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tv   News Sessions Senate Testimony  BBC News  June 13, 2017 7:26pm-9:52pm BST

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1 “mm; 1 ‘ur 1 555515“ 1 ‘a15 itfifisit 1 mm 1 ‘a5 itfifisit u— ‘a5 1 “a “ad“ ' ‘a5 it wit ur ‘a5 “m it we. come, including that hearing in the senate for the attorney general, jeff sessions. do stay with us. we are also watching capitol hill in washington where the attorney generaljeff sessions is going to testify in public as part of congress multi—mac investigation to do with russia. you can see the scene there, the reporters, the members of congress will soon be filing in. the attorney general will set in the seat in front of them. and they will all be grilled. quite a lot to get into as well. reacting to james comey‘s testimony last week. a lot of speculation about what jeff sessions last week. a lot of speculation about whatjeff sessions might say. and what he might not say. he might exercise his executive privilege. we will see. but it is going to be in public, the committee have demanded that it public, the committee have demanded thatitis public, the committee have demanded that it is in public. yes, they will be watching out for
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the fbi director, how he was fired, whatjeff sessions will say about that. also his contacts with russian officials. earlier today, that. also his contacts with russian officials. earliertoday, ispoke that. also his contacts with russian officials. earlier today, i spoke to a democratic congressmen, a member of the house intelligence committee, i asked him what he hopes to hear from mr sessions. what do you want to hear from jeff sessions when he testifies in the senate? i think senate? ithink we're senate? i think we're going to have a chance to hear from jeff sessions. most importantly about whether or not the reserve third meeting with the russian ambassador in washington, thatis russian ambassador in washington, that is going to be very important. also, get an update about his working relationship with the white house. there had been some discussion about the possibility that he offered his resignation, which is very troubling. we don't understand why that would be, whether it wasjust understand why that would be, whether it was just friction between he and the president, or some more substantive issue that committee should know about. so there should
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be very important issues today. you sit on the house intelligence committee, and you havejust you sit on the house intelligence committee, and you have just been given extra funding for the russian investigation. what i do looking at? you're looking at the idea of whether there was collusion between the trump campaign and the russians, oi’ the trump campaign and the russians, or obstruction ofjustice, or are you looking at the possibility of perjury? certainly, the special council is the one we will be most concerned with any crimes that were committed, obstruction ofjustice, perjury. for the intelligence committee, we want to make sure of two things. number one, that we take all measures to prevent any kind of foreign interference with american elections in the future, whether it is 2018 or the next essential election. and we have to do that to dissuade not only the russians but any other foreign government or non—state actor who has the cyber capabilities to mess with america's elections will stop we with america's elections will stop we need to dissuade them from doing that. every american is owed the answer to this question, whether
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pa rt of answer to this question, whether part of what happened was an inside job, whether any american or americans, spires are coordinated or couuded americans, spires are coordinated or colluded with the russians who interfered with our 2016 elections. the committee will try to get to the bottom of that. iam sure bottom of that. i am sure you have heard this from republican voters in your district, there is some sense that the democrats are out to make the trump residency fail whatever it takes. listening to what you want to hear from jeff sessions, he had another meeting, maybe with a russian ambassador at the mayflower hotel. it doesn't sounds terribly nefarious. you can understand why there are trump supporters who are very critical of democrats of the moment, who think they are pushing this all russian investigation too far. i have heard that sentiment out there, andl i have heard that sentiment out there, and i think the president has a core group of supporters, about 35% of the country, that have stuck by him through thick and thin and will continue to do so. but these are very legitimate questions. they need to be answered, regarding the
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russian investigation, and whether any trump associates, spires with the russians to fiddle with our elections. do you thinkjeff sessions colluded with the russians? the question is whetherjeff sessions was fully cooperative and honest with the senate during the confirmation process, and that is why the issue of this meeting with the russian ambassador is going to be discussed. letters now get the reaction from a republican. you have been a long supporter of president trump, but the problem for him at the moment is this russian investigation, the jeff the moment is this russian investigation, thejeff sessions healing, this is not a for the administration, and they are not making it better for themselves, administration, and they are not making it betterfor themselves, are they? set part of the reason why the
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james comey testimony was so significant, i just want to go james comey testimony was so significant, ijust want to go back to congressmenjoaquin significant, ijust want to go back to congressmen joaquin castro, significant, ijust want to go back to congressmenjoaquin castro, the question that should have been asked, the biggest thing that the democrats had going for them, this theory, this operating notion that theory, this operating notion that the presidents colluded with the russians was completely shattered. it was disproven under oath by the fbi director. of course the clouds of these investigations will hang over the administration, but as long as people like jeff sessions testify under oath, but the problem that the democrats face is that the narrative of obstruction ofjustice have been shattered. but the other side of this investigation is whether there was obstruction ofjustice, and it will be the special investigator who will be the special investigator who will ultimately take the decision whether that did indeed take place. confusing the whole picture now is the idea from president trump, or the idea from president trump, or
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the suggestion that president trump is considering firing the special investigator. i do not think this is true. this rumour came from a man who did not meet with the president, and simply said that he heard the president might be considering firing robert miller. this was not really confirmed by president trump's attorney, who said he would not comment on whether or not the president would do that. this is spinning the wheels over nothing, and sean spicer made it very clear that chris roddy, the originator of this, had nothing to do with the white house. —— dup. this, had nothing to do with the white house. -- dup. you should know that chris ruddy is not someone who has just that chris ruddy is not someone who hasjust made that chris ruddy is not someone who has just made that up, he has that chris ruddy is not someone who hasjust made that up, he has been on this programme before. he did not
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meet with the president in the white house, and we heard this morning that the president was not considering it, and he would not consent to the firing of robert mueller. we just want to show our audience, here are the scenes from the senate. this is wherejeff sessions is going to come in. he is not there yet, the senators will troop into those chairs as soon as the hearing begins. i want to ask about the firing of the fbi director, james,, because there is something else that the senators will be asking jeff sessions about. particularly this idea thatjeff sessions was asked by the president to leave the room on february 1a in the oval office, when james, to leave the room on february 1a in the oval office, whenjames, you said president trump asks him to let the flynn investigation go. would it not have been better for the
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attorney general to be in on those meetings with the director of the fbi? not necessarily, because the attorney general, jeff sessions, had recused himself from the investigation into russian collusion, so in that scenario, it would not be. but evenjames, eight, although he did not cite this and has written testimony, said that the president hoped the investigation would end, not that he directed him, and he did say that he did not feel directed by the white house. jill, he has come to be grilled about how many meetings he had with the russian ambassador. —— joe. many meetings he had with the russian ambassador. ——joe. he has disclosed some of the meetings that he had had with the ambassador, in his capacity as a campaign official. what he has not disclosed as the meetings he had as a senator, and what i thinkjames, was referring to in his testimony last week, a third
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meeting that took place at a cell, and that is something i think we need to hear today. it was a reception at the mayflower hotel attended by many other diplomats, many other members of congress and members of the senate. what do the viewers out there think that the uk ambassador is doing right now in washington, dc? his meeting members of congress in both houses. this is something that happens in the order of business for the us representatives. i do not think there were any secret microchips past, no secret notes passed, this is not what we are talking about. that really does not call to mind the kind of secret meetings that i think the media is trying to portray. there, joe, thank you. thank you forjoining us,. it is
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interesting, we've just heard from a republican and from a democrat, and the audience will have to make up their mind. and the prosecutors will have to get more of the details. but there is such a sub opinion on this one here in the united states, with democrats thinking that something is going on, there was collusion or obstruction of justice, going on, there was collusion or obstruction ofjustice, there was perjury, and republicans equally convinced that the democrats are just tried to make political hay out of this. does it mean that every argument in washington, every point put forward at the moment, is fiercely partisan? yes, which is why robert mueller is so critical of this. he will sort through all of the evidence and come up with something more concrete, the special crosses “—
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something more concrete, the special crosses —— prosecutor. what is so important about these sessions? because of the questions that we discuss. jeff sessions has been close to donald trump throughout the campaign, taking a key spot in the trump administration as attorney general. he oversees enforcement of laws, and including the fbi. it is up laws, and including the fbi. it is up tojeff laws, and including the fbi. it is up to jeff sessions how forthcoming he wants to be, he could claim that some of the stuff is covered by executive privilege and he will not reveal details of conversations with the president. but what i will really be looking for is during his testimony last week, james comey said that he was in the oval office on february 14 with the president, and the president told everyone in the room to leave and james comey to stay there. and one of the people
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who hung around in that room in the chile wasjeff sessions, who hung around in that room in the chile was jeff sessions, and according to james comey, the president told jeff sessions he had to go. he shrugged and left the, and netmeeting when it was just james comey and president trump, that is when he said that president trump told him to back off the investigation into michael flynn, the formal national security adviser. i want to here what jeff sessions said happened before and after that meeting, and if he corroboratesjames, a's after that meeting, and if he corroborates james, a's account, that will give a little indication that will give a little indication that maybe donald trump knew what he was doing was not such a good idea. but a loss of this will come down to interpretation. you can see a scenario where he would say, he came up scenario where he would say, he came up to me and said don't leave me alone with the president again. and james comey said there was this pause, and james comey looked at him blankly. he might not think that he
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reacted that way that there was a problem, and it comes down to he he said. absolutely, nobody knows what happened in that room betweenjames comey and donald trump, and it will be interesting to see what jeff sessions says today, but what he does not say will also be interesting. the justice department said that they did provide a memo to james comey about how to interact with the president, the separation of the fbi and the white house. but we may not know exactly, jeff sessions may put this in a more friendly narrative for the president today. i have one theory about this, which is that the president, you will remember, has said thatjames comey is a liar, effectively. if during the course of these hearings, we hearjeff sessions corroborate
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what james comey has we hearjeff sessions corroborate whatjames comey has said, we hearjeff sessions corroborate what james comey has said, that would tend to give more credence and credibility to the fired fbi director, and i wonder if you think that the default is true and then puts mr trump that the default is true and then puts mrtrump in that the default is true and then puts mr trump in a slightly tricky position. he would have to say that james comey was lying about these encounters when we hearjeff sessions saying that what he reported was true. we have to remember that jeff sessions will be under oath, so if he corroborates what james comey has said, even the details of the meeting of the circumstances... here is jeff sessions. i am just going to interrupt you because he hasjust walked into the room, the man of the moment. jeff sessions, a long—time associate of president trump, formerly a us senator, and he got close to president trump during the campaign. i remember talking close to president trump during the campaign. i remembertalking tojeff sessions at one of the debates as he was trying to guide the presidential campaign. here is richard burr, the
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senior republican on the senate intelligence committee. and here is mark warner, the democrat with him. donald trump will be watching this quite closely because there has been speculation over the last few days that he is not particularly pleased with whatjeff sessions has said. anyway, jeff sessions is under a lot of pressure because he will know that the boss is tuning in. and if he is nervous about his job prospects, he will try to sue the right things during the course of this hearing. but as anthony said, he is under oath, and after the james comey hearing i asked both republican and democratic senators on friday if they believed james, you're the president, they said that only one person was under oath, james comey, and when you are under oath, you tend to tell the truth.
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the president will be expecting jeff sessions to stand up for him, i imagine, and to stand up for his version of events, and perhaps to make it clear that he does not believe james comey‘s version of events. that is certainly what the president would like to hear. the senators are getting ready, there is richard burr, the chairman of the committee. we know that they are not particularly short winded. let's listen. attorney general sessions, we appreciate your willingness to appear before the committee today. we thank you for your years of dedicated service as a member of this body and your recent leadership at the department ofjustice. as i
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mentioned when director james at the department ofjustice. as i mentioned when directorjames comey appeared before us last week, this committee's role is to be the eyes and ears for the other 85 members of the united states senate and for the american people, ensuring that the intelligence community is operating lawfully, and has the necessary tools to keep america safe. the community is a large and diverse place. we recognise the gravity of our investigation into russia's interference in the us 2016 presidential elections, but i remind our constituents that while we investigate russia, we are scrutinising the cia's budget while we are investigating russia, we are still scrutinising the cia, budget, and the entire effort to recruit and untamed the best talent we can find in the world. more often than not, the committee conducts its work behind closed doors, a necessary step to ensure that are most
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effective sources and methods are protected. the sanctity of these sources and methods are at the heart of the intelligence keep community ability to keep us safe, and to keep our allies safe from those to seek to harm us. i have said repeatedly that i do not believe any committee... that what the committee does should be done in public, but i also recognised the gravity of the committee's public investigation and the need for the american people to be presented with the facts so that they might make their ownjudgments. it is for that reason that this committee has now held its tenth open here in 2017. more than double that of the committee in recent years, and the fifth on the topic of russian interference. this is your opportunity to separate fact from fiction, and to set the record
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straight on a number of allegations reported in the press. for example there are several issues that i'm hoping we will address today. one, did you have any meetings with russian officials or their proxies on behalf of the trump campaign or during your time is attorney general's tonight, what was your involvement with trump's foreign policy team's three, why did you decide to reduce yourself from the government's rocher investigation? and four, what role if any did you play in the removal of fbi director james,? i play in the removal of fbi director james, ? i look play in the removal of fbi director james,? i look forward to a candid discussion as we attempt to find the truth. having spoken to more than 35 individuals today, to include just yesterday, an interview with former
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homeland security chief. we also continue to review some of the most sensitive intelligence in our country's history. we will establish facts, separate them from rampant speculation, and lay them out for the american people to make their ownjudgment. the american people to make their own judgment. only then will we as a nation be able to put this episode to rest and look to the future. i am hopeful that members will focus questions today on the rocher investigation not squander the opportunity by taking political and partisan shots. —— the rocher investigation. we may disagree at times, but we remain a unified team with a dedicated, focused and professional staff, working tirelessly on behalf of the american people to find the truth. the committee has made much progress as the political winds blow around us,
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andl the political winds blow around us, and i think everyone would agree that to spite a lot of debate about who might be best suited to lead on this issue, on this issue the intelligence committee has lived up to its responsibility to move forward with purpose and above politics. mr attorney general, forward with purpose and above politics. mrattorney general, it forward with purpose and above politics. mr attorney general, it is good to have you back. i will now turn to the vice—chairman for any remarks he might have. thank you, andi remarks he might have. thank you, and i would like to say that is good to see again, mr attorney general, and we appreciate your appearance on the heels of james comey‘s revealing testimony last week. i would like to express some concern by the process of which we are seeing you, the attorney general today. it is my understanding that you are originally scheduled to testify in front of the house in a different committee today. those appearances
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have been cancelled for you to come here today. while we appreciate his testimony before our committee, i believe, and i speakfor testimony before our committee, i believe, and i speak for many of my colleagues, i believe he should also a nswer colleagues, i believe he should also answer questions from members of those committees and the judiciary committee as well. mr attorney general, it is my hope that he will reschedule those appearances as soon as is. in addition, i want to see at the outset that were be considered europeans today has just the beginning of our interaction with you and your department, we had a lwa ys you and your department, we had always expected to talk to you as pa rt always expected to talk to you as part of our investigation. we believe that would be later in the process. “— believe that would be later in the process. —— we believed. we expect to have your commitment to cooperate with all future requests, and to make yourself available as necessary to this committee, of what the chairman has indicated is a very
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important investigation. now let's move to the subject of today's discussion, let's start with the campaign. you were an early and ardent supporter of mr trump. you we re ardent supporter of mr trump. you were much more than a severed it, you are a strategic advisor who helped to shape much of the campaign's national security strategy. no doubt you will have key insights into some of president trump's key associates that we are seeking to hear from trump's key associates that we are seeking to hearfrom in trump's key associates that we are seeking to hear from in the weeks ahead. questions have also been raised about some of your own interactions with russian officials due in the campaign. injanuary, you said you did not have communications with russians. you were later asked in writing whether you had been in contact with anyone connected to any pa rt contact with anyone connected to any part of the russian government about the 2016 election. he answered, i believe, with a definitive no.
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despite that, we discovered later that you did have interactions with russian government officials during the campaign. in march, you acknowledged to meetings with the russian ambassador. there has also been public reports of a possible third meeting at the mayflower hotel on april 27. i third meeting at the mayflower hotel on april27. i hope third meeting at the mayflower hotel on april 27. i hope that today you can help to clear up those discrepancies. we also expect and hope, this is very important, that you will be able to provide the committee with any documents that we need to shed light on this issue, such as e—mails and calendars. then there is the topic of the firing of former fbi director, james,. last thursday we received testament from james comey that under oath, he outlined his interactions with the president, as well the circumstances of his firing. if you disturbing point stood out. first, james,, who has decades of experience at the department ofjustice has decades of experience at the department of justice and has decades of experience at the department ofjustice and the fbi.
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serving under presidents of both parties, he was so unnerved by reactions of the president, that he felt compelled to document every interaction that they had. james, esat where you are sitting today, and testified that he was concerned that the president of the united states might lie about the nature of their meetings. that is a shocking statement from another nation's top law—enforcement officials. wheels are that director comey took it from the president that he was to drop the president that he was to drop the investigation into mike flynn. we also heard from mr comey that he was fired over his handling of the russian investigation. the president himself confirmed this in statements to the media. this is deeply troubling for all those who believe, on both sides, the independents on the fbi. we have a lot of work in
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order to follow up on these alarming disclosures. mr attorney general, europe testimony today is an opportunity to begin the process of asking those questions. —— your testimony. you've accused yourself from the russian investigation, yet you participated in the filing of mr comey over that same investigation. —— the filing. we want to ask you if you believe you have cooperated with the following. we heard last week that the president asked you to leave the oval office so that he could speak one—on—one with mr comey. again, a very concerning action. we will need to hear from you about how he viewed the president's request and whether you thought it was appropriate. we will also want to know if you are aware of any attempts by the president to enlist leaders of the intelligence committee to undermine this very same russian investigation. most
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importantly, we will want to hear what you are doing to ensure that the russians or any other foreign at the russians or any other foreign at the service cannot attack our democratic process like this ever again. iam democratic process like this ever again. i am concerned that the president still does not recognise the severity of the threat. to date, he has not, i believe, even acknowledged the conclusions of the us intelligence committee that russia massively intervened in our elections. the threat we face is real, that is not limited to ours. the recent events in france is a stark reminder that all western democracies must take steps to protect themselves. the united states can and must be a leader in this effort, but it will require our administration to get serious about this matter. in the past several weeks, we have seen a concerning pattern of administration officials refusing to answer public questions
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about allegations concerning the president in this investigation. i would like to commend the chairman, who at the end of a hearing last week, made it very clear that our witnesses, it was not acceptable for our witnesses to come before congress without answers. the american people deserve to know what is going on the cure. thank you mr chairman, i look forward to the attorney general‘s testimony. chairman, i look forward to the attorney general's testimonym chairman, i look forward to the attorney general's testimony. if you would stand, you can swivel. do you solemnly asserted tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you god? . i do. the floor is yours. thank you for allowing me to publicly appear before the committee today. i appreciate the committee's important efforts to investigate russian interference with our democratic
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processes. such interference can never be tolerated, and i encourage every effort to get to the bottom of any such allegations. as you know, the deputy attorney general has appointed a special counsel to investigate the matter is related to the russian interference in the 2016 election. i am the russian interference in the 2016 election. lam here the russian interference in the 2016 election. i am here today to address several issues that have been specifically raised before this committee. and i appreciate the opportunity to respond to questions as fully as the lord enables me to do so. but as i advise you, in consistence with long—standing practices, i will not violate the privacy of the president. i did not have any private meetings, nor do i re call have any private meetings, nor do i recall any conversations with any russian officials at the mayflower
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hotel. i did not attend any meetings at that event. prior to the speech i attended by the president today. i attended by the president today. i attended a reception with my staff that included at least two dozen people and president trump, although ido people and president trump, although i do recall several conversations that i had during that the speech reception, i do not have any recollection of meeting or talking to the russian ambassador or any other russian officials. if any brief interaction occurred in passing with the russian ambassador during that reception, i do not remember it. after the speech, i was interviewed by the news media in a different room, and then i left the hotel. but whether i ever attended a reception with the russian ambassador was also president is entirely beside the point of this investigation into russian interference in the 2016 campaign.
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let me state this clearly, colleagues — i have never met or had any conversation with any russian or any conversation with any russian or any foreign officials concerning any type of interference with any campaign or election in the united states. 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, at least some of you, and i... the suggestion that i participated in any collusion, that i was aware of any collusion with the russian government to hurt this country, which i have served with honour for 35 years, or to undermine the integrity of our democratic process, is an appalling and detestable lie. related, there is the assertion that i did not answer
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a senator's question honestly have my confirmation hearing. colleagues, thatis my confirmation hearing. colleagues, that is false. i cannot say colleagues now, i am no longer a pa rt of colleagues now, i am no longer a part of this body, but former colleagues, that is false. this is what happened. senator franklin asks mea what happened. senator franklin asks me a rambling question after some six hours of testimony that included dramatic new allegations that the united states intelligence community, the us intelligence community, the us intelligence community, had advised president—elect trump that there was a continuing exchange of information during the campaign between trump's surrogates and intermediaries for the russian government. i was taken aback by that explosive allegation. he said it was being reported as breaking news that very day. i had not heard at. i wanted to refute
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that immediately. any suggestion that immediately. any suggestion that i was part of such an activity, i replied to senator franklin, i am not aware of any of those activities. i have been called a surrogates in that campaign, and i'd did not have communications with the russians, and i am unable to comment on it. that was the context in which i was asked the question, and in that context, my answer was a fair and correct response to the charge asi and correct response to the charge as i understood it. i was responding to this allegation, that surrogates had been meeting with the russians ona had been meeting with the russians on a regular basis. it's simple did not occur to me to go further than the context of the question and to list any conversations that i may have had with russians in routine
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situations as i have had many routine situations... situations as i have had many routine situations. .. many situations as i have had many routine situations... many meetings of other foreign officials. so please hear me now, and it was only in march after my confirmation hearing, that a reporter asked my spokesperson whether i had ever met with any russian officials. this was the first time that mention gully question had been posed to me. hi adult a meeting with the ambassador, as well as the brief encounter in july. as well as the
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speech i gave at the convention at cleveland, ohio. ialso speech i gave at the convention at cleveland, ohio. i also provided the reporter with 25 foreign meetings i had during 2016. in addition, supplied supplemental testimony to the senate judiciary committee to explain this event. i readily acknowledge these two meetings, and certainly not one thing happen that was improper at any one of those meetings. let me explain the circumstances of my recusal from the investigation into the russian interference with the 26 election. please, colleagues, hear me. iwas sworn in as attorney general on thursday burberry denying. the very next day, as i had promised the judiciary committee i would do, on an early day, i met with department officials, including senior ethics officials, including senior ethics officials, to discuss things publicly reported in the press which may have some bearing on whether i
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should recuse myself in this case. from that point, the 10th of february, until i announced my formal recusal on the 2nd of march, i was never briefed on any investigation details, did not access any information about the investigation. i received only the limited information that the department's career officials determined what was necessary for me to form and make recusal decision. as such, i have no knowledge about this investigation, as it is ongoing today. beyond what has been publicly reported. i don't even read that. and i have taken no action whatsoever with regards to any such investigation. on the day of my former recusal, my chief of staff send an e—mail to the heads of releva nt send an e—mail to the heads of relevant departments. including by name to director comey, and the fbi, to instruct them, and advise staff of the recusal, and not to brief me
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in anyway in such matters. and in fa ct, in anyway in such matters. and in fact, they not. i recuse myself, not because of any asserted wrongdoings, orany because of any asserted wrongdoings, or any believe i may have been involved in any wrongdoing in the campaign, but because a department ofjustice regulation which i felt required it. that regulation states in effect department employees should not participate in any investigations of a campaign, if they serve as a campaign adviser. the scope of my recusal, however, does not and cannot interfere with my ability to oversee the department ofjustice, including the fbi. which has an $8 billion budget, and 35,000 employees. i presented to the
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president is my concerns, and those of deputy attorney general rod rosenstein about the leadership issues at the fbi, in my letter recommending the removal of mr comey, as well as the deputy general's memorandum on that issue. which had been released publicly by the white house. those represent a clear statement of my views. deputy attorney general rosenstein's points he made in his memorandum, i made my recommendation. it is absurd frankly to suggest a recusal from a specific investigation would render the attorney general to manage the leadership of the various department ofjustice law leadership of the various department of justice law enforcement components, back in that thousands of investigations. finally, during his testimony, mr comey discussed a conversation he and i had about the
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meeting mr comey had with the president. i am meeting mr comey had with the president. lam happy meeting mr comey had with the president. i am happy to share with the committee my recollection of that conversation i had with mr comey. following a routine morning threat briefing, mr comey spoke to me and my chief of staff, while he did not provide me with any of the substance of his conversation with the president, apparently the day before, mr comey express concern about proper communications protocol with the white house. and with the president. i responded. he did not re call president. i responded. he did not recall this. i responded to his comment by agreeing the fbi and the department of justice needed comment by agreeing the fbi and the department ofjustice needed to be careful to follow department policies regarding appropriate contacts with the white house. mr comey had served in the department for the better part of two decades. i was confident he understood and would abide by the well—established
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rules limiting communications with the white house, especially about ongoing investigations. that is what is so important to control. my comments encouraged him to dojust that, and he in fact did that. department of justice rules that, and he in fact did that. department ofjustice rules between proper communications between the department and the white house had beenin department and the white house had been in place for years. mr comey knew them well. i thought he would comply with them. incorrectly. i will finish with this. i recuse myself from any investigation into the campaign for president, but i did not recuse myself from defending my honour against scurrilous false allegations. at all times through the course of the campaign, the confirmation process and since becoming a teacher, i have endeared myself to the highest standards. i
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have earned a reputation for that. at home and in this body. over decades of performance. the people of this country expect an honest and transparent government, and that is what we are giving them. this president was to focus on the people of this country to insure they are treated fairly, and kept safe. the trump agenda is to improve the lives of the american people. i know some have different ways of achieving this. and different agendas. but thatis this. and different agendas. but that is his agenda, and it is one i share. importantly as attorney general i have a responsibility to e nforce general i have a responsibility to enforce the laws of this nation to protect this country from its enemies. and to ensure a fair administration ofjustice. enemies. and to ensure a fair administration of justice. i enemies. and to ensure a fair administration ofjustice. i intend to work every day, with our fine team, and superb professionals in the department of justice, team, and superb professionals in the department ofjustice, to advance the important work we have to do. these false attacks, the
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innuendos, the leaks, you can be sure innuendos, the leaks, you can be sure will not intimidate me, in fact these events have only strengthened my resolve to fulfil my duty. my duty to reduce crime, to support our federal state and local law enforcement officers, working on our streets every day. just last week, it was reported overdose deaths in this country are rising faster than ever recorded. last year 52,000, the new york timesjust ever recorded. last year 52,000, the new york times just estimated next year will be 62,000 overdose deaths. the murder rate is up over 10%. the largest increase since 1968. largest increase since1968. together we are telling the gangs, the cartels, the fraudsters and the terrorists, we are coming after you. of our citizens, no matter who they
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are, they live, has the right to be safe in their homes and communities. i will not be deterred, i will not allow this great department to be deterred from this vital issue. thank you, mr chairman. member warren. i had a great honour to appear before you today. i will do my best to answer your questions. mr sessions, thank you for that testimony. i would like to note for the members, the chairand vice—chair will be recognised for ten minutes, members for five minutes. i would like to remind members we are in open session. no references to pacify the committee sensitive materials should be use relative to questions. we have that i recognise myself at this time for ten minutes. you talked about the mayflower
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hotel, where the president gave his first foreign policy speech. it has been covered in the press the president was there, you were there, others was there. from your testimony, you said you don't remember whether the russian ambassador was there? is that correct? i do not remember that. but i understand he was there. i don't doubt he was. i believe that representation is correct. i re ce ntly representation is correct. i recently saw a video of him coming into the room. that you never remember having a conversation or meeting with the ambassador? remember having a conversation or meeting with the ambassador7m remember having a conversation or meeting with the ambassador? in that event was there ever a private room setting you were involved in? no, other than the reception area, shut—off from the main crowd, i
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guess. two, three dozen people. i don't doubt the president shook some hands. yes, he shook hands in the group. you mentioned there were staffed with you at the event. milage in the city ofjoy rector at the time —— my legislative director was with me in the reception area. and throughout the rest of the events. would you say you were there as united states senator, or a surrogate of the campaign?” united states senator, or a surrogate of the campaign? i came there as an interested person. very anxious to see how president trump would do in his first major foreign policy address. i believe he had only given one major speech before
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at the jewish aipac event. interesting time for me to observe his delivery and message he would make. that was my main purpose of being there. you reported two other meetings with the ambassador, one in july at the republican convention. one in september in the senate office. did you have any other interactions with government officials over the year in a campaign capacity? not asking you for the standpoint of yourself, but ina campaign for the standpoint of yourself, but in a campaign capacity? no, i have racked my brain to make sure i can answer any of those questions correctly, and i did not. iwould just for you, when asked about whether i had any meetings with russians, by the reporter in march,
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we immediately recall the conversation, the encounter i had at the convention and the meeting in my office. made of public. i never intended not to include that. i would have gladly reported the meeting, the encounter that may have incurred, and some say occurred at the mayflower, if i had remembered it, or it actually occurred, which i don't remember it did. general sessions, you formally recuse yourself from any investigation into the russian investigation, what are the russian investigation, what are the specific reasons you chose to recuse the specific reasons you chose to recuse yourself? the specific reason, mr chairman is a congressional federal code regulations put out by the department of justice, the
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department of justice, the department of justice rules. department of justice, the department ofjustice rules. it says this, i will read from it. unless authorised, no employee shall participate in a criminal investigation or prosecution, if he has a personal or political relationship with any person involved in the conduct of an investigation. goes on to say for political campaign, if you have a close identification with an elected official, or candidates, arising from service as a principal adviser, you should not participate in an investigation of that campaign. many have suggested that my recusal is because i felt i was a subject of the investigation myself. that i may
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have done something wrong. this is the reason i recuse myself. i felt i was required to under the rules of the department of justice, was required to under the rules of the department ofjustice, and as a leader of the department ofjustice, i should comply with the rules obviously. did your legal counsel know from day one you have two recuse know from day one you have two recuse yourself of this investigation because of the current statute? i do have a timeline of what occurred. i was sworn in on the 9th of february. on the tenth at my first meeting, to generally discuss the issue. the cfr was not discussed. we had several other meetings. it became clear to me over time five —— i qualified as a significant principal adviser to the campaign.
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it was the appropriate right thing. this could explain director comey's comments. that he knew there was a likelihood you were going to recuse herself as he was familiar with the same statute ? herself as he was familiar with the same statute? probably so. i'm sure the attorneys in the department of justice communicated with him. mr chairman, let me say this to you clearly. in effect, as a matter of fa ct, clearly. in effect, as a matter of fact, i recuse myself that day. i never received any information about the campaign. i thought there was a problem with me being able to serve as attorney general over this issue. i felt i would possibly have two recuse i felt i would possibly have two recuse myself, and i took the position correctly, i believe, not to involve myself in the campaign in any way. and i did not. you made a reference to your chief of staff, sending out an e—mail immediately
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notifying you of your decision to recuse. notifying you of your decision to recuse. would you ask your chief of staff to make that e—mail available. we will be pleased to do so, i think i have it with me now. have you had any directions with the special counsel robert muller since his appointment? i have not. director comey indicated he did not know when i recuse myself or did not receive notice, one of those e—mails went to him by name. that happens in our offices. i am him by name. that happens in our offices. lam not him by name. that happens in our offices. i am not accusing him by name. that happens in our offices. lam not accusing him him by name. that happens in our offices. i am not accusing him of any wrongdoing. in fact it was sent to him in his name. general sessions, mr comey testified at length about his interactions with the president, in some cases highlighting your presence at the meetings. you addressed the meeting where all were asked to leave except for director comey, and he had a
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private meeting with the president. you said he did inform you of how uncomfortable that was. and your recommendation was was that the fbi and the department ofjustice needed to follow the rules, limiting further correspondence. did director comey ever express additional discomfort with conversations that the president might have had with him? he had two additional meetings, and six phone calls? that is correct. there is nothing wrong with the president having a communication with the fbi director. what is problematic for any department of justice employee is to talk to any cabinet person or white house official said ongoing investigations that are not properly cleared through the top levels of the department of justice. so
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through the top levels of the department ofjustice. so it was a regulation i think is healthy, and i thought we needed to restore discipline within our department. to add here tojust discipline within our department. to add here to just those discipline within our department. to add here tojust those kind of rules. leaking rules, some of the other things which i think i'm bit lax, they need to be restored. you could not have a conversation with the present about the investigation, because you are never brief? that is correct. i do know in regard to the private meeting, there are as many as six such meetings. a couple with president trump, coupled with president trump, coupled with president obama. it is not improper. i would not be justified for a department official to share information about an ongoing investigation without prior review and clearance from above. just one
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la st and clearance from above. just one last question, you were the chair of the foreign policy team for the trump campaign. to the best of your knowledge, did that team ever meet? and we met a couple of times, maybe. some of the people did. we never function frankly, mr chairman, as a coherent team. where there are any members of the team you never met? yes. thank you general sessions. as i mentioned in my opening statement, we appreciate your appearances. we see that as a first step. the lie to get your commitment to make yourself available at the committee needs in the months and weeks ahead? senator warren i will commit to appear before this committee and other committees as appropriate. i don't think it is good policy to
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continually bring cabinet members before the attorney general before multiple committees going over the same things. i know other members have raised those issues. let me ask you about that committee. can they get your commitment, since there will be questions about some of the meetings and whether they took place, whether we could get access to documents, memoranda, your date but? mr chairman: we will be glad to provide appropriate responses to your questions and review them carefully. yesterday, a friend of the president was reported to suggest that president trump was considering removing director miller as special counsel. do you have confidence in director muller's ability to conduct his investigation fairly and impartially? firstly i do know that these reports, and have no basis. i'm asking dart i had known
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mr muller, he served 12 years as fbi director. i knew him before that. i have confidence in mr muller. i'm not going to discuss any hypotheticals, and what may be a factual situation in the future. that i'm not aware rough today. because i know nothing about the investigation. i have a series of questions? de note if the president has confidence in mr muller?|j questions? de note if the president has confidence in mr muller? i have nayidea, has confidence in mr muller? i have nay idea, i have not talked to him about it. we commit in this committee not to take any personal actions that may result in director muller's dismissal? i think i can say that confidence because i recuse from the investigation. the way it works, senator warner, the acting attorney general qatar i just works, senator warner, the acting attorney general qatar ijust wanted to get you on the record, i am aware of how it works. with your refusal,
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you would not take any actions to try and have a special investigator re m oves ? try and have a special investigator removes? i would not think that would be appropriate for me today. to your knowledge, have any department ofjustice officials been involved in, stations about the possibility of presidential pardons about any of the interest of individuals involved? mr chairman i am not able to comment on conversations with high officials inside the white house. that would bea inside the white house. that would be a violation of the communications role. so i can understand, the basis for that unwillingness to answer based on executive privilege?m for that unwillingness to answer based on executive privilege? it is a long—standing policy, the department of justice not a long—standing policy, the department ofjustice not to comment on conversations that the attorney general has had with the president of the united states for
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confidential reasons. that really are founded in the equal branch powers in the constitution of the united states. just so i am understanding. are you claiming executive privilege? understanding. are you claiming executive privilege ?|j understanding. are you claiming executive privilege? i am not claiming executive privilege. that is the president's power. claiming executive privilege. that is the president's powerlj claiming executive privilege. that is the president's power. i have no power. what about conversations with the department ofjustice or white house officials about potential pardons? not the president? without in any way suggesting i have had any conversations concerning pardons, totally a pa rt conversations concerning pardons, totally apart from that, there are privileges of communication within the department of justice, privileges of communication within the department ofjustice, that we share, all of us do. we have a right to have a full and robust debate within the department ofjustice. we encourage people to speak up and argue cases on different sides. those arguments, historically, we see those arguments, historically, we see they should not be repealed.”
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would hope that since you have recuse yourself from this investigation, the present and others would pardon someone during the midst of investigation while i we re the midst of investigation while i were investigation and director muller's investigation happening, that would be problematic. one of the comments you made in your testimony, that you reached this conclusion about the performance of director comey‘s ability to lead the fbi. you agreed with deputy attorney general rose and steam's memo. the fa ct general rose and steam's memo. the fact you have worked with director comey for some time, did you ever have a conversation as a superior of director comey, about his failure to perform, some of the accusations he was not running the fbi in a good way? somehow the fbi was in turmoil? did you have any conversations about this? i did not. you were his
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superior. fairly harsh things said about director comey, you never thought it was appropriate to raise those concerns before he was terminated by the president?” those concerns before he was terminated by the president? i did not do so. a memorandum was prepared by the deputy attorney general, who evaluated his performance, noted some serious problems with it. you agreed with those?” some serious problems with it. you agreed with those? i agreed with those. senator warner, we talked about it even before i was confirmed and he was confirmed. something we both agreed to. a fresh start at the fbi was probably the best thing. both agreed to. a fresh start at the fbi was probably the best thingfi seems dart i could understand if you talked about that before you came on. you had a chance for a fresh start. no fresh start. suddenly in the midst of the investigation, the timing seems peculiar this at least
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to me, it was out of the blue, the president firing the fbi director. if there are all these problems in disarray, and lack of accord, all the things the acting director of the things the acting director of the fbi denied was the case. i would have thought somebody wouldn't have that conversation with director comey. let's go to the april 27 meeting. the chairman brought it up, by the time april 27 came around, you had already been named as the chair, as trump's national security adviser. yes, sir. joel —— jarrod kushner was there? -- jarrod kushner was there? yes, he was forced to the best year memory you had no conversations with the
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ambassador at that? identical. certainly i can assure you nothing improper ifi certainly i can assure you nothing improper if i had the conversation. it is conceivable that occurred. i just don't remember it. nothing in your notes and memories, so when you have a chance, and i appreciate correcting the record, with the other two senators, this one did not p0p other two senators, this one did not pop into your memory. caution that you had to report this session?” guess i could say i possibly had a meeting. i still do not recall it. i did not in any way fail to record something in my testimony or my subsequent letter. intentionally false. i understand. you correct the record. clearly by the time you have the chance to correct the record, i would have thought you would have
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known the ambassador was at that april 27 session. receiving quite a bit of press notoriety. and again, echoing what the chairman has said, again for the record. there was no other meeting with any other officials on the russian government during the campaign season? not to my recollection. with regards to the two encounters, one at the mayflower hotel, that you referred to, i came there not knowing he was going to be there. idid there not knowing he was going to be there. i did not have any recollection of him being there, did not have any communications with him before, or after the event. likewise, at the convention, i went after convention grounds to a couege after convention grounds to a college campus for an event. at the mayflower event. let me just follow this up. i did not know he would be
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in the audience. at the mayflower there was the vip reception. then people went to the speech. that is my recollection. you are part of the vip reception. yes, sir. general sessions, one of the troubling things that i need to sort through, mr comey‘s testimony last week was that he felt uncomfortable when the president asked everybody else to leave the room, leaving the impression that you lingered, that you felt uncomfortable about it as well. i don't want you to say that is correct that is not impression. if the meeting took place, director comey had some level of uncomfortableness, you never asked director comey what to place on the meeting? i would just say it this
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way. we were there, i was standing there. without revealing any conversation that took place, what i do recall, i did depart. i believe everybody else did depart. director comey was sitting in front of the president's desk, they were talking. that is what i do remember. i believe it was the next day he said something expressing concern about being left alone with the president. that in itself is not problematic. he did not tell me at that time any details about anything that was said that was improper. i affirmed his concern, that we should be following the proper guidelines of the department of justice, and the proper guidelines of the department ofjustice, and basically backing him up in his concerns. and that he should not carry out any conversation with the president or anybody else about an investigation ina way anybody else about an investigation in a way that was not proper. i felt, he so long in the department,
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former deputy attorney general, as i recall, new those policies a good deal better than i did. it did appear that comey bought the conversation was improper. he was concerned about it. what he said to be about his concern is consistent with my recollection. attorney general sessions, it's good to hear you talk about how important this russian interference in our campaign is. i don't think there's any american that would disagree that we need to drill down, know what happened, and do what we can to stop it again. that's what this committee was charged to do. as you probably know, on february the 14th new york times published an alleging that there were constant communications
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between the trump campaign and the russians, and collusion regarding the election. do you recall that article when it came out? not exactly. generally? mr comey told us he had a specific recollection. in fa ct, he had a specific recollection. in fact, he chased it down to the intelligence community and wasn't able to find evidence to that effect. then he saw the republicans tell them that this was false, that there were no such facts that corroborated with the new york times report. nonetheless, after this committee took that one, and it's one of the things we spent substantially more time on bundy russian active measures, we've been through thousands of pages of information. we are no different than where we were when this whole thing started. there's been no
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reports that i know of of any factual information, are you aware of any such information about collusion? did that arise from the dossier? i believe that's the report that senator franken hit me with when i was testifying. i think it's been substantially discredited but you will know more than i. i put as the painted in the continuing communications with russia as surrogates is absolutely. blue mr sessions, there has been talk about conversations with you had with the russians. conversations with offices of other governments or ambassadors or what have you are everyday occurrences here for most of us, is
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that a occurrences here for most of us, is thata fair occurrences here for most of us, is that a fair statement? i think it is, yes. if you run into one in a grocery store your have a conversation? that could very well happen, nothing improper. on the other hand, collusion with the russians or any other government for that matter when it comes to our elections would certainly be improperand elections would certainly be improper and illegal, would that be a fairstatement? improper and illegal, would that be a fair statement? absolutely. are you willing to sit here and tell the american people that you participated in no conversations of any kind when there was collusion between the trump campaign and any other foreign government?” between the trump campaign and any other foreign government? i can say that absolutely and have no hesitation to do so. you participated as you've described in the trump campaign, and as such you travelled with the campaign i gather? i did. you spoke for the campaign? on a number of occasions.
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i wasn't continually on the truck. did you hear even a whisper or suggestion, or anyone making reference within that campaign that somehow the russians were involved in that campaign? i did not. what would you have done if you had?” would you have done if you had?” would have been shocked and known it was improper. and headed for the exit? maybe. this is a serious matter. what you're talking about, hacking into a private person or dnc computer and obtaining information and spreading that out, that's not right. i believe it's likely that laws were violated if that occurred so it's an improper things. mr sessions, has any person from the white house or the administration including the president either directed you or asked you to do any unlawful or illegal act since you've
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been attorney general of the united states? no. thank you. welcome, attorney general. thank you. on may the 19th, mr rosenstein ina you. on may the 19th, mr rosenstein in a statement to the house of representatives essentially told them that he learned on may the 8th that president trump intended to remove director comey. when you wrote your letter on may the 9th, did you know that the president had already decided to fire director comey? senator feinstein, iwould say that i believe it's been made public that the president asked us our opinion, it was given and he asked us to put that in writing. i
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don't know how much more he said about it than that, but i believe he has talked about it and i would let his words speak for themselves. well, on may 11, an nbc nightly news two days later, the president stated he was going to fire home the regardless of the recommendation. so i'm puzzled about the recommendation, because the decision had been made, so what was the need for you to write a recommendation? well, we were asked our opinion and when we expressed it which was consistent with the memorandum and the letter we wrote, i felt comfortable and i guess the deputy attorney general did too in providing that information in writing. do you concur with the
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president that he was going to fire mr comey regardless of recommendation, because the problem was that russian investigation?” guess i'll have to let his words speak for himself. i'm not sure what was in his mind explicitly when we talked with him. did you ever discuss director comey‘s fbi handling of the russian investigations with the president or anyone else? senator feinstein, that would call for a communication between the attorney general and the president and i'm not able to on that. you are not able to answer the question here whether you ever discuss that with him? that's correct. and how do you view that since you discussed his termination, why wouldn't you discuss the reasons? those were put in writing
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and sent to the president, and he made those public, so he made that public... say you had no verbal conversation with him about the firing of mr comey? i'm not able to discuss or confirm or deny the nature of private conversations that i may have had with the president on this subject or others. i know that this subject or others. i know that this will be discussed but that's the rules, it has been long adhered to by the department ofjustice, as you know, senator finds time. but we heard mr coates and we heard admiral rogers say essentially the same thing. when it was easyjust to say if the answer was no, no. it would have been easier to say if it was yes, yes, but both would have been improper. ok. so, how exactly were
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you involved in the termination of director comey? because i am looking at your letter dated may the 9th, and he's saved the director of the fbi must be someone who follows faithfully the rules and principles, who sets the right example for law enforcement officials, therefore i must recommend that you remove director comey and identify an experienced and qualified individual to lead the great men and women of the fbi. do you really believe that this had to do with director comey‘s performance with the men and women of the fbi? there was a clear view of the fbi? there was a clear view of mine and of deputy attorney
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rosenstein which i adopted and sent forward to the president, that we had problems there and it was my bestjudgment had problems there and it was my best judgment that a fresh start at the fbi was the appropriate thing to do. when i said that to the president, it's something i adhered to, deputy rosenstein's letter dealt with the number of things. when mr comey declined the clinton prosecution, that was really a usurp of the authority of the federal prosecutors in the department of justice. it was a stunning development. the fbi is the investigative team, they don't decide prosecution policies. so that was a thunderous thing. he also commented at some length on the
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declination of the clinton prosecution, which you should not do. the policies have been historic, if you decline you decline and you don't talk about it. there are other things that had happened that indicated to me a lack of discipline, and it caused controversy on both sides. i had come to the conclusion that a fresh start was appropriate and didn't mind putting that in writing. mine time is up, thank you. thank you for being here attorney general. i want to go back to february the 14th. what i've heard so far is that there was a meeting in the oval office, at some point it concluded. everyone got up to leave, the president asked director comey to stay behind, correct? that's a communication in the white house that i wouldn't comment on. you remember seeing him
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stay behind? yes. his testimony was that he lingered and his view of it was that he lingered because you knew he needed to stay. do you remember feeling like he needed to stay? i do recall being one of the la st stay? i do recall being one of the last ones to leave. did you decide to be one of the last ones to leave? i don't know how that occurred. we had finished a counterterrorism briefing on a number of people were there and they were filtering out. i eventually left and i do recall, i think i was one of the last two or three to leave. would it be fair to say you felt you needed to stay because it involved the fbi director? i don't know howl because it involved the fbi director? i don't know how i would characterise that, senator rubio. i left, it didn't seem to me to be a major problem. i knew that director comey could handle himself well. say
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you saw him after that? he said he we nt you saw him after that? he said he went up to you and said, never leave me alone with the president again, it's not appropriate. he said, you shrugged as if to say what am i supposed to do about it.” shrugged as if to say what am i supposed to do about it. i think i described it more completely, correctly. he raised that issue with me. i believe the next day. ithink that was correct. and he expressed concern to me about that private conversation, and i agreed with him essentially that there are rules on private conversations with the president. but there's not a prohibition on a private discussion with the president, as i believe he is acknowledged himself with president obama and president trump. ididn't president obama and president trump. i didn't feel president obama and president trump. ididn't feel like... president obama and president trump. i didn't feel like... he gave me no detail about what it was he was
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concerned about. i didn't say i wouldn't be able to respond if he called me. he certainly knew that with regard that he could call his direct supervisor, which in the department of justice is direct supervisor, which in the department ofjustice is the direct supervisor to the fbi is the deputy attorney general. he could have complained to the deputy or to me if he felt pressured but i had no doubt he felt pressured but i had no doubt he would not yield to any pressure. do you know if the president records conversations in the oval office or anywhere else ? conversations in the oval office or anywhere else? i do not. if any president were to record conversations in their official duties in the white house, would there be an obligation to preserve those records? i don't know, probably. 's i want to go to the campaign fora probably. 's i want to go to the campaign for a moment. probably. 's i want to go to the campaign fora moment. as i'm probably. 's i want to go to the campaign for a moment. as i'm sure you're aware it's been widely reported that russian intelligence
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agencies often pose is not simply as an official but businessmen, journalist and the like. at any point during the campaign did you have an interaction with anyone but in hindsight he would say there were trying to influence me or gain insight, that in hindsight you look at and wonder? i did believe that in my conversations... just in general. i met my conversations... just in general. imeta my conversations... just in general. i met a lot of people, a lot of foreign officials, who wanted to argue their case for their country and to point out things that they thought were important. that's a normal thing i guess we talk about. as faras normal thing i guess we talk about. as far as someone who wasn't an official from another country, a businessman or anyone who struck you as someone who was trying to find out what the campaign was up to, you don't remember any interaction that in hindsight appears suspicious?”
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have to wrack my brain but i don't re call have to wrack my brain but i don't recall it now. you on the foreign policy team, the republican platform was changed to not provide defensive weapons to ukraine, where you involved in that decision, do you know who was involved in making that change? i wasn't active in the platform committee, did not participate in that and don't think i had participate in that and don't think ihad any participate in that and don't think i had any direct involvement. do you know who did, do you have any recollection? i never watched the debate, if it occurred on the platform committee, i think it did. i don't recall, i'd have to think about that. mr chairman, i want to thank you for holding this hearing in the open in full view of the american people where it belongs. i believe the american people have had it with stonewalling. americans don't want to hear that answers to
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releva nt don't want to hear that answers to relevant questions are privileged and off—limits, or that they can't be provided in public, or that it would be "inappropriate for witnesses to tell us what they know". we are talking about an attack on our democratic institutions, and stonewalling of any kind is unacceptable. general sessions has acknowledged that there is no legal basis for this stonewalling. last thursday i asked former director comey about the fbi's interactions with you, general sessions, prior to your stepping aside from the russian investigation. mr comey said your continued engagement with the russian investigation was "problematic", and he could not discuss it in public. mr comey also said that fbi personnel had been calling for you to step aside from
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the investigation at least two weeks before you finally did so. in your prepared statement, you stated you received only "limited information necessary to inform your recusal decision". but given director comey‘s statement, we need to know what that was. where you are aware of any concerns that the fbi or elsewhere in government about your contacts with the russians or any other matters relevant to whether you should step aside from the russian investigation? senator wyden, i russian investigation? senator wyden, lam russian investigation? senator wyden, i am not stonewalling. russian investigation? senator wyden, lam not stonewalling. i russian investigation? senator wyden, i am not stonewalling. i am following the historic policies of the department of justice. following the historic policies of the department ofjustice. you don't walk into any hearing or committee meeting and reveal confidential communications with the president of the united states who is entitled to receive confidential communications
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in your best judgment about a host of issues. and have to be accused of stonewalling for not answering them. i would push back on that. secondly, mr comey, perhaps he didn't know but i've accused myself the first day i got into the office because i never access files —— recused myself. i never asked for any documentation. the documentation is what little i received was mostly already in the media and was presented by the senior ethics professional responsibility attorney in the department. i made an honest and proper decision to recuse myself, as i told senator finds ——. respectfully, you're not answering
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the question. the question is, mr comey said there were matters with respect to the recusal that will problematic and he couldn't talk about them. what are they? why don't you tell me? there are none, senator wyden, there are none. i can tell you that for absolute certainty. this is a secret innuendo being leaked about me and i don't appreciate it, and i tried to give my best and truthful answers to any committee i've appeared before. people are suggesting through innuendo that i have not been honest about matters, and i've tried to be honest. my time is short, you've made your point that you think mr comey is engaging in innuendo, we'll keep digging... senator wyden, he didn't say that. i asked you what was problematic about it. some of
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that leaked out of the committee that leaked out of the committee that he said in closed sessions.” asked former fbi director whether your role in firing him violated your role in firing him violated your recusal, given that president trump said he fired mr comey because of the russian investigation. director comey said this was a reasonable question. i want to ask you point—blank, why did you sign the letter recommending the firing of director comey when it violated your recusal? it did not violate my recusal. it did not violate my recusal. it did not violate my recusal. that would be the answer to that. the letter i signed represented my views that had been formulated for some time. that answer in my view doesn't pass the smell test. the president we did repeatedly about his anger at
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investigations into his associates and russia, the day before you wrote your letter he tweeted the collusion story was a hoax and asked when will this taxpayer funded sharad ends? i don't think your answer passes the smell test. —— charade. don't think your answer passes the smell test. -- charade. deputy rosenstein wrote saying that it represented my views of the situation. attorney general sessions, i want to clarify who did what with regard to the firing of mr comey. first of all, when did you have your first conversation with
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rod rosenstein about mr comey? we talked about it before either one of us were talked about it before either one of us were confirmed. it was a topic of conversation among people who had served in the department a long time. they knew what had happened was pretty dramatically unusual. many people felt it was wrong. it was in that context that we discussed it and we both found that we shared a common view that a fresh start would be appropriate. this was based on mr comey‘s handling of the investigation involving hillary clinton in which you said that he usurped the authority of prosecutors at the department ofjustice? yes, that was part of it. the commenting on the investigation in ways that go beyond the proper policies. we need to restore the classic discipline in
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the department. my team, we've discussed this, there's been too much leaking and talking publicly about investigations. in the long run, the department's historic rule that you remain mum about ongoing investigations is the better policy. subsequently, the president asked for you to put your views in writing, you've testified today. i believe that you were right to recuse yourself from the ongoing russian investigation. on may the 9th you wrote to the president recommending that mr comey be dismissed. obviously, this went back many months to the earlier conversations. but you had had with mr rosenstein. my question is, why do you believe that your recommendation to fire director
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comey wasn't inconsistent with your march the 2nd recusal? the recusal involved one case in the department ofjustice. and in the fbi. they conduct thousands of investigations. i'm the attorney general of the united states, it's my responsibility to ourjudiciary committee and other committees, to ensure that that department is run properly. i have to make difficult decisions, and i don't believe that it isa decisions, and i don't believe that it is a sound position to say that if you recuse for a single case involving any one of the great agencies like the ea, the us marshals, you can't make a decision about the leadership in that agency. now, if you had knowing that the
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president subsequently was going to go on tv and in an interview with leicester halt of nbc would say this russian thing was the reason for his decision to dismiss the fbi director, would you have felt uncomfortable about the timing of the decision? —— lester holt.” uncomfortable about the timing of the decision? -- lester holt. i do think it's appropriate to deal with those kind of hypotheticals. i have to deal in actual issues and i would respectfully not comment on that. let me ask you this. in retrospect, do you believe that it would have been better for you to have stayed out of the decision to fire director comey? i think it's my responsibility. i mean, iwas appointed to be attorney general
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supervising all the federal agencies is my responsibility. trying to get the very best people in those agencies at the top of them is my responsibility, and i think i had a duty to do so. now, director comey testified that he wasn't comfortable telling you about his one—on—one conversation with the president on february the 14th. because he believed that he would shortly recuse yourself from the russian investigation, which you did. yet, director comey testified that he told no one else at the department outside of the senior leadership tea m outside of the senior leadership team at the fbi. do you believe that the director had an obligation to bring the information about the president, saying that he hoped he could let michael flynn go to someone else at the department of justice? there are a lot of lawyers
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at the department ofjustice, some 10,000. i think the appropriate thing would have been for director comey to talk with the acting deputy attorney general, who is his direct supervisor. they had 33 years in the department of justice and supervisor. they had 33 years in the department ofjustice and even then was still serving for six years and continues to serve as attorney general appointed by president obama. he'sa general appointed by president obama. he's a man of great integrity and everybody knows it, a man of decency and judgment. i think he should have raised them to the deputy attorney general who would have been the appropriate person in any case. but if he had any concern that i might be recusing myself that would be another reason to share it with him. it attorney general sessions, as the
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president ever expressed his frustration over your decision to recuse yourself? senator, i am not able to share with this committee private communications. you are invoking executive privilege.” private communications. you are invoking executive privilege. i am not able to invoke executive privilege, that is the president's prerogative. my understanding is you took an oath, raise your right hand, you said you would solemnly swear to tell the truth, nothing but the truth, and now you are not answering questions, impeding the investigation. my understanding of the legal standard, is that you either answer the question, or say you cannot. you can say you can invoke executive privilege. can you
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tell me what are these long—standing doj rules, protecting this? i am protecting the president's constitutional right by not giving it away. i am answering the question truthfully. it is a long—standing policy of the department of justice to long—standing policy of the department ofjustice to make sure the president has full opportunity to decide these issues. can you share those policies? are they written down at the department of justice? i believe they are. the appropriate way of not answering committee questions? it would be inappropriate for me to reveal private conversations with the president, when he has had not had
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the opportunity to review the questions and make a decision on whether or not to approve such an answer. there are also other privileges that could be invoked. one of those deals, with the investigation of the special counsel. we're not asking questions about that investigation. if i wa nted about that investigation. if i wanted to ask questions about that investigation i would ask those of rod rosenstein. iam investigation i would ask those of rod rosenstein. i am asking about your personal knowledge, from this committee, which as a constitutional obligation to get to the bottom of this. there are two investigations. a special counsel investigation, and a congressional investigation. you are obstructing the congressional investigation by not answering the questions. i think your silence, like the silence of director coats, admiral rogers, it speaks volumes.”
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would say i have consulted with senior career attorneys, and this is consistent with my duties. the senator asked you a question about the appropriateness, if you had known there had been anything u ntowa rd, known there had been anything untoward, with regard to russia in the campaign, would you have headed for the exit? your response was maybe. why was it not a simple yes. there was an improper or illegal relationship, if there was such a thing, to influence the campaign, i absolutely would have departed.” think that is a good answer. i'm not sure what was not the answer in the place. ifind it strange sure what was not the answer in the place. i find it strange that neither you nor the deputy attorney general rod rosenstein brought up performance issues with director comey. vividly director mccabe has
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repeated any accusation of performance issues. this is troubling, it appears the president decided to fire director comey because he was pursuing a rush investigation, and asked you to come up investigation, and asked you to come up with an excuse. when your assessment of director comey did not hold up to public scrutiny, the president admitted he had fired director comey because he was pursuing the rush investigation. you have claimed you did not break refusal when participating in director comey‘s firing, but it appears his firing was directly related to russia, not departmental mismanagement. how do you square those two things? you have added a lot into that question. let me say first, within a week or so, i believe made a third. director comey testified that he believed the handling of the clinton declination
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was a proper and appropriate, and he would do it again. i know that was of great concern to both of us. that represented something which i believe most professionals in the department of justice would believe most professionals in the department ofjustice would totally agree that the fbi, the investigative agency does not decide whether to prosecute criminal cases. a breathtaking use of the responsibility of the attorney general. that is how we felt, additional concern that we had hitting the fbi. someone who boldly asserted the right to continue to make such decisions was one of the things we discussed. it was in the memorandum, i believe. it was also a factor for us. before i recognised
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senator warner, i would like to show the record that last night admiral rogers spent almost two alves in closed session with almost the full committee. —— almost to hours. reaffirming the commitment he made in the hearing that he would answer the question. he thoroughly answered, and all members were given answered, and all members were given an opportunity to answer questions. i want the record to show that. thank you, chairman. attorney general, good to see you here, and there are other places you would rather be. you always look a public service something you did together, good to know that your family continues to be proud, supportive of what you do. thank you, i am blessed indeed. i agree with that. let me
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get a couple of things clear in your mind. on paper27, 2016, the mayflower hotel speech that the presidential candidate gave on foreign policy, you did not have a room at that event, where you have private meetings? no, i did not. as i understand it you went to reception attended by how many people? i think two, to three dozen. you heard a speech, may have seen people on your way out? correct. when you said you possibly have a meeting with mr kislyak, did you mean you possibly met him?” meeting with mr kislyak, did you mean you possibly met him? i did not have any formal meeting with him, i am confident with that. i may have had an encounter during the reception. that is anything i can say with certainty i did not. that
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is what i thought you were saying. sometimes when i hear meeting, that may mean more than that. you may have met him at the reception. could you have met other ambassadors?” rememberone in you have met other ambassadors?” remember one in particular, we have a conversation with, whose country had an investment in alabama. we talked at length about that. otherwise i have no recollection of discussion with the russian ambassador. you may have seen him, but you have no room where you are having meetings with individuals to have discussions at the mayflower hotel that day? that is correct. when you talked to mr comey, after you had your meeting with the president. you think that is probably the next day, you did not stay afterwards after he had left
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the oval office? i understand his testimony may have suggested it happened right afterwards, but it was either the next morning, which i think it was, or the morning after that. we had three times a week a national security briefing with the fbi, which i undertake. it was after that that we have the conversation. what i am not quite clear on, did you respond when he expressed concern, or not? yes i did respond. he is incorrect, he indicated that he was not totally sure of the exact wording of the meeting.” he was not totally sure of the exact wording of the meeting. i do recall my chief of staff was with me, and we recall that i did affirm long—standing written policies about
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the department ofjustice, with long—standing rules of the white house. we have to follow those rules. in the long—running are much better if you do. they do not prohibit communications one—on—one by the fbi director with the president. if that conversation moves president. if that conversation moves into certain areas, it is the duty, the rules apply to the department of justice. the duty, the rules apply to the department ofjustice. the duty of the fbi to say mr president i cannot talk about that, that is the way that should work. apparently did. he says he did not improperly discuss matters with the present. when mr comey talked to you about that meeting, did he mention mike glennon? —— mike flynn? meeting, did he mention mike glennon? -- mike flynn? no committee did not mention anything or he was asked to do something improper. after the discussion with mr comey.
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he did not say he was uncomfortable. maybe it was what he testified to comment the correct wording. i am not sure exactly what he said. i don't dispute it. exactly what i remember him saying was that you did not react at all, kind of shrugging. you say you referred him to the normal way these meetings are supposed to be conducted. i took it asa supposed to be conducted. i took it as a concerned that he may ask something that was improper.” further to him his willingness to say further to him his willingness to say levenson— macro. further to him his willingness to say levenson—macro. or not go in and improper way. improper direction. finally, i'm assuming you would not talk about this. relating to the 8th of may meeting. my decision is final until it is carried out. my guess is, there are people who have said
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they are going to let somebody go, fire somebody who never did that. the fact the president said that on the 8th of may does not mean the information he got from you on the 9th of may was not necessary or impactful, and i'm sure you are not going to say hammy times the president said we ought to get rid of that person. i'm sure that happen. mr attorney general, thank you forjoining us today, i respect your willingness to be had. you testified a few minutes ago, i am not able to invoke executive privilege. as the executive invoke executive privilege in the case of your testimony today? he has not. what is the basis of your refusal to answer these questions? the president has not asserted it. you said you don't have the power to assert the power of executive privilege. what is the legal basis
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for the refusal to answer the questions? i am protecting the right of the present to assert it if he chooses. there may be other privileges which could apply in the circumstance. i do understand he can haveit circumstance. i do understand he can have it both ways. the president cannot assert it. only the president cannot assert it. only the president can asserted. i don't understand the legal basis for this refusal to answer? most cabinet officials, others you have questioned recently, officials before the committee protect the president's right to do so. if it comes to a point where the issue is clear, and there is a dispute about it at some point, the president will assert the privilege or not. or some other privilege can be asserted. at this point, i believe it is premature. you are
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asserting the privilege the president holed it would be premature to deny the president a full and intelligent choice about executive privilege. you testified a few minutes ago, we were asked for our opinion. who asked for your opinion? you testified we were asked for our opinion? my understanding, i believe i am correct, in saying the president has said so. he did not ask you directly? thought you were asking about the executive privilege? you said, you and mr rosenstein were asked for our opinion? it was appropriate for me to say that. the president asked for our opinion. you testified as did the content of the communication. i
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believe he has already revealed that. i believe i'm correct in saying that. that is why i indicated that when i asked that question. if he has not, and i'm an error, i would have constricted his constitutional right of privilege. you are being selected. not intentionally, only because i believe he made that public. in any of your discussions about the firing of your discussions about the firing ofjames comey, of your discussions about the firing of james comey, did of your discussions about the firing ofjames comey, did the question of the russian investigation come up?” cannot answer that, it was a communication by the president, or if such thing occurred, it would be a communication... de believe the russians interfered with the 2016 elections? it appears so, the intelligence committee seems united in that. senator king, i know nothing but what i have read in the
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papers. never received any details, briefings, how the hacking occurred, information alleged to have influenced. between the election there was a memorandum from the intelligence community on the 9th of october detailing what the russians was doing. before the inauguration, you never saw information about this rather dramatic attack on our country? no. you never attended a briefing? you might have been very critical of me, if i as an active pa rt of critical of me, if i as an active part of the campaign was seeking intelligence relating to something that might be relevant to the campaign. and that's ultimately campaign, i'm talking about what the russians did. you receive in a briefing on the russian active measures in connection to the 2016 elections. i don't believe i did. let's go to the letter in the 9th of may. based on my evaluation you
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said, and for the reasons expressed by the deputy, was that he written evaluation? my evaluation was an evaluation? my evaluation was an evaluation that had been going on for some months? a written evaluation? i did not make one, you could classify deputy attorney general rosenstein's memorandum as an evaluation. he was the direct supervisor of the fbi director. his evaluation was based 100% on the handling of the hillary clinton e—mails? handling of the hillary clinton e-mails? and a number of other matters. he did explicitly lay out the errors he thought had been made in that process by the director of the fbi. ithought in that process by the director of the fbi. i thought they were cogent and accurate. far more significant thana and accurate. far more significant than a lot of people have understood. attorney general
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sessions, good to see. you speak as a man eager to set the record straight. you have spoken very plainly from the beginning, your opening statement, all the way through this time. i'm amazed at the conversations, as if the attorney general has never said there were private conversations with a present. we don't need to discuss those. seems to be a short memory about some of the statements calderwood would not make to the house and the senate. and would not turn over documents requested. they had to go all the way through the court system, with the court finally saying no, the president cannot hold back documents. somehow, some accusation that you are not saying every conversation about everything, there is a long history of attorney generals standing beside the president, saying there are some conversations which are confidential. it does seem as well
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for every unnamed source, or story gets a hearing. i was in the hearing this morning with rod rosenstein, as we dealt with the appropriations requests. originally you were scheduled to be at that, rod rosenstein took your place in colour. he was peppered with questions about russia, during the conversation he was very clear he has never had conversations with you about that. and that you have never requested conversations about that. he was also peppered with questions of the latest rumour of the day, somehow the president is thinking about firing robert muller, and getting rid of him. he was clear, rosenstein said i am the only one who could do that. i am not contemplating that all would do that. no one has an idea of the latest unnamed source of the day, but somehow it is grabbing the attention. i want to bring a couple
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of things to you specifically. to define the word recuse. i come back to your e—mail you sent tojim comey and others on the 2nd of march. this is what you said in your e—mail. after careful consideration following meetings with korea department officials, over the course of the past few weeks the attorney general has decided to recuse himself from any existing or future investigations, or any matters related to the campaigns for president of the united states. the attorney general's recusal is not only in respect to such investigations, but also the department and media enquiries related to such investigations. is there something you have maintained from the 2nd of march and on? absolutely. i maintained it from the first day i became attorney general. we discuss those matters, and i felt until and if we discuss those matters, and i felt untiland ifi we discuss those matters, and i felt untiland if i made we discuss those matters, and i felt until and if i made a decision to
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not recuse myself, i should not involve myself in studying investigation or evaluating it. sol did not. ialso investigation or evaluating it. sol did not. i also note the memorandum from a chief of staff, these agencies and won person directed, it was sent to, james comey of the fbi. you should instruct members of your staff to not briefed the attorney general or any other official in the office of the attorney general about or otherwise involve the attorney general, or other officials in the office of the attorney general in any such matters described above. a proper and firm and crystal clear position: recusal made recusal. relaying the april 27 meeting, non—meeting, in the same room, the
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national interest was asked about this. he was the poster that event? they stated this in writing. the centre for national interest decided who to invite, and issued invitations. the trump campaign did not approve the invitation list. guests not approve the invitation list. g u ests we re not approve the invitation list. guests were democrat and republican, and some supporting other candidates. most were washington —based foreign policy experts and journalists. the russian ambassador kislyak and several other russian ambassadors. we regularly invite ambassadors. we regularly invite ambassadors to arrogance to facilitate dialogue. we seated or formica in the front row during the speech in deference to their diplomatic status. the trump campaign had nothing to do with seating arrangement. equal footing was extended to the foreign ambassadors. initial short reception before the speech. any conversations with mr trump where brief and could not be private. my recollection is
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the direction between mr trump and ambassador kislyak was limited to polite pleasantries ambassador kislyak was limited to polite pleasa ntries appropriate ambassador kislyak was limited to polite pleasantries appropriate on such occasions. we are not aware of any conversations between kislyak and senator sessions. in a small setting like this one it is unlikely they could have engaged in a meaningful private conversation without drawing attention from others present. you have any reason to disagree? i think that is a very fair description of the reception situation. i appreciate them having made that statement. thank you mr general, for being here. good to see you again. i want to follow up on what senator keenan asked, concerning, and you and i are the same concerning, and you and i are the same vintage, we never knew the russians, the government or military to be friend. with that being said,
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the seriousness of this russian hacking is very serious to me and concern. you are saying you have not been briefed on that. october nine, when it was known mr clapper and mr johnson in homeland security, made the public aware what was going on. on the 29th of december, president obama expel 35 russian diplomats. and he broadened the existing sanctions. did you have any discussions at all, have you had any discussions, or meetings or recommendations made to remove those sanctions? i don't recall any such meeting. during that time, not from the present being inaugurated, prior to that in the campaign, up and
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through the transition, where there ever any meetings where he showed concern or consideration, or inquisitive of what the russians we re inquisitive of what the russians were doing. i don't recall any such conversation. i'm not sure i understood your question. you are pa rt of understood your question. you are part of the national security team. if he had something about russia, with their capabilities, and our concern about what they could do to our election process, was there any conversation regarding that whatsoever? i don't recall it. i never has been asked of you, the things from your executive privilege of protecting the president, but also we had mr comey here. he could not answer a lot of things in a concession committee agreed to go into closed session. would you be able to go into closed session? would that change your answers or ability to speak frankly?” would that change your answers or ability to speak frankly? i am not
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sure ability to speak frankly? i am not sure the executive privilege is not waved by going into closed session. it may be that one in the concerns is, when you have an investigation ongoing as the special counsel does, it is often very problematic to have persons not cooperating with that counsel, and the conduct of the investigation. in may or may not be a factor in going into closed session. it would be very helpful for the committee. a lot of questions they want to ask. i know you would like to answer if possible. maybe we can check into that further. did you have any meetings, or other meetings with russian government officials not previously disclosed? i've racked my brain, i don't believe so.” previously disclosed? i've racked my brain, i don't believe so. i can assure you none of those meetings
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manipulating the campaign in the united states, or any shape or form, hacking, any such ideas. are there other meetings between russian government was an trump campaign associates not previously disclosed that you know of? i do not recall any. did any of the following individuals meet with russian officials in the campaign? you can go yes or no fuss for mane —— you can “ you can go —— you can go yes “ you can go yes or no. paul britain—macro. paul britain-macro. i don't think so. steve bannon? i don't recall. generalmike so. steve bannon? i don't recall. general mike flynn. i don't recall.
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steve miller. i don't recall.” don't recall any of those individuals having any meeting with the russians. carter page. i don't know. i would finally asked this question, because you have any innate knowledge. there may have been some published accounts of mr page talking with the russians, i'm not sure. as a former senator you bring a holistic perspective to this investigation. you have been on both sides. all in all it's better on that side! if you were sitting on this side, what question would you be asking?” would be asking whether or not... i would be asking whether or not... i would be asking questions related to whether or not there was an impact on this election, by a foreign power
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particularly the russians as the intelligence community has stated they believe they did. but i do think members of this government have offices to run, departments to manage, and the questions should be focused on that. is there a part of the story we are missing?” focused on that. is there a part of the story we are missing? i don't know, because i'm not involved in the campaign and had no information concerning it, i had no idea at what stage it is. you members of this committee know a lot more than i. general sessions, we are very much focused on russia's involvement. our hope is that we will complete the process and lay the facts out for the american people so they can make their own determinations as well. we are grateful for what you've done.”
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am on this side sol are grateful for what you've done.” am on this side so i can ask a very simple question. did donald trump or any of his associates in the campaign collude with russia in hacking those e—mails and releasing them to the public? we've now heard from six of the eight democrats on this committee and to my knowledge i do think a single one of them have asked that question. maybe that is because james comey said last week that three times donald trump assured him he wasn't under investigation. many maybe it's because multiple democrats have stated they have seen no evidence but is far of any such collusion. what do we think happened at the mayflower? are you familiar with what spies called tradecraft?.
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little bit. that things like codec communications, dead drops? that is pa rt of communications, dead drops? that is part of it. do you like spy fiction? yes,... do you like jason bohn or james bond movies? no. yes! laughter have you ever in any of these fantastical situations heard of a plotline so ridiculous that a sitting united states senator and ambassador colluded with hundreds of other people to pull off the greatest... thank you for saying that. it's like through the looking glass. i mean, what is this? i explain how in good faith i hadn't met with russians, because they were suggesting that i had been meeting
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continuously with russians. i said i didn't meet with them. and now i'm accused of some reception, plotting some accused of some reception, plotting some sort of influence campaign for the american election. it'sjust beyond my capabilities to understand, andl beyond my capabilities to understand, and i really appreciate the opportunity to be able to say publicly i didn't participate in that and i know nothing about it.” gather that's one reason why you wa nt gather that's one reason why you want to testified today in public. last week mr comey in characteristic dramatic fashion eluded ominously to what you called innuendo that there was some what you called innuendo that there was some kind of classified intelligence suggesting you might have colluded with russia, or otherwise acted improperly. you've addressed those allegations, do you understand why he made that allusion? actually, i do not. nobody has provided me with any information. thank you, i have a lot
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of questions. mr blunt asked you if you had spoken in response to mr comey's statement to you. you said that you did respond to mr comey. his testimony said that you didn't. do you know why mr comey would have said that you didn't respond to him on february the 14th or 15th?” said that you didn't respond to him on february the 14th or 15th? i do not. it was a little conversation, not. it was a little conversation, not very long, but there was a conversation and i did respond to him. perhaps not everything he asked but i did respond to him. i think in an appropriate way. do you know why mr comey mistrusted president trump from their first meeting onjanuary the sex? —— january six. from their first meeting onjanuary the sex? -- january six. i'm not able to speculate on that. let's
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turn to the potential crimes we never have happened. leaks of certain information. the contents of alleged transcripts of alleged conversations, the contents of president trump's phone calls with australian and mexican leaders, the content australian and mexican leaders, the co nte nt of australian and mexican leaders, the content of his meetings with the russian foreign minister, the leak of the manchester bombing suspects identity and crime scene photos, and last week within 20 minutes of this can “— last week within 20 minutes of this can —— this meeting, the basis of what mr comey's innuendo was. are these leaks serious threats to our national security and is the department ofjustice national security and is the department of justice taking national security and is the department ofjustice taking them with the appropriate degree of seriousness and ultimately going to prosecute them to the full extent of the law? thank you. we have had one successful case very recently in georgia, that person has been denied baili georgia, that person has been denied bail i believe and is being held in custody. some of these leaks, as you
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know, are extraordinarily damaging to the united states security. we have got to restore a regular ordered principle. we cannot have persons in our intelligence agencies or congress leaking sensitive matters on staff. i'm afraid this will result, is already resulting in investigations, and i fear that some people may find that they wish they hadn't leaked. for the record it was stated earlier that the republicans platform was weakened on the point of arms for ukraine, that is incorrect, the platform was actually strengthened. it was the democratic president who refused repeated requests president who refused repeated req u ests of president who refused repeated requests of this congress to supply those arms to ukraine. attorney general sessions, you have several
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times this afternoon prefaced your responses by saying to the best of your recollection. just on the first page of your pre—pages of written testimony you rate, nor do i recall, do not have recollection or do not remember it. forany do not have recollection or do not remember it. for any of your testimony today, did you refresh your memory with any written documents, be there your calendar, written correspondence, notes of any sort? i tend to refresh my recollection but so much of this is ina recollection but so much of this is in a wholesale campaign of an extraordinary nature, that you're moving so fast that you don't keep notes. i didn't keep notes of my conversation with the russian ambassador... and like to talk about what you did... i didn't keep notes on most of these things. would you provide this committee with the notes you did maintain? is appropriate i will supply the committee with documents. what do
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you mean when you say appropriate?” would have to consult with lawyers in the department who know the proper procedure before disclosing documents that are held within the department of justice. documents that are held within the department ofjustice. attorney general sessions... sir, i department ofjustice. attorney general sessions... sir, lam department ofjustice. attorney general sessions... sir, i am sure you prepared for this hearing today and most of the questions that have been presented to you were predictable. my question to you is did you then review with the lawyers of your department, if you as the top lawyer are unaware, what the law is regarding what you can share with us and what you cannot share with us, what is privileged and what is not privileged? we discussed the basic parameters of testimony. frankly we have not discussed documentary disclosure rules. will you make a commitment to this committee that you will share any written correspondence, be there your calendars, records, notes, e—mails or anything that has been reduced at any point in time in
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writing to this committee, where legally you actually have an obligation to do so?” legally you actually have an obligation to do so? i will commit to reviewing the rules of the department. as and when that issue is raised, to respond appropriately. did you have any communications with russian officials during the campaign that haven't been disclosed in public or to this committee?” defra call it, but i have to tell you, i cannot testify to what was said as we were standing at the republican convention before the podium where i spoke —— i do not re call podium where i spoke —— i do not recall it. my question was as it links to your knowledge, did you have any communication with any russian businessmen or any russian nationals? i don't believe i had any conversation with russian businessmen or russian nationals. a lot of people were at the
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convention... if i don't qualify it you will accuse me of lying, sol need to be correct as best i can. i'm not able to be rushed this fast, it makes me nervous. are you aware of any other communications with the trump campaign officials and associates that they had with russian officials or russian nationals? i don't recall that. and, are you aware... at this moment. are you aware of any communications with any trump officials or did you have any trump officials or did you have any communications with any officials about russia or russian interest in the united states before january the 20th? no. i may have had some january the 20th? no. i may have had some conversations, and i think i did, with the general strategic concept of the possibility of whether or not russia and the united states could get on a more
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harmonious relationship and move of the hostility. the soviet union did in fact collapse, it's a tragic strategic event that we are not able to get along better. before being sworn in as attorney general, how did you typically communicates with candidate or president—elect trump? would you repeat that? before you we re sworn would you repeat that? before you were sworn in as attorney general, how did you typically communicate with them candidate or president—elect trump? did you communicate in writing?” president—elect trump? did you communicate in writing? i did not make formal presentations. did you ever communicate with him in writing? identically so. you referred to a long—standing policy, what policy are you talking about? most cabinet people, those individuals declined to comment, because we are all about
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conversations with the president... a policy that goes beyond the attorney general. is that policy in writing somewhere?” attorney general. is that policy in writing somewhere? i think so. did you not consulted before you came before this committee? we talked about it. did you ask that it would be shown to you? the policy is based on the principle that the president... i'm asking when you knew you would be asked these questions and you would rely on that policy, did you not ask your staff to show you the policy that would be the basis for your refusing to answer the questions? senators will allow the chair to control the hearing. senator harris, let him answer. we talked about the real principle that at stake, which is one that i have some appreciation for having spent 15 years in the
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department of justice. that principle is that the constitution provides the head of the executive branch certain privileges, and that one of them is confidentiality of communications. it is improper for agents of any department in the executive branch to waive that privilege without a clear approval of the president. that's the situation we are in. yes or no... the answer is yes i consulted. attorney general sessions, former director comey said, i've long believed a president can fire and fbi directorfor any believed a president can fire and fbi director for any reason or no reason at all. do you agree with
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that? yes, and i think that was good for him to say, because i believe we are going to have a new and excellent fbi director, a person who is smart, disciplined, with integrity and proven judgment, is smart, disciplined, with integrity and provenjudgment, that would be good for the bureau. i think that statement probably was a valuable thing for director comey to say and i appreciate that he did. just to reiterate, the timeline of your recusal and the rose and steen memo and your letter to the president recommending the termination of director tony, you recused from the russian investigation on march the 2nd. the letter you wrote forwarding the memo to the president, as a basis for director comey's termination, was
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dated may the 9th, a couple of months after you had recused from the russian investigation, correct? i believe that's correct. isn't it really russian investigation didn't factor into the recommendation to fire director comey? that is correct. the memorandum written by the deputy attorney general, your letter to the president forwarding that recommendation, didn't mention russia at all. is that your recollection? that is correct. let's review what the basis for the recommendation of deputy attorney general rosenstein. he wrote, i cannot defend the director's handling of the conclusion of the investigation of secretary clinton's e—mails and! investigation of secretary clinton's e—mails and i didn't understand his refusal to accept the judgment that
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he was mistaken. he's talking about director comey of course. he went on to say, director comey was wrong to usurp the attorney general's authority onjuly usurp the attorney general's authority on july the 5th usurp the attorney general's authority onjuly the 5th 2016. you will recall that was the date of the press co nfe re nce will recall that was the date of the press conference he held. he went on to say the fbi director is never empowered to supplant federal prosecutors and assume command of the justice department. prosecutors and assume command of thejustice department. finally, he said, compounding the error, the director ignored another long—standing principle, that we do not hold press conferences to release derogatory information about the subject of a declined criminal investigation. in fact, there is written policy from the department ofjustice entitled written policy from the department of justice entitled election written policy from the department ofjustice entitled election nears sensitivities. you familiar with the prohibition of the justice
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department making announcements or taking other actions that might interfere with the normal elections? lam interfere with the normal elections? i am generally familiar with that. it's always been rules about it. let me read an excerpt from a memo from the attorney general. much the ninth 2012, entitled election year sensitivities. law enforcement officers and prosecutors may never select the timing of investigators steps and criminal charges for the purpose of affecting any election, orfor the purpose of affecting any election, or for the purpose of giving an advantage or disadvantage to any candidate or political party. such a purposeis candidate or political party. such a purpose is inconsistent with the department's mission and with the principles of federal prosecution. do you agree with that? essentially, yes. what essentially the deputy
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attorney general said is that former director comey violators department ofjustice directives when he held a press co nfe re nce ofjustice directives when he held a press conference on july the ofjustice directives when he held a press conference onjuly the 5th 2016. he announced that secretary clinton was extremely careless with classified e—mail and went on to release robert read information including his conclusion that she was extremely careless —— do robert re—information. he went on to say no reasonable prosecutor would prosecute her. but is not the role of the fbi director, is it? that is a job for the prosecutors at the department ofjustice. that is what was meant by rosenstein when he says that director comey usurped the role of the department ofjustice prosecutors. that is correct. former attorney general said he had assumed
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that attorney general lynch had urged mr koh me to make this announcement so she wouldn't have to do it. but it appears he did it without her approval totally and thatis without her approval totally and that is a pretty stunning thing. it isa that is a pretty stunning thing. it is a stunning thing and it violates fundamental powers. when he reaffirmed that the rightness, he believed of his decision and made the —— made a third, that was additional confirmation that the director's thinking wasn't clear. first a point, attorney general. senator heinrich and others raise theissue senator heinrich and others raise the issue of long—standing rules. if there are written rules would you provide them to the committee please? i will. thank you. the whole
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substance of your recommendation to the president to dismiss director comey was as unprofessional conduct with relation to the clinton administration, is that correct?” supported everything the deputy attorney general put in his memoranda. as good and important factors to use in determining whether or not he had conducted himself in a way that justified continuing in office. i think it pretty well speaks for itself and i believe most of it dealt with that. the discussion about his performance was a bipartisan discussion. it began during the election time. democrats were very unhappy about the way he conducted himself. and in retrospect, in looking at it, i think it was more egregious than i
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understood at the time. general, if i may. onjuly the 7th when mr comey made his first announcement about the case you were on fox news and you said director comey is a skill former prosecutor, then you concluded by saying essentially that's its not his problem, it's hillary clinton's problem. then in november, after mr comey again made news in late october by reopening the investigation, you said again on fox news, fbi director comey did the right thing when he found new evidence. he had no choice but to report it to the american congress where he had testified. the investigation was over... studio: we are pulling away from this live

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