential campaign.
“This is the reason I recused myself,” he said, holding up a copy of the rule. “I felt I was required to under the rules of the Department of Justice.”
But Mr. Sessions made it clear that would not stop him from defending himself.
“I recused myself from any investigation into the campaign for president, but I did not recuse myself from defending my honor against scurrilous and false accusations,” he said.
5. Sessions gets defensive
Sessions originally said that he disaffiliated himself simply because he was an adviser to Trump during the campaign, but doubt was cast on that explanation when Comey testified last week and said he had thought Sessions would recuse himself earlier than he did for “problematic” reasons that needed to be discussed in a closed session.
Sessions raised his voice in protest when asked what those reasons were.
“Why don’t you tell me? There are none, Sen. Wyden. There are none!” he said. “I can tell you that with absolute certainty. This is a secret innuendo being leaked out there about me, and I don’t appreciate it.”
Watch the entire testimony:
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