Published: Thu, June 15, 2017
Industry | By Dora Warner

Sessions Dodges Trump Questions, Riles Democrats

In other words, President Trump committed a felony if he acted with the intent of impeding the FBI investigation.

After the testimony of former FBI Director James Comey, what are the defenses to the charge that President Donald Trump engaged in obstruction of justice?

He recused himself from the Russia investigation after the meetings with the Russian ambassador were publicized in the news media.

It's not clear if Sessions meant to pay penance to Trump after their relationship strained over the President's concerns that Sessions burned him by stepping aside from the Russian Federation probe - but he did a good job defending the White House anyway.

Russian Federation has denied repeatedly that it interfered in the US election, and Trump has denied any collusion by his campaign with Moscow.

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) said Sessions was "stonewalling", and the public was frustrated by it.

But analysts disagreed on whether the attorney general was appropriately using executive privilege to advance a worthy goal, or merely suggesting it as a shield to fend off questions he did not want to take.

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At his own big turn before the committee, Sessions declared, "I am not stonewalling!"

Then there was the fact, revealed in Sessions' testimony yesterday, that he had never met with Comey to discuss what he took to be his poor performance.

Several times Sessions said he couldn't answer the questions because it would disclose a private conversation with the president without first giving Trump the chance to invoke executive privilege. Angus King (I-Maine), noting that Trump had not yet asserted his executive privilege on the matter.

And he's also not being really honest about what the question was that he was asked and that he just didn't answer the question I asked but rather chose to say that he hadn't met with Russians.

American intelligence agencies believe that Russian hackers were directed by the Kremlin to try to sway the presidential election in Trump's favour. "I have confidence in Mr. Mueller", he said.

SHAPIRO: I know you were not in the hearing room today.

"I'm not able to comment on conversations with high officials within the White House", Sessions said. And he declared it a "detestable and appalling lie" to suggest he was aware of or took part in any collusion between Russian Federation and the election campaign that sent Trump to the White House. Trump abruptly fired Comey, ousting the nation's top law enforcement official in the midst of an investigation into whether Trump's campaign had ties to Russia's election meddling.

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In his opening remarks, Sessions said he knew of no conversations between Trump campaign individuals and Russian officials about interfering in the US election.

Democrats, who once called for Comey's head on a pike, had hoped he would be their poster boy for yanking Trump out of the White House. That upset some Democratic senators who said he has no reason to avoid giving answers.

Sessions also responded to questions regarding his involvement with former FBI Director James Comey's firing last month, saying that it was his duty as attorney general to make the personnel changes the president wanted.

But not long after Jeff Sessions denied any knowledge of a meeting with Sergey Kislyak, a picture began making the rounds showing that the two were indeed together on the day of Trump's speech at the Mayflower Hotel - or so it seemed.

"Lordy, I hope there are tapes", Comey testified last week. Both men agreed that Comey did not tell Sessions about the subject of his conversation with Trump, which Comey testified was the president's request that he drop the FBI investigation of former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn. Trump has cooled on him, Congress is set to interrogate him, and a special counsel could end up making him a focus of a criminal investigation.

Sessions was the latest administration official to refuse to answer questions from senators about their interactions with the president on topics related to any relationship Trump campaign and transition-team members had with Russian officials or businessmen.

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