tv News Sessions Senate Testimony Bloomberg June 13, 2017 2:30pm-5:08pm EDT
attorney general sessions in the room, he would address it. i expect if james comey is in the room and the president is making the request, for instance, that comey testified about, "can you lay off michael flynn," they might be more appropriate for james comey to say, "mr. president, we have to let that take its records and it is not appropriate for you to make a request like that." come onple would say the constitutional side of this says, that the president can fire james comey, as he did. he can order investigations to be commenced or stopped. and the consequence for that is in the impeachment realm. ask for -- all he asked for the day after michael flynn was fired or forced out was, hey, can we lay off the guy now? comey, to his credit, notice that michael flynn is not in the center of this russia investigation. he has his own problem. but he is not in the center of the russia investigation. comey went on to say that there is no evidence of collusion,
just as mark warner, the ranking member of the senate intel committee, set on the sunday talk shows. like i said earlier about senator -- sorry, not senator anymore -- attorney general sessions' testimony today, i expect it will dampen many concerns. i don't think there's much risk to the white house here. i think all in all it is going to be a little bit boring, and those folks inside the beltway will parse it a great deal. and i am a lawyer. i parse language, too, to see what is really meant. but to the american public, i think this is going to be an exercise in openness that is not very enlightening and does not provide much more in the way of new concerns. scarlet: so as part of that do you believe the attorney general will he be answering the questions straight on -- will be invoking executive privilege or answering the questions straight on? answer them straight on as much as he can.
when you get to invoking executive religion, that is something you would rather not do. the questions have to be pretty far afield or extreme or four into the details of the investigation, especially when he has recused himself from, that he would not recoverable answering those. i don't know that it would be executive privilege so much as not wanting interference in an ongoing investigation. julia: you just pointed out, the attorney general has recused himself. and yet he seemed to be involved in the firing of james comey. how do you think he is going to explain that, and what do you want to hear from him? that is a concern for many. ken: it is too many, and it represents a huge misunderstanding. look, the fbi is investigate hundreds, if not thousands, of things as we speak. james comey's firing had zero -- zero impact on the russia investigation. and within about 40 hours of james comey's firing, the acting fbi director, who all signs
point to him having democrat leanings -- there is no reason to think that andrew mccabe, acting fbi director, is sympathetic to president trump -- julia: but sir -- let me finish. he told the senate under oath that nothing had slowed down in the russia investigation and there is no reason to have expected it to put julia: so you think it is ok that the attorney general was involved in the firing of james comey because he did not have any influence on the russia investigation? ken: absolutely. julia: he recused himself -- ken: no, you are wrong. you don't know what you are talking about. this is an entire organization, the department of justice -- personnel come and go, even the director, even attorneys general. those investigations continue, and the people who are primarily responsible for them are the career investigators. who is caring for the work right now. there are plenty of them, they
are professionals, and they are not influenced to proceed or not proceed by this higher-level goings-on. scarlet: given all that, should the president fire robert mueller? there has been a suggestion made by the president's surrogates that perhaps he might ask bob mueller to step aside and ask someone else to take over the investigation. what is your take? ken: look, there are a lot of --ple complement and mueller'sing background. has anmueller outstanding professional reputation and it is earned. and there is no reason to think that he has an ax to grind here. realink the trump folks' problem isn't mueller. the problem is that there is an investigation going on at all. they see this as harassment, is
made up, and there is a lot of reasons to think that is true. that investigation should go forward. you can only remove special counsel for cause once appointed. unless the investigation comes to a conclusion, or there's untoward behavior, there isn't going to be a good reason to remove mueller. know you are saying you don't want to talk about lessons or advice here, but there are many around president trump who believe his tweeting is damaging his credibility. would you agree with them? ken: yes. i think that the president makes the achievement of his own goals harder with a lot of his loose tweeting and loose talk. i think he makes things more difficult for himself that he needs to. and i just think that is hard to argue with. you also have the problem of mismanagement within the white house. reince preibus isn't a manager. he was a professional fundraiser before he came into be chief of
staff, and the communications department has not been very consistent. now the president come back to your tweet question, does undercut them with some of his personal messaging that is not coordinated with the team. at the same time, there is a management problem in the white house. they could do a lot better job there. julia: you mean managing the president himself? ken: no, no come i mean managing the work of the white house. when you are going to fire the fbi director, someone in the chain of command should have called the fbi director. team wasnications clearly not ready for the blowback, which means the white house -- and i look at the chief of staff primarily -- wasn't ready for the blowback commended and prepare his team properly. just systematically, there is a checklist of things you should be prepared for, and he didn't do it. and the president was and will serve to there. -- was not well served there. i think firing comey -- i said almost a year ago that it should
be done. people like calendar show was on the left said it should be done. -- alan dershowitz on the left said it should be done. there was substantive reasons comey should be gone. nevertheless, the way you do it is important and the white house did not manage the situation well and they do not take the timing will to make what otherwise i think is a good comes substantive decision. --rlet: two former our thanks to former virginia cinelli, general ken cuc joining us from washington. we are awaiting the start of the testimony by attorney general jeff sessions. the chairman of the intelligence committee, richard burr, will deliver opening remarks soon. we want to bring in kevin cirilli, our chief washington correspondent. this testimony was scheduled to begin at 2:30 p.m. we are a little behind here. what are you hearing? kevin: behind me, lawmakers are beginning to file into the u.s. senate intelligence committee hearing room. people like senator mark warner,
top democrat for virginia on the committee, already inside. the questions they will be putting forth toward attorney general jeff sessions really going to be focusing on whether or not he disclosed all of the meetings that we see senator -- we see senator mccain entering in behind us. senator, do you have any hope for what you hope to hear from the attorney general? senator mccain: keep hope alive. there you have it, senator john mccain saying he hopes to keep hope alive. not a lot of comment from lawmakers as they are entering into the hearing now. but i can tell you, it has been a busy day on capitol hill, with lots of moving parts, to say the least. julia: doesn't say much, but it doesn't stop you asking, kevin. love it. we were talking about executive privilege and how many times that is invoked.
how may times a question gets asked that we want the answer to an jeff sessions doesn't respond because he feels he can't at this moment? kevin: lawmakers dodging questions? that never happens up here. no, of course it happens quite freely. whether or not the attorney decides to invoke executive privilege remains to be seen, but there is widespread consensus, at least among republicans, that russians did in fact packed into the 2016 presidential election. we saw that on the bloomberg by the great reporting from our colleagues, 39 states that were impacted as a result of the hacking. amongst republicans, at least, it is how to respond to that. they don't think there is enough evidence to suggest there is obstruction of justice on behalf of the president is not but they are beginning together a sections package led by senate banking committee chairman mike crapo. it would codify previous sanctions we saw in the obama administration, and this is really interesting, and i think we should underscore this -- it
would also give congress the ability to approve, the senate the ability to approve or disapprove, should president trump at any point decide to walk back russia sanctions. so clearly they are looking to take proactive steps to keep these sanctions very much intact against russia for their actions. i think that is great context and very important to remember, as we await the start of this testimony, which, again, extensively goes back to the idea of russian interference in the elections, but has since taken on broader parameters. we can see jeff sessions, the attorney general, entering the room. he is making his way to the front, where he will be testifying. what is interesting here, kevin, testifyingcanceled before panels overseeing funding of the doj. why did he agreed to testify before the senate intelligence committee? senator forabout a war -- we just saw that play out in front of us.
i talked to a couple of sources who said that he was the one who wanted to make it public. you wanted this opportunity to testify. something i'm hearing from other folks who have been involved in these investigations, people like roger stone, michael caputo , previous trump campaign officials who are adamant that they want to be able to testify publicly as a result of testify privately. they feel that that is only fair, given the amount of leaks they feel of come out of these close-door briefings. you remember that it was just last week following that briefing last week in which you had a situation where the former fbi director said, reportedly behind closed doors, that there was undisclosed meetings. senator collins walking in behind me, another top republican on the committee. largely isse is seen one of the republicans who has been pressing the administration in a way that several of her
republican colleagues have not. scarlet: and of course, we are awaiting the start of this testimony. it was due to begin at 2:30 p.m. they are running a little behind schedule. several senators stopping by and reading the attorney general, shaking his hand. quick greeting, and then moving on to take a spot on the dais, or i should say in the chamber. julia: in terms of protocol -- kevin: senator joe manchin, what are you hoping to hear from the attorney general? senator manchin: his account of everything. it will be good for him to tell his story. today is the day. er: do you think senator sessions has conducted himself ethically? senator manchin: welcome he will be speaking to all those things. reporter: do you think executive privilege will come up? senator manchin: i don't think it well. all right, let's listen
in as the chairman of the senate intelligence committee, richard burr, delivers his opening remarks. sen. burr: as i mentioned when director 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 large and diverse place. we recognize the gravity of our investigation into russia's interference in the 2016 u.s. elections. but i remind our constituents that while we investigate russia, we are scrutinizing the -- why we are investigating russia, we're still scrutinizing the cia's budget, the nsa's 702 program, our nation's satellite program, and the entire ic effort to recruit and retain the best
talent we can find in the world. more often than not, the committee conducts his work behind closed doors, unnecessary step to ensure that are most -- a necessary step to ensure that are most sensitive sources are protected. the sanctity of these sources and methods are at the heart of the intelligence community's ability to keep us safe, and taking our allies safe and those who seek to harm us. -- from those who seek to harm us. i have said repeatedly that i do not believe that any committee -- that the committee does should be done in public. but i also recognize the gravity of the committee's current investigation, and the need for the american people to be presented the facts so that they might make their own judgments. it is for that reason that this committee has now held its 10th open hearing of 2017. more than double that of the .ommittee in recent years and the fifth on the topic of russian interference.
attorney general sessions, it is your opportunity to separate fact from fiction, and to set the record straight on a number of allegations reported in the press. for example, there are several issues that i'm hopeful we'll address today. meetingsyou have any with russian officials and their proxies on behalf of the trump campaign or during your time as attorney general? two, what was your involvement with candidate trump's foreign policy team, and what were their possible interactions with russians? three, why did you decide to recuse yourself from the government's russia investigation? what role if any did you play in the removal of a former fbi director comey? i look forward to a candid and honest discussion as we continue to pursue the truth behind russia's interference in the 2016 elections. the committee's experienced staff is interviewing relevant parties. having spoken to more than 35
individuals to date, including just yesterday an interview of former homeland security johnson, weh continue to review some of the most sensitive intelligence in our country's possession. as i have said previously, we will establish the facts, separate from rampant speculation, and lay them out for the american people to make their own judgment. only then will we as a nation be able to put this episode to best and look to the future -- to rest and look to the future. i'm hopeful that members will focus their questions today on the russia investigation, and not squander the opportunity by taking political or partisan shots. the vice-chairman and i continue to lead this investigation together on what is a highly charged political issue. 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 forcefully around us. and i think all members would agree that despite a torrent of public debate on who and what committee might be best suited to lead on this issue, the intelligence committee has lived up to its obligation to move forward with purpose and above politics. mr. attorney general, it is good to have you back. i wouldn't now turn to the vice-chairman for any remarks he might have i. sen. warner: thank you, mrs. sherman, and i want to thank the way we are proceeding on the investigation. mr. attorney general, good to see you again, and we appreciate your appearance on the heels of mr. comey's revealing testimony last week. i do however want to take a moment at the outset and first expressed some concern with the process by which we are seeing the attorney general today. that youunderstanding
originally scheduled to testify in front of the house and senate appropriations committees today. i know those appearances have been canceled to come here instead. while we appreciate this testimony before our committee, i believe, and i believe i speak man for many of my colleagues, that you should answer questions from members of those committees and the judiciary committee as well. mr. attorney general, is my hope that you will reschedule those appearances as soon as possible. i want to say at the outset that while we consider your parents today as just the beginning -- your appearance today as just the beginning of our interaction with you and your department, mr. attorney general, we always expected to talk to u.s. part of our investigation. we believe it would be later in the process. we are glad to accommodate your request to speak with us today. but we also expect to have your commitment to cooperate with all future requests and makers of available as necessary to this
committee -- make yourself available as necessary to this committee for this very important investigation. ellis moved to the subject of today's discussion. let's start with the campaign. you were an early an ardent supporter of mr. trump. in march, you are named chairman of the trump campaign's national security advisory committee. you were much more than a surrogate. you were strategic advisor who helped shape much of the s national security strategy. no doubt you will have the insights about some of the trump 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 during the campaign. during her confirmation hearing "did noty, he said, have to medications with russians." you haveeahy asked if had contact with any part of the
russian government about the 2016 election. you answered come i believe, with a definitive no. , weite that, the fact is discovered later, that you did have interactions with russian government officials during the course of the campaign. in march, you acknowledged 2 meetings with russian investor. yet there has also been some of public reports of a possible third meeting at the mayflower 27.l on april i hope that today will help clear of those discrepancies. we also expect and hope -- this is very important -- you will be willing to provide the committee with any documents we need to shed light on this issue, such as emails or calendars. then there is the topic of the firing of former fbi director comey. last thursday we received testimony from mr. comey. under oath, he outlined his very troubling interactions with the president, as well as the circumstances of his firing. a few disturbing points stood out. , who has. comey
decades of expensive stream at the department of justice and the fbi -- experience at the department of justice and the fbi, serving under both parties come was so unnerved by the actions of the president that he felt "compelled to fully document every interaction" they had. you arey sat where sitting today and testify that he was concerned that the president of the united states might lie about the nature of their meetings to that is a shocking statement from one of our nation's top law enforcement officials. we also heard that director comey took it as a direction from the president that he was to drop the fbi's investigation into former national security advisor general michael flynn. finally, we heard from mr. comey that he believes he was fired over his handling of the russia investigation. the president himself confirmed this in statements to the media.
this is deeply troubling for all of us who believe on both sides of the aisle in preserving the independence of the fbi. in order lot of work to follow up on these alarming disclosures. mr. attorney general, your testimony today is an opportunity to begin the process of asking those questions. for instance, again, and i know others will ask about this, you recused yourself from the russia investigation. yet you participated in the firing of mr. comey over the handling of that same investigation. we want to ask you about how you view your refusal, and whether -- recusal, and whether you believe you complied with it fully. we heard from mr. comey last week that the president asked you to leave the oval office so he could speak one-on-one with mr. comey. again, very concerning action. we will need to hear from you about how you viewed the president's request, and whether you thought it was appropriate. we also want to know if you are
aware of any attempt by the president to enlist leaders in the intelligence community to undermine this very same russia investigation. most importantly, our committee will want to hear what you are doing to ensure that the russians, or any other foreign adversaries, cannot attack our democratic process like this ever again. i am concerned that the president still does not recognize the severity of the threat. he to date come i believe, has not even acknowledged the unanimous conclusions of the u.s. intelligence community that russia massively intervened in our elections. the threat we face is real, and it is not limited to us. the recent events in france are a stark reminder that all western democracies must take steps to protect themselves. i believe the united states can and must be a leader in this effort. but it will require our administration to get serious about this matter. finally, in the past several weeks with sina concerning
pattern of administration -- we have seen a concerning pattern of administration officials refusing to answer questions about allegations about the president and this investigation. we had a hearing on this subject last week and i want to commend the chairman, who at the end of that hearing made 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's going on here. thank you, mr. chairman. i look forward to the witness' testimony. sen. burr: thank you, vice chairman. attorney general sessions, if you stand, i will administer the oath to you. raise your right hand. do you sell a swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, nothing but the truth, so hope you god? atty. gen. sessions: i do. sen. burr: please be seated. thank you, attorney general sessions. the floor is yours. atty. gen. sessions: thank you very much, chairman burr and
ranking member warner, for the opportunity to appear before your committee today. i appreciate the committee's incredibly important efforts to investigate russian interference with our democratic processes. such interference and 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 matters related to 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, mr. chairman, consistent with long-standing department of justice practices, i cannot and will not violate my duty to protect the confidential communications i have with the president. now let me address some issues directly.
i did not have any private do i recall any conversations with any russian officials at the mayflower hotel. i did not attend any meetings at separate prior to the speech i attended by the president. i attended a reception with my staff that included at least two dozen people and president trump. though i do recall several conversations that i had during reception, i do not have any recollection of meeting or talking with 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. there was an area for that. in a different room. and then i left the hotel. but whether i ever attended a reception where the russian ambassador was also present is
entirely beside the point of this investigation into russian interference in the 2016 campaign. let me state this clearly, colleagues. i have never met with or had any conversation with any russians for 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. in this -- ileague was your colleague in this body for 20 years, at least some of you. and 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've served with honor for or to undermine the integrity of our democratic process, is an appalling and
detestable lie. there is the assertion that i did not answer senator franken's question honestly and my confirmation hearing. colleagues, that is false. "colleagues" now i'm no longer part of the study. but former colleagues, that is false. asked me anken rambling question after some six hours of testimony that included dramatic new allegations that the united states intelligence community, the u.s. intelligence community, had advised resident elect t -- president-elect trump "that there was a continuing exchange o information between p's campaign, trum surrogates, and intermediaries for the russian government."
by thatken aback explosive allegation, which he said was being reported by breaking news that very day, and which i had not heard. i wanted to refute that immediately. any suggestion that i was part of such an activity, i replied --senator franken this way "senator franken, i'm not aware of any of those activities. i have been called a surrogate a time or two during the campaign and i did not have communications with the russians, and i'm unable to comment on it." that was the context in which i was asked the question, and in that context, my answer was unfair and correct response to the charge as i understood it. i was responding to this allegation, that surrogates have been meeting with the russians on a regular basis. it simply 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 situations, as i have had many routine meetings with other foreign officials. and itse hear me now, was only in march after my confirmation hearing that a reporter asked my that a reporter asked my spokesperson whether i had ever met with any russian officials. this was the first time that question had then posed to me. on the same day, we provided that reporter with the information related to the meeting that i and my staff held , as well as office a brief encounter in july after given during the convention in cleveland, ohio. i also provided the reporter with a list of 25 meetings i had
during 2016. i'd provided supplemental -- testimony to the senate judiciary committee to explain this event are i have already readily acknowledged these meetings and not one thing that was improper in any one of those. let me also explain clearly the circumstances of my recusal from the investigation into the russian interference with the 2016 elections. please hear me on this. i was sworn in as attorney general thursday, february 9. the very next day, as i had i met with career department officials including senior at the officials, to discuss some things publicly reported in the press that might have some bearing on whether or not i might recuse myself in
this case. i announced my formal recuse on march 2. i was never briefed on any investigative details, did not access any and commission about the investigation. i received only the limited -- determine it would be necessary for me to make a recusal decision. i have no knowledge about this investigation as ongoing today. beyond what was publicly reported. i don't even read that carefully. taken no action whatsoever with regard to any such investigation. on the date of my formal recusal, my chief of staff senate email to the heads of relatives departments -- relevant departments including them on thisstruct
recusal and advised him not to brief me in any way in any such matters. in fact, they have not. importantly, i recuse myself not because of any certain iongdoing or any believe that may be involved in any wrongdoing in the campaign, but because a department of justice regulation -- i felt required it. that regulation states in effect that employees should not ofticipate in investigations a campaign as they -- if they serve as a campaign adviser. cannot interfere with my ability to oversee the department of including the fbi, which
has an eight or in dollar budget and 35,000 employees. i presented to the president my concerns and those of rod rosenstein, about the ongoing leadership issues the fbi has stated in my letter recommending the removal of mr. comey of -- along with the memorandum on the issue, released publicly by the white house. those represent a clear statement of my views. i'd up to rosenstein's points he .ade it is absurd, friendly, to suggest a recusal from a single investigation would render the attorney general unable to manage the leadership of the various department of justice thatnforcement component
conducts thousands of investigations. during his testimony, mr., discussed a conversation he and i had about a meeting he had with the president. i am happy to share with the committee my recollection of that conversation that i had with mr. comey. following a routine morning briefing, mr. comey spoke to me and my chief of staff. while he did not provide me with any substance of his conversation with the president, apparently the day before, mr. comey expressed concern about proper communications protocol with the white house and with the president. recall this but i did respond to his comment by agreeing that the fbi and the department of justice needed to be careful to follow department appropriatearding
contacts with the white house. mr. comey had served in the department for better than two decades. confident he would abide by the well-established rules limiting communications with the white house, especially about ongoing investigations. that is what is so important to control. he was encouraged to do just that and as i understand it, he did that. of justice rules have been in place for years. mr. komen -- mr. comey knew them and i thought he complied with them. finish with this or i recuse myself from any investigation into the campaign for president but i did not accuse myself from defending my honor against scurrilous and false allegations. times throughout the course the campaign, the confirmation process, and since
becoming attorney general, i have dedicated myself to the highest standards. i've earned a reputation for in this, ie and believe, over decades. the people of this country expect an honest and transparent government, and that is what we are giving them. this president wants to focus on the people of this country to ensure they are treated fairly -- fairly and kept safe. the trump agenda is to improve the lives of the american people. that is his agenda and it is what i share. importantly, as attorney general, i have a response billy to enforce the laws of the nation to protect the country from its enemies and ensure the fair administration of justice dayi intend to work every
with the fine team and professionals in the department of justice to advance the important work we have to do. these attacks and the innuendos and the leaks, you can be sure will not intimidate me. these events have only strengthened my resolve to fulfill my duty to reduce crime and report federal, state, and local law enforcement offices who work on the streets every day. it was reported overdose death in this country, are rising faster than ever. last year, 52,000. the new york times just estimated it would be 52,000 over note -- overdose deaths. them are the -- murder rate is up 10%. the largest increase since 1968.
the cartels, the fraudsters, the terrorists, we're coming after you. everyone of our citizens, no matter who they are, or where they live, has the right to be safe in their homes and communities. deterred, i will not allow this department to be deterred, from its vital mission. thank you, mr. chairman, ranking member warner. it is a great honor to appear before you today and i'll do my best to answer your questions. >> thank you for that testimony. the share and the vice chairman will be recognized for 10 minutes and members will be wrecked mice for five minutes and i would like to remind members we are in open session. no references to classified materials should be used relative to the questions to recognize myself at this time for 10 minutes.
general sessions, you talked wherethe mayflower hotel, the president gave his foreign-policy speech and it has been covered in the press that the president was there and you were there and others were there. from your testimony, you said you don't remember whether ambassador qs leeco was there, the russian ambassador, is that correct? --ambassador kinsley act , the russianhere ambassador, is that correct? was there ever a private room
setting that you were involved in? >> no, other than the area shut from two or three dozen people. >> in event like this, i would take for granted the president shook hands. he served on -- she joined myre staff, with me in the reception area and throughout the rest of the event. would you say you were there as a united states senator or a surrogate for this event?
atty gen. sessions: i came as an interested person anxious to see what president trump would do. i think he had only given one speech before. time for interesting me to observe the delivery and the message he would make. that was my main purpose of the in there. sen. burr: you reported to other meetings with investor kinsley the sidelines of the republican convention and one in your senate office. have you had any other interactions with government over the year in a campaign capacity? in the campaign capacity? no. gen. sessions: i have racked my brain to make sure i could answer any of those questions correctly.
i would say when asked about whether i've had meetings with insians by the reporter march, we immediately recall the conversation, the encounter i had in the meeting i had in my office, and made that public. i never intended not to include that. i would have gladly reported the encounter that may have occurred in the mayflower, if i had remembered it or if it actually occurred, which i don't remember that did. on march 2, 2017, you formally recused yourself from the investigation being conducted by the fbi the department of justice. what are the specific reasons you chose to recuse yourself? atty gen. sessions: the specific
code ofs a cfr regulations put out by the department of justice, the rules, it of justice will read from it. unless off -- unless authorized, no employee should participate in a criminal investigation or a prosecution if he has a personal withpolitical relationship any person involved in the conduct of the investigation. political to say, for campaign. it said if you had a close identification with an elected arising or a candidate from service as a principal advisor, you should not
participate in the investigation of that campaign. many have suggested my recusal is because i felt i was a subject of the investigation have doneat i may something wrong. but this is the reason i recused myself. i felt i was required to under the rules of the department of as a leader of the department of justice, i should comply with the rules, obviously. your legal counsel basically know from day one that you would have to recuse yourself from the investigation? i have a sessions: timeline of what occurred. i was sworn in on the ninth of february. on the 10th of my first meeting, i could generally discuss the issue where the cfr was not discussed, we had several other meetings and it became clear to asover time that i qualified
typenificant advisor person to the campaign and it would be the appropriate and right thing for me. this could slander after comey's, said he knew there was a likelihood you would recuse yourself if he was probably familiar with the same statute? probably sossions: p or i'm sure the attorneys in the department of justice probably communicated with him. let me say this with -- to you clearly. as a matter of fact, i recused 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 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 the chief of staff. would you ask your chief of staff to make the email available? we would bessions: pleased to do so. you had anyave interactions with robert mueller since his appointment? i have not.ssions: director comey indicated he did not know that when i recuse myself and did not receive notice, one of the emails went to him by name. a lot happens and i'm not accusing him of any wrongdoing, but in fact, it was sent to him and to his name. as he said, mr. comey testified at length, in some
cases highlighting your presence at those meetings. wheredressed the meeting i'll have to leave except for director comey and the president p or you said he did inform how uncomfortable that was in your the ei andion was doj me to follow a -- follow the rules limiting correspondence. did director comey ever express discomfort with conversations the president might have had? two additional meetings and i think a total of six phone calls. atty gen. sessions: that is correct. there is nothing wrong with the president having communication with the fbi director. what is problematic for any department of justice employee to talk to any cabinet persons or white house officials
about ongoing investigations that are not properly cleared through levels in the department of justice. was a regulation that i think is healthy. i strongly believe we needed to restore discipline within the department to it here to just those kinds of roles, plus leaking rules and some of the other things that i rank our lacks and need to be restored. >> you couldn't have a conversation with the president about the investigation because you were never briefed about the investigation. that is. sessions: correct. the private meeting director comey had, by his own admission, i believe there are as many as six such meetings. i think he had two with president obama. it is not per se improper but i would not be justified for department of -- of part --
department official to share information about ongoing investigation without prior review and -- from above. sen. burr: you were the chair of this foreign-policy team for the trump campaign. to the best of your knowledge, did that team ever meet? we met a sessions: couple of times. but we never functioned, frankly, as a coherent team. sen. burr: for their any member's of the team you never met? atty gen. sessions: yes. >> as i mentioned in my opening statement, we appreciate your appearance here but we see this as the first step and we would like to get your commitment that you will agree to make yourself available as the committee needs in the weeks and months ahead. atty gen. sessions: i will
commit to appear before this and other committees, as appropriate. -- i do not think it is good policy to continually bring an attorney general over multiple committees going over the same things. >> the appropriations committee -- >> i'm sure -- >> limit his desk you -- >> i just gave you my answer. >> thank you. there will be questions about some of these meetings and whether they took lace or not, that we could get access to documents, your daybook or something so -- >> we will be glad to provide appropriate responses to your questions and review them carefully and try to be responsive. >> yesterday, a friend of the president suggested president trump was considered one moving director mueller as special counsel, do you have confidence in director mueller's ability to conduct this fairly and
impartially? i do not sessions: know about these reports and have no basis as to their validity. i have known mr. mueller over the years. he served 12 years as fbi director. i knew him before that and i in him but ice will not discuss any hypotheticals of what might be a natural situation in the future that i'm not aware of today because i know about the investigation. >> i have a series of questions. d believe the president has confidence in mr. mueller? i have nosessions: idea. >> if we commit to not take personal actions that might result in director,'s firing and dismissal? i could. sessions: probably say that with calmness because i'm recused from the investigation. the way it works is the acting
attorney general -- >> i'm aware but i just want to get you on the record that with your recusal, you would not take any actions to try to have stressed her the special investigator removed. atty gen. sessions: i would nothing valid be appropriate for me to do. >> i agree. to your knowledge, have any -- department of justice officials been involved with the possibility of presidential pardons with individuals involved in the russian investigation? atty gen. sessions: i am not able to comment on conversations with officials within the white house. that would be a violation of the communications role. >> so i can understand, the basis of that unwillingness, that is based on isaac of privilege? ity gen. sessions: long-standing policy, the department of justice not to theent on conversations
attorney general has had with the president of the united for confidential reasons that are founded in the co-equal ranch of powers in the constitution of the united states. >> does that mean you're claiming executive village? i am not sessions: because that is the president's power. >> what about other officials? i was not insions: any way suggesting i was having any conversations concerning pardon. there are privileges of communications in the department of justice that all of us share. we have the right to have a robust debate in the department of justice and we encourage people to argue cases on
different sides and those --uments are not historically, we've seen they should not he revealed. >> i hope you agree since you every is yourself that if the president and others would pardon someone during the midst of the investigation, that would be i would think problematic. they, you made in your testimony then reached this conclusion about the performance of then director comey's ability to lead the of the, that you agreed with memo. with rosenstein's the fact that you had worked with director comey for some time, did you ever have a with director comey with his failure to perform or some of the accusations that he was not running the f ei in a isd way or somehow the fbi
in turmoil, did you have any conversations about these subjects? atty gen. sessions: i did not. >> so you were his superior and there were fairly harsh things said about mr. comey. you never thought it was appropriate to raise the concerns before he was actually terminated by the president? i did not dosions: so. a memoranda was prepared by the deputy attorney general who performance, noted serious problems with it. i agreed with those. in fact, senator warner, we had talked about it even before i was confirmed and before he was confirmed here we both agree that a fresh start to the f ei was probably the best -- >> it seems a little, i could understand if you talk about and had aou came on
chance for a fresh start, but suddenly we are in the midst of an investigation to the timing seems peculiar to me. out of the blue that the president -- all the problems of , all things the acting director of the fbi denied is the case. -- let's go thought to may 27 committee. i think the chairman brought it up or by the time it's my seventh came around, you had for theed as chair national security advisory. showing up for the meeting would be appropriate -- >> that was the mayflower hotel. >> yes. jarederstanding was kushner was at that meeting as well? atty gen. sessions: i believe so. recall -- to the
best of your recollection, you had no conversation in that meeting? atty gen. sessions: i can assure you nothing improper, if i had a conversation, i just don't remember. >> there is nothing in your notes or memory come on you had a chance, to correct the record about the other sessions in response to senator franken and leahy, this did not pop in that maybe the overabundance of caution, the report of the session as well? set gen. sessions: i could possibly had a meeting but i still do not recall it and did not in any way failed to record testimony ormy subsequent letter intentionally false.
>> i'm trying to understand you corrected the record and clearly since you had the chance, would have thought you would have known. it received quite a bit of notoriety. again i quit with the chairman has said, again for the record, there was no other meeting with any other officials during the campaign season. atty gen. sessions: not to my recollection and the two encounters you referred to, i came there not knowing he would be there. i did not have any communications with him before or after the event and likewise, at the event at the convention, i went off the convention grounds to a college campus for
just.nt -- let me i did not know he would be in the audience. that is my recollection. >> and you are part of the vip reception. general sessions, one of the things that i need to sort mr. comey's's testimony last week was that he felt uncomfortable when the president asked everyone else to leave the room. he left the impression that you lingered and perhaps felt uncomfortable about it as well. i will allow you to correct that if it is not the right impression. after the meeting took place, which clearly, director comey felt -- you never asked director
comey what to lace in the meeting? we were. sessions: there, i was standing there, and any conversation that took place, what i recall is i did the part. else did theryone part and director comey was sitting in front of the president's and they were talking. i believe it was the next day he did -- he said something that is best concerned about being left alone with the president. that in itself was not problematic. he did not tell me any details about anything said that was improper. we shouldoncern that be following the proper guidelines of the department of justice and basically backed him and hehis concerns
should not carry on any conversations with the president or anyone else about an investigation in a way that was not proper. he's so long in the department, former deputy attorney general as i recall, new those policies probably a good deal better than i did. >> thank you. did appear that mr. comey felt the conversation was improper. he wasn. sessions: concerned about it his recollection of what he said, it is consistent with my recollection. >> good to hear you talk about how important the russian not thinkce -- i do there is any american who would disagree with the fact that we need to drill down with this and know what happened, get it out in front of the american people. that is with the committee started to do.
. constantthat there was medications between the charm campaign and the russians and theusion regarding elections. do you recall that when it came out? not exactlyssions: but generally. he chases down through the intelligence community and was not able to find evidence to that effect and that he sought republicans and democrats appear to tell him this was false and that there was no such facts anywhere that corroborated with the new york times had reported. nonetheless, after this committee took that on, it is one thing we spent substantially more time on that van russian
measures, we have been through thousands of pages of information. really no different than where this whole thing started here there have been no reports i know of of any factual information. are you aware of any such information? atty gen. sessions: the so-called dossier? i believe that is the report senator franken hit me with when i was testifying. has beent substantially discredited that you would know more than i. this would suggest i participated in continuing communications with russians as a surrogate, that is absolutely false. >> has been talk about conversations and you had conversations with the russians. senators who want foreign relations and intelligence on theices, conversations with
offices of other governments and ambassadors or what have you are everyday occurrences here, multiple occurrences, is that a fair statement? if you run into one in the grocery store, you will have a conversation. is that fair? atty gen. sessions: nothing improper. >> on the other hand, collusion russians were any others when it comes to our elections would certainly be improper and illegal. would that be a fair statement? atty gen. sessions: absolutely. >> are you willing to sit there that you participated in no conversations of any kind with collusion from the trump campaign and any foreign government? atty gen. sessions: i can say that absolutely. no hesitation to do so. >> you traveled with the
campaign i gather? you spoke for the campaign? >> i was not continually -- >> based upon your experience and your participation in the campaign, did you hear even a or anyone suggestion making suggestions within the campaign that somehow the whatians were involved # would you have done a few hundred that? would haveessions: i been shocked and known it was improper. this is a serious matter. talking about hacking into a private person or dnc computer and obtaining information and spreading that out. it is just not right and i believe it is like the that laws were violated if that actually occurred. it is an improper thing.
>> has any person from the white house including the president of the united states directed you and asked you to do any unlawful or illegal acts to have the attorney general of the united states? atty gen. sessions: no. >> thank you. >> welcome, attorney general. on may 19, mr. rosenthal -- rosenstein in a statement to the house of representatives essentially told them he learned on may 8 that president trump intended to remove director comey. when you wrote your letter, on may 9, did you know the president had already decided to fire director comey? i would sayssions: i believe it has been made public that the president asked
given andnion, it was he asked us to put that in writing. i do not know how much more he set about it than that. i believe he has talked about it and i would let his words speak for themselves. >> on may 11, nbc nightly news two days later, the president stated he would fire comey regardless of the recommendation. i am puzzled about the recommendation because the decision had been made. what was the need for you to write a recommendation? atty gen. sessions: we were asked our opinion and when we expressed it, which was with the memorandum i feltletter we wrote,
comfortable and i guess the deputy attorney general did, and providing that information in writing. >> so you concur with the president that he was going to fire comey regardless of recommendation because the problem was the russian investigation? ity gen. sessions: i guess will just have to let his words speak for himself. i am not sure what was explicitly in his mind when we talked. >> did you ever discussed director comey's's fbi handling of the russian investigations with the president or anyone else? that wouldessions: call for a communication between the attorney general and the president and i'm not able to comment on that. theou cannot answer question here whether you ever discussed that with him? atty gen. sessions: that is correct.
>> how do you view that since he discussed his to -- discussed his termination, why would you not discuss the reasons? that was putsions: in writing and sent to the president and he made this public. he made that public. had no verbal conversations with him? i'm not ablesions: to discuss with you or confirm or deny conversations i had with the president on this subject or others. i know how this will be discussed, but those are the rules long adhered to by the department of justice as you know. >> you are a longtime colleague rodgers say admiral it essentially the same thing, when it was easy to just say when the answer was no, no.
atty gen. sessions: it would be easy to say if it were yes, but both would be improper. >> ok. how exactly were you involved in the terminate -- in the termination of director comey? letteroking at your dated may 9 and you say the director of the fbi must be someone who follows faithfully the rules and principles, who sets the right example for law enforcement officials. i therefore 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 this had to do with director comey's's performance with the men and women of the f ei? atty gen. sessions: there is a
and theew of mine deputy attorney general rosenstein, as he said in some length in his memorandum, which i adopted and sent to the president, that we had problems there, and it was my best judgment that a fresh's art at the fbi was the appropriate thing to do. asked if it was something i would adhere to, the letter down with a number of things, when mr. comey declined the clinton prosecution, that was really usurping the authority of federal prosecutors in the department of justice. it was a stunning development. the fbi is the investigative team. they do not decide prosecution policies.
he also commented at some length of the clinton prosecution, which you shouldn't do. see --. if you decline come you to climb, and you do not talk about it. other things have happened that indicated to me a lack of and a caused controversy on both sides of the aisle. i had come to the conclusion a fresh start was appropriate and i did not mind putting that in writing. thank you. >> thank you for being here. i want to go back and close the loop on the details. director comey provided great detail on the day. i have heard so far that there was a meeting in the oval office and you recall being there with him. the meeting concluded at some point, everyone got up to leave, the president asked director
comey to stay behind. this is. sessions: something i said i would not, it on. >> you remember him staying behind. ok p or to his testimony was you lingered and the view was because you knew you needed to stay. that was his characterization or do you remember lingering and feeling like you needed to stay? atty gen. sessions: i do recall being one of the last ones to leave. to be last onede to leave? >> i do not know how that occurred. a number of people were there and people were filtering out and i eventually left. i recall i think i was one of the last two or three to leave. to say you be fair felt in new to stay because it atty gen.he director?
sessions: i do not know. i left. he did not seem to me to be a major problem. i knew that director, could handle himself well. aftercharacterized that that he went up to and said do not leave meal of the president again and is not appropriate and he said you just shrugged as if to say, what am i supposed to do about it? think i. sessions: i described it more completely and correctly. he raised the issue with me i believe the next day. i think that was correct. and he expressed concern to me about that private conversation. essentiallyh him that the rules on private not --ations -- there is piecesivate discussion
discussed with president trump. , and he gavel like me no detail about what it was he was concerned about. i would not be able to respond if he called me. --knew that with regard to that he could call his direct supervisor, which, in the scum of the direct supervisor to the fbi is the deputy attorney general. he could appoint -- complained to the deputy or me at any time if he felt pressured but i had no doubt he would not yield to any pressure. >> do you know of the president records conversations in the ?hite house is any president were to record conversations in official duties , with there be an obligation to preserve those records? i don't. sessions: know. probably so.
>> i want to go to the campaign for a moment. i am sure you are aware, it is been widely reported that russian intelligence agencies aten pose not simply as -- businessman, journalist, and the like. at any point, did you have an with someone who in hindsight wereook back and say, they trying to influence me and gain insight that in hindsight, you wonder? i don't. sessions: believe in my conversations, three times -- i met a lot of people, a lot of who wanted toals i argue their case for the country and to point out things they thought were important for this country -- the countries. that is a normal thing we talk about.
>> a businessman or anyone walking down the street who struck you, if anyone thought it would your up to, do you remember any sort of interaction who -- that in hindsight appears suspicious? atty gen. sessions: i would have direct my brain but i do not recall it now. >> the republican platform was changed to not provide defensive weapons to ukraine. were you involved in that decision and to you know how the change was made or who was involved? atty gen. sessions: i was not active in the platform committee, did not participate in that, and i don't think i had any direct involvement. recollection of a debate about that? atty gen. sessions: i never watched the debate. if it occurred on the platform committee, i think i'd -- i think it did. i would have to think about that. >> 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. want to hearnot answers to relevant questions that are off-limits, or that cannot be provided in public or that it would be inappropriate whatitnesses to tell us they know p we are talking about an attack on a democratic institutions and stonewalling of any kind is unacceptable. general sessions acknowledged there is no legal basis for this stonewalling. it is not -- last thursday, i asked former director comey about the fbi press's interactions with you, general sessions come prior to your theing -- sitting aside in investigation. mr. comey said your intent -- continued engagement with the russian investigation was problematic and he could not
discuss it in public. mr. comey also said fbi personnel have been calling for you to step aside from the investigation at least two weeks so here itinally did in your prepared statement, you stated that you received only limited information necessary to decision.r recusal given the statement, we need to know what that was. were you aware of any concern fbi or elsewhere in government about your contest with the russians or any other matters relevant to whether you should step aside from the russian investigation? i am not sessions: stonewalling and i'm following the historic policies of the department of justice here you any hearing or
committee meeting and reveal confidential communications with the president of the united states, who is entitled to receive confidential can locations in your best judgment about a host of issues. after being accused of stonewalling for not answering. i would push back on that. secondly, mr. comey perhaps did i basicallyt recused myself the first data got into office because i never accessed files, i never learned the names of investigators, i never met with were asked for any documentation. the documentation, what little i received, mostly already in the media, it was prevented -- presented by the senior as the public and professional responsibility attorney in the department. i made it honest and proper as iion to recuse myself
told senator feinstein and members of committee would do when they confirmed me. >> respectfully come you're not answering the question. the question is mr. comey said there were matters with respect to the recusal that were problematic and he could not talk about them. what are they? don'ten. sessions: why you tell me? there are none, senator. there are none. forn tell you that absolutely certainty. this is an innuendo being leaked out there about me and i do not appreciate it and i have tried to give my truthful answers to any committee here before and really, people are suggesting through innuendo that i have and not honest about matters. i have tried to be honest. >> my time is short to you have made your point that you think
window. we will keep digging. atty gen. sessions: he did not say that -- >> you said it was problematic and i asked what was problematic about it. atty gen. sessions: what leaked out of the committee, he said in closed sessions. >> one more question. former fbi director whether your role in firing him violated your recusal given that president trump said he had fired comey because of the russian investigation. director comey said this was a reasonable question. i want to ask point-blank, why did you sign the letter recommending the firing of director comey when it violated your recusal? atty gen. sessions: it did not violate my recusal. it did not. that would be the answer to that. the letter that i signed my views that it had been formulated for some time.
view, doeswer, in my not pass to us -- does not pass the smell test. the president pete -- tweeted repeatedly about his anger the day before you wrote the letter. he tweeted that the collusion story was a total hoax and asked , when will the taxpayer-funded charade and. i do not think your answer passes the smell test. atty gen. sessions: i think it should be allowed to briefly respond and i would say the , that thee memorandum deputy rosenstein wrote in my letter accompanying it represented my views of the situation. >> thank you. who did whatrify with regard to the firing of mr.
comey. first of all, let me ask you, when did you have your first with rod rosenstein about mr. comey? talkedn. sessions: we about it when one of us was confirmed. it was a topic of conversation among people who had served in the department alone time that knew that what had happened that fall was pretty dramatically unusual in many people felt it and so it was in that context that we discussed we shared ath found common view that the fresh start would be appropriate. >> this was based on mr. comey's's handling of the investigation involving hillary clinton? and what you said that he usurped the authority of ross enters at the department of justice? atty gen. sessions: yes.
that was part on it -- part of it. go beyond the proper policies. we need to restore senator collins. the classic discipline in the department, my team, we have their has been to much talking publicly about investigations. run, better policy. >> the president asked for you to put your views in writing. you testified today. i believe you are right to recuse yourself from the ongoing russian investigation. on may 9, you wrote to the president recommending that mr. comey be dismissed. this obviously went back many to earlier conversations
you had with mr. rosenstein. is why do you believe your recommendation to fire director comey was not inconsistent with your march 2 recusal? atty gen. sessions: thank you. the recusal involved one case involved in the department of justice. and the fbi. they conduct thousands of investigations. i am the attorney general the united states and it is my response billy to our judiciary committee and other committees to ensure that that department is run properly. difficultmake decisions and i do not believe it is a sound position to say that if you've recuse for a single case involving any one of the great agencies like the dea or u.s. marshals or atf part of
the department of justice, you cannot make a decision about the leadership in that agency. >> if you had known the president subsequently would go and, in an interview with lester holt of nbc, would say was thes russian thing reason for his decision to dismiss the fbi director, would you have felt uncomfortable of thehe timing decision? i don't. sessions: think it is appropriate to deal with those kinds of hypotheticals. i have to do with actual issues. i would respectfully not comment on that. >> in retrospect, do you believe it would have been better for you to have stayed out of the decision to fire director comey?
i think itessions: is my responsibility. i was appointed to be attorney general, supervising all of the federal agencies is my responsibility. trying to get the very best people in the agencies, that is my responsibility. i think i had a duty to do so. >> director comey testify that he was not comfortable telling you about his one-on-one conversation with the president on february 14 because he believed you 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 team at the fbi. the director had an obligation to bring the about the president
saying he hoped he could let to someonenn go, else at the department of justice? there are often -- an awful lot >> we are going to policy to give you a look at how the markets are closing here. you can see we are in the green for the dow, a new record there. the s&p 500 and the nasdaq managing to take back losses we have seen for the prior two sessions, the worst drop of the year that we saw over the last two sessions. the nasdaq higher by .6% in the session today. so the tech wreck as we were calling it. >> the dow jones industrial average setting a new intraday high. you can see it closed off the session highs but pretty much near the better levels of the session. the nasdaq bouncing back from
its biggest to generate -- today dropped since september. me look at some of the other asset classes, you were looking at currencies, i know. >> the dollar is a little bit softer. the reason is the huge gains we've saw -- we saw for sterling today. and canada as well, more comments from the governor this time of the canadian central-bank. joe: the s&p 500 rising to close at an all-time high. the vix closing below 11. one of the things that was remarkable about the last two days, the degree to which volatility really was confined to tech. not only was it confined, but a
trade the old trump started coming back to a little bit, banks have been doing pretty well, small caps doing well. >> the energy names, financials, materials, the strongest performer of 1.3%. >> of there you have it, the s&p 500 and the dow closing at a record. you can see materials one of the better performers, gaining by more than 1.3% on the session. tech not too far behind, up by .9%. to the testimony of jeff sessions, the attorney general on capitol hill. atty gen. sessions: it is my
judgment that it would be inappropriate for me to answer and reveal private conversations has the president when he not had a full opportunity to review the questions and to make a decision on whether or not to approve such an answer. there are also other privileges that could be invoked. one deals with the investigation .f the special counsel >> we are not asking questions about that investigation. if i wanted to ask questions about that investigation, i -- i'm askinge about your personal knowledge from this committee, which has a constitutional obligation to get to the bottom of this. there are two investigations here. there's the special counsel investigation. there's also a congressional investigation, and you are of's crusting -- obstructing that congressional investigation by
not answering these questions, and i think your silence, like the summits of admiral rogers, speaks volumes. atty gen. sessions: i would say that i have consulted with senior career attorneys in the department and i believe it is consistent with my duties. the center to ask you questions about appropriateness. if you had known that there had been anything untoward with regard to russia in the campaign, would you have headed for the exits? your response was, maybe. why wasn't it a simple yes? atty gen. sessions: there was a improper, illegal relationship, in an effort to impede or influence this campaign, i absolutely would have departed. >> i think that is a good answer. i'm not sure why it wasn't the answer in the first place. neither you nor deputy attorney
general rod rosenstein product performance issues with director comey. fact, deputy fbi director mccabe has directly refuted any assertion that there were performance issues. its is troubling, because appears that the president decided to fire director call me because he was -- director comey says he was pursuing the russia investigation, and had asked you to come up with an excuse. when your assessment of director c --omey you have claimed that you did not break recusal when participating in the director's firing, but it hears his firing was directly related to russia, not departmental mismanagement. how do you square those two things? atty gen. sessions: you had a lot in question. let me say first, within a week or so, i believe may 3, director
believedtified that he the handling of the clinton proper and was appropriate and he would do it again. i know that was a great concern to both of us, because that represented something that i think most professionals in the department of justice would totally agree that the fbi investigative agency does not decide whether to prosecute or decline criminal cases. breathtaking user patient the responsibility of the attorney general. felt, that waswe sort of additional concern that heading the fbi, someone who boldly asserted the right to continue to make such decisions. that was one of the things we
discussed. that was in the memorandum, i believe, and it was also an important factor for us. the next recognize senator, i would like the record , admiralhat last night hours inent almost two almost the full committee fulfilling his commitment to us in the hearing and in closed session he would answer the question and i think it was thoroughly answered, and all members were given an opportunity. i just want director show that with what the senator stated. >> thank you, chairman. it is good to see you here. i know there are probably places you would both rather be today but you've always looked at public service is something you did together and it's good to see you here together and know that your family continues to be proud and supportive of what you
do. thank you, isions: have been blessed indeed. >> let me just get a couple of things clear in my mind, notes i've taken while people were asking questions. 27, 2016 event, i think that is the mayflower that theech presidential candidate gave on foreign policy, you didn't have a room at that event where you had private meetings, did you? i diden. sessions: no, not. >> as i understand it, you went to a reception that was attended by how many people? atty gen. sessions: i think two to three dozen. but she went in and heard a speech and may have seen people on your way out? atty gen. sessions: correct. >> so when you said you possibly had a meeting with mr. kinsley act, did you mean you possibly met him? atty gen. sessions: i didn't have any formal meeting with
him, i'm calm down at that. that's the only thing i can say with certainty i did not. >> sometimes when i hear a meeting that would mean more to me than i met somebody. you might have met him at the reception. could you have met other ambassadors at that reception as well? atty gen. sessions: i could. i remember one in particular that we had a conversation with. his country had an investment in alabama and we talked at a little linked about that. i remember that, but otherwise have no recollection of a discussion with the russian ambassador. there, you may have seen him, but you had no room where you were having meetings with individuals to have discussions at the mayflower hotel that day? atty gen. sessions: no, that is correct. comhenever you talk to mr.
after he had had his meeting with the presidente,y do you think that was probably the next day, -- when you talked to mr. comey? understandessions: his testimony may have suggested that it happened right after, but it was either the next morning, which i think it was, or maybe the morning after that. had a three times a week national security briefing with undertake, so it was after that that we had that conversation. >> what i'm not quite clear on is, did you respond when he expressed his concern or not? did gen. sessions: yes, i respond. i think he is incorrect. he indicated i believe that he was not totally sure of the exact wording of the meeting, but i do recall my chief of staff was with me, and we
recall, i did affirm the long-standing written policies of the department of justice concerning communications with the white house. rules, to follow those and in the long run you are much better off if you too. -- if you do. if the conversation moves into certain areas, it's the duty, the rules apply to the department of justice. so it is the duty of the fbi agent to say, mr. president, i cannot talk about that. that's the way that should work. and apparently it did, because he says he did not improperly discuss matters with the president. talk to youcomey about that meeting, did he engine mr. flynn? atty gen. sessions: no, he did not mention to me that he had been asked to do something he
thought was improper. he just said he was uncomfortable, i believe, with it. >> after that discussion -- atty gen. sessions: actually i don't know that he said he was uncomfortable. maybe what he testified to was perhaps the correct wording. i'm not sure exactly what he said, but i don't dispute it. what i remember him saying was that you did not react at all and kind of shrugged, but you are saying you referred him to the normal way these meetings are supposed to be conducted. atty gen. sessions: i took it as a concern that he might be asked something that was improper, and i affirmed to him his or not gos to say no, in an improper direction. >> i am assuming you would not talk about this because it would relate to the may 8 meeting, but
my sense is that no decision is final until it is carried out. my guess is that there are people at this day is to have said they are going to let somebody go or fire somebody that never did that, so the fact that the president said that on may 8 doesn't mean that the information he got from you on may 9 was not necessary or impact full, and i'm sure you're not going to say how many times the president said we ought to get rid of that person, but i'm sure that has happened. >> thank you for joining us today. i respect your willingness to be here. you testified a few minutes ago, i'm not able to invoke executive privilege, that's up to the president. has the president invoke executive privilege in the case of your testimony here today? atty gen. sessions: he has not. >> what is the basis of your
refusal to answer these questions here today? thesaid you don't have power to exert the power of executive privilege, so what is the legal basis for your refusal to answer these questions? atty gen. sessions: i am protecting the right of the president to assert it if he chooses, and there may be other privileges that apply in this circumstance. >> i don't understand hate can have it both ways. you testified that only the president can't assert it, and yet, i just don't understand the basis for your refusal to answer. think mostessions: i cabinet officials, others that you questioned recently, officials before the committee, protect the president's right to do so. where thes to a point issue is clear and there is a dispute about it, at some point the president will either assert the privilege or not, or some other privilege would be
but at this point, i believe it is premature for me deny the president a full and intelligent choice about executive privilege. that's not necessary at this point. >> you testified of me -- a few minutes ago that we were asked for our opinion. who asked for your opinion? atty gen. sessions: my understanding is, i believe i am correct in saying the president had said so, -- >> he didn't ask you directly? atty gen. sessions: you said "we were asked for our opinion." atty gen. sessions: i believe it was appropriate for me to say that because i think the president -- >> i'm just asking for your
opinion. who asked for your opinion. you just testified as to the content of the communication. atty gen. sessions: that is correct, but i believe i'm correct in saying that. that's why i indicated that when i answered that question. but if he hasn't, and i am in error, i would have constricted his constitutional right of privilege. >> you are being selective. atty gen. sessions: i'm not doing so intentionally, only because i believe he made that -- >> to the question of the russian investigation ever come up? cannotn. sessions: i answer that because it was a communication by the president, or if any such occurred, it would be a communication that he has not waived. >> but he is not asserted executive privilege. do you believe the russians interfered with the 2016
elections? atty gen. sessions: i believe so. i had to tell you, senator king, i have read in the paper. i've never received any detailed briefing on how a hacking occurred or how information was alleged to have in the -- >> there was a memorandum on october 9 at detailed what the after theere doing election, before the inauguration. you never sought any information about this rather dramatic attack on our country? atty gen. sessions: no. >> you never asked for a briefing or read intelligence reports? you might'vesions: been very critical of me if as an active part of the campaign i was seeking intelligence related to something that might be relevant to the campaign. >> i'm not talking about the campaign, i'm talking about what the russians did. he received no briefing on the russian active measures and can turn with the 2016 election?
no, i don'tssions: believe i ever did. >> let's go to your letter of may 9. use it based upon my valuation, was that a written evaluation? myy gen. sessions: evaluation was an evaluation that had been going on for some months. >> is there a written evaluation? atty gen. sessions: i did not make one. i think you can classified deputy attorney general rosenstein's memorandum as an evaluation, and he was the direct supervisor of the fbi director. based his evaluation was 100% on the handling of the hillary clinton emails, is that correct? numbern. sessions: and a of other matters, as i recall, but he did explicitly -- lay out the errors that he thought had been made in that process by the director of the fbi.
i thought they were cogent and accurate and far more significant than i think a lot of people have understood. >> thank you, mr. chairman. >> attorney general sessions, good to see you again. you have spoken very plainly from the beginning of your opening statement all the way through this time. i am amazed at the conversations as if an attorney general has never said there were private conversations with the president, and we don't need to discuss those. it seems to be a short memory about some of the statements eric holder would and would not make to any committee in the house for the senate and would or would not turn over documents even requested, they had to go all the way through the court system until finally the courts having to say no, the president cannot hold back documents and the attorney general cannot do that. so somehow, some accusation that you are not saying every conversation about every ring,
there is a long history of attorney general standing with other president and saying there are some conversations that are confidential. and can be determined from there. i was in the hearing this morning with rod rosenstein, as we dealt with the appropriations requests that originally obviously you were scheduled to be at that rosenstein was taking your place. he was peppered with questions about russia during that conversation as well. he was clear he had never had conversations with you about that. and that you had never requested conversations about it. he was also peppered with questions of the latest rumor of is somehow the president is thinking of firing robert mueller and getting rid of him and was very clear that rosenstein himself said on the only one that could do that, and i'm not contemplating that, nor
would i do that, no one has any the what that -- where latest unnamed source story of the day is coming from, but somehow it's grab and all the attention. define the word recused. i come back to your email that you sent to jim thome he and others that day on march 2. after careful consideration following meetings with career department officials over the course of the past several weeks, the attorney general has decided to recuse himself from any existing or future investigations of any matters related in any way to the campaigns for president of the united states. the attorney general's recusal is not only with respect to such investigations, if any, but also extends to the department responses to congressional and media inquiries related to such investigations. that something you have maintained from march 2 on? atty gen. sessions: absolutely. actually i maintained it from the first day i became attorney general.
matters and ihose felt until and if i ever made a decision to not recuse myself, i should not, as an abundance of caution, involve myself in studying the investigation or evaluating it, so i did not. i also would note that the memorandum from my chief of andf directs these agencies one of the people directly was james comey, director of the fbi. you should instruct members of your staff not to brief the attorney general or any other officials 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. so we took a proper and ferment crystal clear position that
recusal meant recusal. >> related to this april 27 meeting non-meeting in the same time, thee same national interest was asked specifically about that who was the host of the event. they stated this in writing. the center for national interest decided who to invite and then issue the invitations. the trump campaign did not determine or prove the invitation list. guests included both democrats and republicans. most of the guests were washington-based foreign-policy experts and journalists. they invited the russian ambassador and several other ambassadors to the speech. we regularly invite them to our events to facilitate dialogue. then they stated we see to it all for in the front row in deference to the diplomatic status, the trump campaign had nothing to do with the seating arrangement. they were invited to a short reception prior to the speech. the reception included
approximately two dozen guests in a receiving line. any conversations were inherently brief and could not be private. to a lightted exchange of pleasantries, appropriate on such events. setting likeoup this one, we consider it unlikely that anyone could have engaged in a meaningful private conversation without drawing attention from others present. do you have any reason to disagree with that? i think. sessions: no, it is a very fair description of the reception situation. i appreciate them having made that statement. you for being here, it's good to see you again. i want to follow-up on what senator king had asked. you and i are about the same vintage. back in our lifetime we had never known the russian government or the russian
military to ever be our friend, and wanting the same things we wanted out of life. with that being said, the seriousness of this russian hacking is very serious to me and concerning. you were saying that you had not been briefed on that. i think it was october 9 when it was known that dod and mr. mr. jeh johnson, homeland security, made that public, what was going on. then on december 29, president obama at that time expelled 35 russian diplomats and denied access to a russian compound and broadened existing sanctions. i would ask, did you have any discussions at all or sat in on any type of meetings or recommendations made to remove those sanctions? atty gen. sessions: i don't
recall any such meetings. to the president being inaugurated until through the transition, were there any meetings that he showed any can learn federation or just inquisitive of what the russians were really doing? atty gen. sessions: i don't recall any such conversation. i'm not sure i understood your question, maybe a better listen again. >> if he would have heard something about russia and their capabilities and are concerned about what they can do to our election process, was there ever any conversations concerning that whatsoever? atty gen. sessions: i don't recall that, senator manchin. >> also, when we had mr. comey here, he could not answer a lot of things in open session. he agreed to go into closed session. would you be able to going to
close session, would it change your answers to a three ability to speak more frankly on some things we want to know? atty gen. sessions: i'm not sure the executive privilege is not waived by going in closed session. it may be that one of the concerns is that when you have an investigation ongoing as the special counsel does, it is often very problematic to have in the not cooperating conduct of investigations and it may or not be a factor in going into closed session. >> it would be very helpful, committee has a lot of questions they would like to ask. have you had any other meetings with russian officials that have
not been disclosed? atty gen. sessions: i have racked my brain and i do not believe so. i can assure you that none of those meetings discussed manipulating a campaign in the united states in any way, shape, or form or any hacking or any such ideas. >> are there any other meetings between russian government officials and other trump campaign associate set of not been previously disclosed that you know of? atty gen. sessions: i don't recall any. you can just say yes or no as i go through the list. paul manafort. repeat that,sions: now. >> to the best of your knowledge, did any of these following individuals meet with russian officials at any point during the campaign? and it can just be yes or no on this. paul manafort. atty gen. sessions: i'll have any information that he is done so. he served as campaign chairman for a few months. >> steve bannon. atty gen. sessions: i have no information that he did. >> general michael flynn.
atty gen. sessions: i don't recall it. >> reince priebus. atty gen. sessions: i don't recall it. >> corey lewandowski. atty gen. sessions: i do not recall any of those individuals having any meeting with russian officials. >> carter page. atty gen. sessions: i don't know. knowledge. innate atty gen. sessions: there may have been some published accounts of mr. paige talking with russians, i'm not sure. i don't recall. >> you have been on both sides. atty gen. sessions: i have, indeed. all in all, it's better on that side. nobody gets to ask you about your private conversations. quakes if you are sitting on this side of the dais, what question would you be asking? atty gen. sessions: i would be
asking questions related to whether or not there was an impact on this election. , particularlyer the russians, since the intelligence community has suggested and stated that they believe they did, but i do think members of this government has offices to run and departments to manage. the questions should be focused on that. >> is there part of the story we are missing? atty gen. sessions: i don't know, because i'm not involved had nocampaign and information concerning it. i have no idea what stage it is. you members of this committee know a lot more than i. >> i will assure you we are very much focused on russia's involvement, and our hope is that as we complete this process, we will a post fax out for the american people so they can make their own
determinations as well. we are grateful for what you have done, senator. >> well, i am on this side of the dais, so i can say very simple question that should be asked. did all from or any of his associates in the campaign collude with russia in hacking those emails and releasing them to the public? that's where he started six months ago. we've now heard from six of the eight democrats on this committee and to my knowledge, i don't think a single one of them asked that question. they gone down lots of other rabbit trails but not asked that question. jim comey said that three times he assured him he was not under investigation. multiple democrats have stated they see no evidence thus far, after six months of our let -- investigation and 11 months of an fbi investigation, of any such collusion. what do we think happened at the mayflower?
sessions, are you familiar with what spies called tradecraft? it involves things like covert communications and dead drops. atty gen. sessions: that is part of it. >> do you like spy fiction? atty gen. sessions: alan first, david ignatius. >> do you like jason bourne or james bond movies? atty gen. sessions: no. >> have you ever in any of these fantastical situations heard of a plot line so ridiculous that a sitting united states senator and ambassador of a foreign government colluded in an open setting with hundreds of other people to pull off the greatest caper in history? atty gen. sessions: thank you for saying that. it's just like through the looking glass. i mean, what is this?
how in good faith i said i had not met with the russians, because they were suggesting i as a surrogate had been meeting continuously with russians. i said i did meet with them. now the next thing you know, i'm accused of some reception plotting some sort of influence campaign for the american election. it's just beyond my capability to understand, and are really appreciate the opportunity at least a bevel to say publicly, i did not participate in that and know nothing about it. >> i gather that's one reason why you want to testify today in public. alludedk, mr. comey ominously to what you call innuendo that there was some kind of classified intelligence that suggested you might have colluded with russia or that you might have otherwise acted improperly. you have addressed those allegations here today. do you understand why he made
that illusion? actually, issions: do not. nobody has provided me any information about that. ask you if you had spoken in response to mr. comey statement to you after his private meeting with the president on february 14 or fifth teen. you said that you didn't respond to mr. comey. his testimony said that you did not. do you know why mr. comey would've said he you did not respond on that conversation of february 14 or 15? atty gen. sessions: i do not. there was a little conversation, not very long, and i did respond to him, perhaps not to everything he asked, but i did respond to him. i think in an appropriate way. >> to you know why mr. comey mistrusted president trump from their first meeting on january 6?
was there anything from that meeting that caused him to have such mistrust? atty gen. sessions: i'm not able speculate on that. >> let's turn to potential crimes that we it. leaks of information. here's a short list of what i have. the transcripts of alleged conversations, the contents of mr. trump's phone calls with australian and mexican leaders come the content of his meetings with russian foreign minister ambassador, the leak of the manchester suspects identity and photos, and in a classified setting with mr. comey, the innuendo, are these leaks serious threats to our national security and is the the going tot openly prosecute them to the fullest extent of the law?
had one successful case very recently in georgia. that person has been denied bail , i believe, and is being held in custody. but some of these leaks, as you well know, or extraordinarily damaging to the united states security and we've got to restore a regular order principle. in ourot have persons intelligence agencies, or investigative agencies or in congress leaking sensitive matters on staff. -- afraid this will result has already resulted in investigations, and i fear that they wish they had not leaked. >> it was stated earlier that the republican platform is weakened on the point of arms refrain, that is incorrect, the platform is actually strengthened.
>> attorney general sessions, you have several times this afternoon preface your responses by saying to the best of your recollection. just on the first page of your three pages of written testimony, you wrote, nor do i recall, do not have recollection, do not remember it. i question is, for any of your test my today, did you refresh your memory with any written documents, be they are calendar, written correspondence, emails, notes of any sort? atty gen. sessions: i did reflect -- refresh my recollection, but so much of this is in a wholesale campaign of extraordinary nature that you are moving so fast that you don't keep notes. you meet people -- i didn't keep notes of my conversation with the russian ambassador at the republican convention. i'm just saying i didn't keep notes on most of these things.
>> will you provide this committee with a notes that you did maintain? asy gen. sessions: appropriate, i will supply the committee with documents. >> can you tell me what you mean by appropriate? atty gen. sessions: i 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. i'm not able to make that opinion today. >> i'm sure you prepare for this hearing today and most of the questions that have been presented to you were predictable. is, didestion to you you then review with the lawyers of your department, if you as a top lawyer are unaware what the law is regarding what you can share with us and what you cannot share with us, what is the blitz and what is not privileged? discussedsessions: we the basic parameters of testimony. i front have not discussed documentary disclosure rules. >> will you make a commitment to
this committee that you will share any written correspondence , be they are calendars, records, notes, emails or anything that has been reduced at any point in time to writing to this committee where legally you have an obligation to do so? atty gen. sessions: i will commit to reviewing the rules of the department and when that issue is raised, to respond appropriately. do have any communications with russian officials for any reason during the campaign that have not been disclosed in public or to this committee? i don't. sessions: recall 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. >> to your knowledge, did you have any communication with any russian business in or any russian nationals? atty gen. sessions: i don't believe i had any conversation
with russian businessmen or russian nationals, although a lot of people were at the convention. it's conceivable that somebody -- will you let me qualify it? if you don't -- final qualify, you will accuse me of lying. i 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 communications with other trump campaign officials and associates that they had with russian officials or any russian nationals? atty gen. sessions: i don't recall that. at-- atty gen. sessions: this moment. >> are you aware of any communications with any trump officials or did you have any communications with any officials about russia or russian interest in the united states before january 20? atty gen. sessions: no, i may have had some conversations and i think i did, with it general
strategic concept of the possibility of whether or not russia and the united states could get on a more harmonious relationship and move off the hostility. the soviet union did in fact collapse. it's really a tragic strategic event that we are not able to get along better. >> before being sworn in as attorney general, how did you typically communicate with then candidate trop? -- candidate trump? i did notsessions: commit memoranda, i did not make formal presentations. >> did you ever communicate with him in writing? atty gen. sessions: i don't believe so. >> you referred to a long-standing doj policy. can you tell us what policy it is you are talking about? i think mostsions:
cabinet people, as the witnesses you had before you earlier, those individuals declined to comment, because we are all about conversations with the -- is a long-standing policy that goes beyond just the attorney general. >> is that policy in writing somewhere? so. gen. sessions: i think >> did you not consulted before you came before this committee, knowing we would ask you questions about it? did you ask that it be shown to you? atty gen. sessions: the policy is based on the principle that the president -- about the asking principle. you would rely on that policy, did you not ask his staff to show you the policy that would be the basis for your refusing to answer the questions being asked of you? >> the senators will allow the chair to control the hearing. senator harris, let him answer. atty gen. sessions: we talked about it, and we talked about
the real principle that is at stake is one that i have some appreciation for, having spent 15 years in the department of justice, 12 as united states attorney. that principle is that the constitution provides the head of the executive branch certain ,rivileges, and that members one of them is confidentiality of communications. anys improper for agents of department in the executive branch to waive that privilege without clear approval of the president. and that is the situation we are in. >> i was asking for a yes or no. >> your time has expired. >> attorney general sessions, former director comey in his letter to fbi employees when he
was terminated started this way. he said i have long believed that a president can fire an fbi director for any reason, or no reason at all. do you agree with that? atty gen. sessions: 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, discipline, with integrity and proven judgment, that would be good for the bureau, and i think that statement probably was a valuable thing for director comey to say, and i appreciate that he did. atty gen. sessions: just to -- to reiterate the timeline of your recusal and the rosenstein memo and your recommendation of the termination of director comey. you were recused from the russian investigation on march 2, correct? formaln. sessions: the recusal took on that date. >> the letter you wrote
forwarding the rosenstein memo to the president as a basis for director comey's termination was dated may 9, a couple months after you had recused from the russian investigation, correct? i believesessions: that's correct. quick so isn't it true that the russian investigation did not factor into the -- a recommendation to fire director comey? atty gen. sessions: that is correct. >> the memorandum written by the deputy attorney general, your letter to the president forwarding that recommendation did not mention russia at all. is that your recollection? atty gen. sessions: that is correct. quick so let's review what the deputy attorney general rosenstein's recommendation. he wrote in his memo on may 9, you said i cannot end the director's handling of the conclusion of the investigation
of secretary clinton's emails, and i do not understand his -- refusal to accept the nearly universal judgment that he was mistaken. of course he is talking about director comey. he went on to say the director the attorneyusurp general's authority on july 5, 2016. you recall that was the date of the press conference he held. he went on to say that the fbi director is never empowered to supplant federal prosecutors and assumed command of the justice department. finally, he said compounding the error, the director ignored another long-standing principle. we do not hold press conferences to release derogatory information about the subject of a declined criminal investigation. fact, there is written policy from the department of justice, is there not, entitled
election-year sensitivities. are you familiar with the prohibition of the justice department making announcements or taking other actions that might interfere with the normal elections? atty gen. sessions: i am generally familiar with that. there has always been rules about it. let me read just the next circle eight memo from the attorney general, march 9, 2012, entitled election-year sensitivities. it says law enforcement officers and prosecutors may never select the timing of investigative steps are criminal charges for the purpose of effecting -- affecting any election or for the purpose of giving an advantage or disadvantage to any candidate or political party. such a purpose is inconsistent with the departments mission and with the principles of federal
prosecution. do you agree with that? atty gen. sessions: essentially, yes. quick so essentially what the deputy attorney general said is eyat former director com violated department of justice directives when he held a press conference on july 5 -- july 5, 2016. he announced that secretary clinton was extremely careless with classified email and went on to release other derogatory information, including his conclusion that she was extremely careless. but yet went on to say that no reasonable prosecutor would prosecute her. that is not the role of the fbi director, is it? that is the job for the prosecutors at the department of justice. that is what is meant by deputy attorney general rosenstein when he said that director comey usurp the role of the department of justice prosecutors, is that
right? that is. sessions: correct, and former attorney general bill barr wrote an op-ed recently in which he said he had assumed that attorney general toch had urged mr. comey make this announcement so she wouldn't have to do it. but in fact, it appears he did it without her approval totally, and that is a pretty stunning thing, it is a stunning thing and it violates fundamental powers, and then when he rightness heat the believed of his decision on may 3, i think it was, that was additional confirmation that the director's thinking was not clear. >> first, a point, the issue of
long-standing rules, if there are written rules to this effect, would you provide them to the committee? atty gen. sessions: i will. >> thank you very much. senator cornyn has made the point that the whole substance of your recommendation to the president to dismiss director comey was his unprofessional conduct with respect to the clinton administration -- the clinton investigation, is that correct? supportedsessions: i everything the deputy attorney general putting his memorandum factors toimportant use in determining whether or he had conducted himself in a way that justify continuing in office. i think it pretty well speaks for itself and i believe most of it did deal with that. the discussion about his a bipartisanas discussion. it began during the election time. democrats were very unhappy about the way he conducted
retrospect, in looking at it, i think it was more egregious than i may have even understood at the time. off.don't want to cut you madely 7 when mr. comey his first announcement about the case, you were on fox news and you said, first of all, director skilled former prosecutor. you concluded by saying essentially that it's not his problem, it is hillary clinton's problem. then in november, november 6, after mr. comey again made news in late october by reopening, if you will, the investigation, you said again on fox news, you know, fbi director comey did the right thing when it down you evidence. he had no choice but reported to the american congress.
the investigation was -- i'm sure it significant or else he would not have announced that. november, and director comey was doing exactly the right thing, you had no criticism of him p review felt that in fact he was a skilled professional prosecutor. you felt that his last statement in october was fully justified. so how can you go from those statements to agreeing with mr. rosenstein and then asking the president for -- or recommending that he be fired? i think inessions: retrospect, as all of us begin to look at that clearly and talk as perspectives of the department of justice, once the director first got involved and embroiled in a public discussion of this investigation, which
would've been better never to have been discussed publicly, , thenstead it was over when he found new evidence that came up, i think he probably was required to tell congress that it wasn't over, that new evidence had been developed. it probably would've been better , it would've have been consistent with the rules of the department of justice to never have talked about the investigation to begin with. once you go down that road, that's the kind of thing that you get into that went against classical prosecuting policy that i learned and was taught when i was the united states attorney and uses the -- assistant united states attorney. greg sure whole premise in recommending to the president was the actions in october involving secretary of state clinton, the whole clinton controversy.
did you feel misled when the president announced that his real reason for dismissing mr. comey was the russian investigation? atty gen. sessions: i'm not able to characterize that. i wouldn't try to comment on that. thatyou had no inkling there was anything to do with russia until the president of the united states basically declared it, not only on tv, but , to theval office russian foreign minister, saying the pressure is off now, i got rid of that nut job. they came to you as a complete surprise? atty gen. sessions: all i can say is that our recommendation was put in writing and i believe it was correct. i believe the president valued it, but how he made his decision was his -- >> you had no inkling that he was considering the russian investigation? atty gen. sessions: i'm not
going to try to guess. >> there is a scenario in which recapitulation to clinton was a story, basically, a cover story the president tried to put out and then quickly abandoned and his real reason was the russian i assume inn which principle you would have recused yourself from any involvement. thank you. >> over the last few weeks, the administration has characterized your previously undisclosed meetings with russian ambassador took as a member of the senate armed services committee. as chairman of that committee, let me ask you if you weston's
about that. at these meetings, did you raise concerns about russian invasion of ukraine are annexation of crimea? did,gen. sessions: i senator mccain, and i would like to follow up on that a little bit here and that's one of the issues that i recall explicitly, the day before my meeting with the russian ambassador, i had with the ukrainian ambassador, and i heard his concerns about russia. and so i raised those with mr. gave not onehe inch. everything the russians had done according to him was correct, and i remember pushing back on it and it was a bit testy on that subject. >> knowing you were on the committee, i cannot imagine that. did you raise concerns about russia's support for president -- are al-assad and his campaign of indiscriminate violence against his own citizens, including his use of chemical weapons?
atty gen. sessions: i don't recall it that was discussed are not. >> did you raise concerns on interfering with the electoral process of our allies? atty gen. sessions: i don't recall that being discussed. makes you presumably talked about russia related security issues that you have demonstrated as important to you as a member of the committee. atty gen. sessions: did i discuss security? >> i don't recall you as being particularly vocal on such issues. atty gen. sessions: repeat that, senator mccain, i'm sorry. >> the whole russia related security issue you demonstrated as a orton to you as a member of the community -- of the committee. did you raise those with him? words, russian related security issues come in your capacity as the chairman of the
strategic forces subcommittee, what russia related security issues did you hold hearings on or otherwise demonstrated keen interest in? atty gen. sessions: i just on have a real recall of the meeting. i was not making a report about it to anyone. i just was basically willing to meet and see what we discussed. >> and his response was? atty gen. sessions: i don't the 2016ry >> during campaign season, did you have any contacts with any representative, including any american lobbyist or agent of any russian company outside your capacity as a member of congress or the armed services committee? atty gen. sessions: i don't believe so. >> lydia ko reported the at found that russian diplomats
whose travel the state department was supposed to track had gone missing. some turned up wandering around desert or driving around kansas. after about a year of inattention these movements indicate that moscow's sb nagy ground game has grown stronger and more brazen than that quietly the kremlin has been trying to map the united takes telecommunications infrastructure. what do you know about this development and how the justice department and other relevant u.s. government agencies are responding to it? atty. gen. sessions: we need to do more, senator mccain. i am worried about it. and i see that other nations with these kinds of technological skills like china and other nations penetrating our business interests, our national-security interests. as a member of the armed services committee, i did support and advocate, and i think you supported, legislation
-- and its ongoing now -- that requires the defense department to identify weaknesses in our system and how we can fix them. but i would say to you, senator mccain, that in my short tenure here in the department of justice, i have been more concerned about computer hacking than i was inues the senate. it is an important issue. you are correct. sen. mccain: " washington post" reported yesterday that russia has developed a cyber weapon that can disrupt telecommunications infrastructure. this is similar to what russia and russian-allied hackers used to disrupt the ukraine electrical grid in 2015. can you discuss in open session how serious that is? atty. gen. sessions: i don't believe i can discuss the technological issues. just to say that it is very disturbing that the russians actions to push hostile
in their foreign policy. it is not good for the united states or the world or russia, in my opinion. sen. mccain: do we have a strategy in order to counter these ever-increasing threats to our national security and our way of life? atty. gen. sessions: not sufficient. we do not have a sufficient strategy dealing with technological and i.t. at duration -- penetrations of our system. i truly believe it is more important than i ever did before, and i appreciate your concern and leadership on that issue from an effect, all of congress is going to have to do better. sen. burr: senators time has expired. chair will recognize the vice chair o. sen. warner: thank you, mr. chairman. i appreciate your last comments
with senator mccain about the seriousness of this threat, and it is many of us on -- it is why many of us on the committee are concerned that on the question of russian intervention, the president continues to refer to it as fake news, and there is not recognition of the seriousness of this thread. i share the consensus that the russians massively interfered and eight want to continue to interfere not to favor one party or another, but to favor their own interests. it is an and him is we have to hear from the administration how they are going to take that on. comments have been made here had in terms of who mayp associates have had contacts with russians. we have not gotten to all of that yet because of the president firing of the fbi director -- the unprecedented fbi director that was leading this very same russia investigation, superseded
some of our activities. those members i hope will equally pursue the very , atbling amount of smoke least from that is out there between individuals that were affiliated with the trump campaign and possible ties with russia. i'm not reaching any conclusions. we have got to pursue that. final comment, and i understand your point, but a series of comments made by mr. last week .- by mr. comey last week members on the side of the aisle said understand executive privilege and classified setting. indicated, and senator harris and others, if there are these long-standing written procedures about the ability to have some other category to protect the conversations with the president, we would like to get a look at them, because we need to find out in light of some of the contradictions between today and last week where this all heads.
at the end of the day -- restating what i said last time -- this is not about relitigating 2016. this is about finding out what happened and the serious allegations about potential ties . but on a going-forward basis, making sure that the russians, who are not finished in terms of know ittivities -- we is ongoing and we have to be better prepared on a going-forward basis. thank you, mr. chairman. sen. burr: thank you, vice chairman. atty. gen. sessions: one brief comment. a change to say that at the top of the fbi should have no impact whatsoever on the investigation. those teams have been working and they will continue to work and the have not been altered in any way -- sen. warner: but there were a number of very strange comments that mr. comey testified last week that you could have shed some light on good but we will continue. sessions,,general
thank you again for your willingness to be here. not sure if you knew it, but your replacement set here most of this hearing, luther strange. he's made us regret that we don't have the intramural basketball team. [laughter] atty. gen. sessions: big luther is a good round ballplayer. asked ar: you have been wide range of questions, and i think you have answered things related to claims about the meeting at the mayflower. you have answered questions that surround the reasons of your crucial and the fact that you had never been briefed since day one on the investigation, and you made clear that you can't think of any other conversations that you have had with russian officials. you have covered in detail the conversation that you had, though brief, with director comey that he referenced to
after his private meeting with the president, just to name a few things that i think you have helped us clear up. there were several questions that you chose not to answer because of confidentiality with the president. to god only ask you now back and work with the white house to see if there are any or questions that they feel comfortable with you answering, and if they do, that you provide us answers in writing to the committee. if i didn'temiss remind you that those documents that you can provide for the committee would be helpful to us for the purposes of sorting timelines out, anything that substantiates your testimony today, individuals who might have been that you are familiar with, especially those who work for you, would be extremely helpful. more importantly, i want to thank you for your agreement to have continuing dialogue with us
as we might need to ask additional questions as we go a little bit further down the investigation. that certainly does not have to be a public hearing, but it may be a next change and a dialogue -- an exchange and a dialogue. you have helped us to mislead and we are grateful to you and mary for the unbelievable sacrifice -- helped us tremendously and we are grateful to you and mary for the unbelievable sacrifice you have made in this and ministers in. this hearing is now adjourned. ulia: i was attorney general jeff sessions answering questions from the senate intelligence committee about the russian probe into the u.s. election and the firing of former fbi director james comey, and i will start with the russian investigation. he was pretty stringent in his responses here. he said that any accusation that there was collusion with russia appallinglous and an and detestable life, and he says if there was an improper illegal relationship and effort to