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tv   News Sessions Senate Testimony  FOX News  June 13, 2017 11:00am-2:08pm PDT

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that. we'll have complete special coverage of the attorney general, jeff sessions starting right now. they should join us. >> by. >> bill: thank you. it is a white-hot spotlight will waiting the attorney general, jeff sessions. the senate intelligence committee gearing up for the first time in five days, and minutes, the top prosecutor will give is you and all things russian. how much will he cover? how much of the private conversation with the president. deny? all that awaits us. as you listen to his testimony at what he says and does not say could be highly considered significant. good afternoon today. special coverage today. i bill hemmer on the "america's newsroom hq," afternoon version. and here is also >> shannon: 87. >> shannon: this is also more explosive testimony. a lot at stake. about 30 minutes from now.
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senator james lankford giving us an idea of what his questions will be in the america's newsroom. >> acquisition has been the that any time he met went, was without a room with him, passed by a russian leader or russian investor, that should be brought in for questioning. quite frankly, is a little absurd if there's any absurd or passing. was there any complaining or collusion. obviously that is a legitimate issue. was any passing conversation? centers have passing conversations with people all the time. what was his role in the firing of james comey? was there any russian connection directly? as an obvious question. the departure of james comey. spewing pretty good preview right there. bret baier, charles krauthammer standby in washington, d.c. >> shannon: right out here in new york. we are to begin with chief intelligence correspond to comic cap inheritance. thank you kevin. that less humans, jacobson has
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confirmed that that can club a law school professor who act as an intermediary between games, your tender times reporter providing information from the documents providing his debbie into a trap to us as what is relevant material to the counselor, robert miller. we have today from rod rosenstein, we have a line of questioning, in particular, what were the nature of senator sessions at the time? the connection with the russians? do those contacts go beyond meetings in september of 2016, and what is his role, as center langford asked, and was or any kind of connection with the russian investigation? the most noticeably today on the hill, we have a lot of questions about media reports concerning the special counsel, and whether
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the president could fire robert muller at will, and here is critical exchange between the senders and the deputy attorney general? >> president trump ordered you to fire the special counsel, what would you do? >> cedric, i will not follow any orders unless i believe those are lost on appropriate orders. under regulation, robert mueller might only be five for good cause. >> there is no cause. >> that's great. >> is it fair to put that to rest? >> as far as i'm concerned, yes senator. i appointed him. i stand by that decision. i think was the right thing to do under that circumstance. i'm going to defend the integrity of that investigation. speed it were to go back to the breaking news of the top of the show about the club your law school professor providing what was described as relevant material. that has been a real sticking point at capitol hill, and especially the panel binding. they want to have independent access to those memos, and they
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have not been able to get that so far, shannon. >> shannon: that is a critical find initial saga today. katherine left for us today. thank you so much. >> thank you. >> bill: bret baier, charles krauthammer. gentlemen thank you. doctor, let's start with you. what session challenges today? >> his challenge is to come out unscathed. it's really a sight of a sideshow. i thought we'd restart by investigating the russian meddling in the election, then we ended up in collusion, or allege collusion, by the trump people and then the james comey testimony, and now we are a tributary of that. i think the one question you have to ask him is, was there a third meeting with the russians? that is what came out or at least from the close session that james only had. if so, that could be a problem.
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if not, the next question is, what was james comey referring to when he said, i did not speak to the attorney general, as he should have. about what he considered pressure from the president, because he knew he would be recusing himself, because of matters i cannot speak about an open session. now that is either very sly form of character assassination or there is something there. the question to sessions is, what is it that comey was referring to that was underlining your recruiters re. those are the questions that he needs to be asked. >> bill: this comes together quickly. only five days ago, james comey was in the same hearing room. jeff sessions really has something to say today. you take that question. what's the challenge? >> one is that the attorney general has decided to do this publicly.
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not behind closed doors, but to do this in public testimony, and that suggests that you must to tell his side of the story. i would say in front of the american people. the last time we saw him testify back in january, and that cause controversy. these meetings with the russian ambassador, sergey kislyak, were not disclosed. they were instructed that his meetings with russian ambassadors and any ambassadors as senator went out to be included. of course, in this context, everything factors in. the challenge is, answer all the questions faithfully, legally, and truthfully. to not step in it when it comes to being the age of this administration. that's under fire. >> bill: i circled for dates in the calendar, valentine's day, does all the oval office meeting. february 16th, jeff sessions sits down with the president at the white house. mark second, he accuses himself
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of all matters russian. move that the president did not like. on the ninth of may, you have the termination of james comey. with that as a two and a half calendar, where we had today, chris? >> we deftly might hear about whether he concurs with comey's account with him leaving the oval office so he could have a word with the former fbi, then fbi director. as one moment that jeff sessions will have to choose. does he say, i am rick cruised and there is an investigation going, so no thanks. or does he say, yes or no. does he corroborate the present or comey's version. and you know, the president is watching, and he has made no secret of his displeasure with his attorney general. if you can make today a reasonable expedition as to why he recused himself, nobody in washington thought otherwise that he could really do anything
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but recuse himself. he was a part of the campaign, so we can be part of the investigation. that's a no-brainer. that people have told the president though, that he has to make a case to his bus, that he made the right thing. i made the sensible thing to admit i did the legal thing. >> shannon: chris, chanting here, do you think he can convince his boss that he can benefit him in some way. at the end of the day, if you had overseen this investigation, it proves the president is completely clear of any charges of any collusion. there may have still been a shadow over that investigation that the attorney general jeff sessions who conducted it versus somebody, like the special counsel? >> exactly. he could not have done. it was not in the position that he is going to be able to do this, and i don't think there is much secret that most folks in washington assume he will step aside eventually, and this is something he was going to need to do. the big question becomes, can the president hear that. is it possible for him to hear
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and understand? especially when they are loud voices in his ear, telling him, no, he should never have resigned. it is all his fault. all of this is his fault. this is all jeff sessions' fault. none of it is yours, boss. he did the wrong thing. that's a tough spot to be in, as a cabinet member. >> shannon: stick around with us. we need to pack it with you. we got last week something unusual from capitol hill. if there is any good meat and an opening statement, we usually do not get it until they sit on. we usually get the more boring, routine statement i had time. getting game james comey's bom, it gave us a lot of time to mull it over. we don't have that with the attorney general. waiting go say? >> i think you're right. we have a very dramatic writing of director comey, and all the description of all those meetings. one by one. we do not have that. i think that he's going to answer the questions that
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attorney general jeff sessions says. most people believe he has to recuse himself, but there was some small group as you look at marine one there. landed by air force one. there's a small group ear that is suggesting to the present that loudly in his ear, that jeff sessions should not have recused himself and should be in a special counsel. we heard in the testimony from the former fbi director, that comey believes that by leaking after he saw the tweet, he said in testimony, after he saw the tweet about the tapes that the president said possibly existed. call comey leaked the memos to his friend to spare on a special counsel. i'm say, there were leaks that happened before that. a couple of "the new york times" were very specific based on that same meeting right. i think it was a disconnect here and whether jeff sessions should or shouldn't of recused himself,
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and the people around the president are saying. >> shannon: and his bret baier meant reference a pair we're looking at fort andrews, where the visit will be departing to wisconsin to talk about, what he wants to talk about this week, which is jobs, but charles, the fact is, as i see things are going on, it is time the president to refocus the narrative in the public mind. >> that is true. all of us remember from the excitement of infrastructure week, last week. it seized the country into a forward-looking vision. that got completely wiped out, as everybody knows. there's nobody anything will penetrate the fog of this investigation. let's be honest, the drama. these hearings are dramatic -- the most dramatic i guess from oliver noah, which is 30 years ago. this attracts all the attention. you really have to ask yourself, just measured the distance between our hearings today, and how may times did you meet with
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the russian ambassador, and what was supposed to be the original issue. russian meddling in this election. about which every democratic senator in the hearings last week was unbelievably sanctimonious, as if the future of the republic hanged on it. they are barely interested in it at all. this is a battering ram for attacking this president, and now, i think they've come to the conclusion. it is good to be very hard to find the collusion aspect. so now it is all about obstruction. it's all about the cover-up, and supposedly, the action of a crime. i think the agenda is wiped out. the president has no chance to get beyond it. i think the best strategy for him is to ignore it. if he had completely ignored this issue from the beginning,
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and years as he believes in as the fbi director told him not the target of the investigation, then what was he doing engaging in the twitter wars and the scrambles and the firings, which is what ignited this. that's the great irony. if he has done nothing, there would not be allowed to talk about. >> bill: jeff sessions, charles, has an opportunity. he had the opportunity to clarify a lot. it has been reported on, theorized and speculated about for months now. this is his opportunity to do that. you see the present get on board on air force one going to watch wisconsin, west douglas got back deck market. he did a very interesting comment. he said the white house is no realize that it will not be parallel paths, because you have the white house pushing the agenda, while at the same time, there can have this ongoing
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battle on congress but all matters russia. certainly, the media is going to stay on the story as well. as we watch dog transfer there from a bucket trunk, the message will be the economy, and we follow that. silver other counties, connecting the colleagues. hit memory of going to the dining room and two people sitting up at one of them was senator dianne feinstein, the other one was the russian investor, who is at the center of so much of this today. judge, ask you this. the formal attorney general, michael mukasey, and he lay down, you have to decide what the definition of a meeting is. he believes that there was only one meeting with jeff sessions and the russian investor. the others were i had chicken holo. that was pretty much that.
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james comey in a private section talk about the possibility of a third meeting. we have not heard about. how then do you tell the senators today, in a matter of moments, the context of your conversation, how long it lasted, i didn't mean you are acting as a trump campaign surrogate or as a u.s. sinner? >> that is one of the tasks of the bill. attorney general sessions has. if you quickly pass through an reception line and shake somebody's hand come and say hello, nice to see them, is that the type of meeting referred to in the inquiry that senator senator franken put you then senator jeff sessions. is it the type of meeting in the senate judiciary committee, which then jeff sessions stated differently, was there an honest, misunderstanding on the part of jeff sessions of what
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was being asked about? i believe, and i think most of our colleagues do, these meetings were routine, mundane, and inaccurate nests. the question is where they truly discussed and revealed where he was under oath. in 20 minutes, 50 mins, we are going to have a spectacle of us sitting attorney general of the united states. a former united states senator being accused by some of his former colleagues, democrats, of having perjured himself in another environment when he was a united states senator. unheard of and almost thinkable. that is the first thing he has to resist before he even gets to the reasons for which he's there, which is to adjust the comey testimony last week. >> shannon: all right, judge. martha, i want to bring you in. you are in that room last week at the senate intelligence committee were doing the comey hearing. you know the atmosphere, what it's like to walk in. you have dozens of cameras in your face.
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the attorney general has been on the other side of the bench there, because he has been a senator asking these questions. what do you expect to see play out today, because you were there with a front row seat? >> absolutely. at the end of the day, this idea to have it jeff sessions to testify in an open situation is either going to be a huge mistake or a great idea. okay? it's can be one way or the other. remember, this is the first time we are hearing from anyone in the administration about their side of this entire story. you have jared kushner, who is also going to be speaking of to the midi about background. bony think about the decision to do this in open session, we talked about last night, they open the door now and so if others decide not to do this in open session, why not? the attorney general was willing to do that, why not you? if they want to put this completely in its own pocket and
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say, that's going on. in the meanwhile, we are in wisconsin talking about jobs. we are about repealing in the placing obamacare. 30 bald dundas in a closed session. this is a very big moment to say, and he is can be asked to clear up thing for the comey hearing that her last week. did you? were you always going to recuse yourself? were you always going to do that? what is this third meeting thing? those are sort of specific things that need to be addressed. but the big thing here. if you're a member of the campaign, was there any collusion? did you ever discuss anything with anyone in the russian group that would suggest that the trump campaign wanted to coordinate any effort against heather klein? that is why we are all here for, right? that's what we want to know the answer to. be very interesting to see, and we would love to see a senator grandstand, and you'll see a lot of sap i begin to get to the heart of the issue, or will be all about, you should
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not have this meeting on your form. it turns out, at the meeting with a handshake, and it was a meeting in your mind. how much of this is going to be at the heart of the matter, collusion, and now as charles mentions, obstruction of justice, which is there hanging their hat on now, and how it must've taken to make jeff sessions look bad and we are about to find out. >> bill: uriel reck and i some of the names and faces here. richard burns, chairman of this committee. they will begin with 10 minutes opening statements followed by question-and-answer period each committee member gets about 5 minutes to file that. last week was seven. i don't know why they reduce the time, but they have for now. dinner? jeff session paulas knows these people very well. >> remember his confirmation
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hearing. an x-ray showed him to be extreme a capable and he knows the members very well. they have a personal relationship especially in the senate side. then the lottery especially the last three years. he is extremely experienced and confident when speaking in front of big groups when it comes to eat legal issues. forget that he served on the state level and has been a prosecutor. so, they're all these things coming into play. i also think that the senate intelligence committee did something last week that we haven't seen on capitol hill in a long while. they held a very tight hearing. they reduce the time now just because it is later in the afternoon. everybody wants to finish up by 5:00. they also had some bipartisanship last week. every member of the senate, republican and democrat, it seemed to agree that yes, in the big picture, russia did try to interfere in our election. there is nothing about collusion, as martha was just sane, that is the reason we're here today, but this morning, you see the story that russia
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did try to infiltrate 39 different states. in order to try to get on voter role. they weren't successful, but this also comes on the heels of just last night. bipartisan agreement on the senate that they are going to try to move forward russian sanctions. there is some bipartisan agreement. there is an ability for the attorney general of all of america to be concerned. >> bill: to put if fine point in that. richard burns asked james comey under oath if russia was able to change any votes. his answer was, no. there is no evidence of that. to everybody stand by, were going to squeeze a quick commercial here. then we will get to the action there. >> shannon: at this schedule hold on hell, we are less than 10 minutes from this hearing. attorney general, jeff sessions testifying before his colleagues on the senate intelligence committee. all about the russia investigation. a special coverage in minutes. ♪
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combined with the most wifi hotspots. it's a new kind of network. xfinity mobile. ♪ >> bill: a minute before 2:30 in the afternoon, and moments away before rod attorney gener, jeff sessions. there is lots of work before last couple days. various work from the cameras and plenty of cameras and photographers as well. as he mentioned, there is another story and to help deals with reporters. trying that on the hill entered chemical producer, chad, what do we need to know now? >> a lot of questions now what happens for a limited choice on the good. this is the official rulebook which the radio tv group controls hereto gives out to reporters. most of it in that book, bill,
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deal with how you're supposed to go about to be coverage. supposedly, you're supposed to get support from the sender if you are to interview them in the hall. it is been a long-standing president that that's not how things go. this morning, one of the gallery directors, went to some of reporters attending the hearing with rod rosenstein, the deputy attorney general, and said, we cannot do that. we have a little bit of evolution the story over the past couple minutes. i just got off the phone over rules source that says that the interpretation of that was an overreaction. senator richard shelby, the chairman of the rules. a republican from alabama has put out a statement saying that we are going to go back to the old way. we haven't made any changes. what they are saying now is that there's an old existing rules committee rule that says you have to go to the rules committee, and you have to get the permission of the sender before you interview them on the capitol grounds. i just last night, i was sitting
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outside the capital and it senate side. there's a roll call going on outside, and i wanted to talk to the senator from louisiana and kentucky about the state in play of health care. technically, i could not have done that that we had a knack on the approval of those senator pull us ahead of time. there was one senator, from tennessee who is the chairman of the health committee. i wanted to talk to him, he said no. so we did not talk to him. that said though, i would have to go to the rules committee first. this is what gotten reporters here on capitol hill absolutely perplexed about it. they see this as another layer of bureaucracy. you see it, works two ways. rules and precedents. reporters are saying that the president, even though that is a letter of the law, it is not what is going on when it comes to interviewing people. it's beyond the point is, at the halls are crowded, right? >> they've been very chronic special with this news environment, bill. dangerous at times, frankly. >> bill: thank you. back to the hill on that in a
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moment. chana? >> shannon: i could not get asking for permission. we'll see how that works out. for now, let's go back to our panel in d.c. and talk to charles krauthammer. doctor, you are trained psychiatrist. lead people calling you on the couch right now in washington. was it due to the people, psychologically, when they have to move along with an agenda. we know that president moved with key senators. that is getting buried, attention all about russia, his administration, and democrats pointing fingers. and saying they are going to find something. >> the best way to answer it is not using psychiatric expertise but legal expertise. if not so much the psychology of what it does. it's a fact that you have people working in the white house. many of whom are just starting out in careers, have never had a job like that at such a high level, and they have to get lawyers. they have to be afraid of everything they say. that's the record what they do.
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they watch comey, and think, he is a guy that records every meeting, so he can still get away it in a box to exonerate himself. you have an atmosphere of siege. that has to do with environment in which everything can be used against you. it's harder for a staffer in the white house with a lot of issues going on and internal conflicts, which are normal and usual, but to add onto this, and you have a paralysis where people are not going to step out. they're going to be very afraid. they'd will not trust their other colleagues, and that i think makes it very hard. apart from the fact that the media looking elsewhere. the congress cannot function under the right circumstances. apart from all that, the internal dynamics, and with demonstration. i think what's going on right now.
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do a lot of the discussion over the past two days have been about the legal dangers for jeff sessions. that's true. you are under oath. you take questions, you are going to give answers. we will see how far in debt that goes. there is another way of looking at this. jeff sessions is an opportunity here to clear the air. i am told, he will truly want to do this. it was at the urging of the commander in chief, but it was jeff sessions over the weekend and the letter they wrote from the department of justice to go ahead and do this. if that is the case, this is an opportun on offense and clear things up. >> that's right, bill. i think the attorney general wants to get that word out there. obviously, we have word that he offered his resignation to the president after what was a lot of angst about this recruit so doing to make a recusal. and how many he exerts executive
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privilege on the specific questions with the president. i think those will be the back an end a dance we see between the committee and the speed aty general. i think it's unique. this intelligence committee. and 2017, they have had more open hearings, ten, then they did in all of 2015 and 2016 combined. obviously, this has to do with this before. in the background here, you have so much going on, bill. give north korea. you have qatar in the middle is. you have the afghanistan policy not working. you have syria strike against isis. you have raqqa you have the president try to change the policy of iq but this week. you have obamacare hanging in the balance in the senate and tax reform, basically hanging on a thread in congress. all of this going on as gallup
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has the president's disapproval rating at 60%. trump supporters will say those are fake polls. he did not have pulls ahead of time, and he won. but this is a daily tracking poll, and has been skewing the other way and gallup. >> bill: it is only june 13th. wow dana, spending years in washington, you know that now jeff sessions. i got to know him as a senator on the hill. he is a guy that comes across as a southern gentleman. he has a good drawl. he is very kind, gregarious with reporters and everything else. the fact is, he has a highly intelligent very experienced prosecutor and attorney. facing people that he has been colleagues with, there are questions whether he would potentially talk about executive privilege. white house left the door open. what version do you think will get under that intense questioning?
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>> i don't think you will get any acting award from him. he is very cool under pressure. you can imagine a day like today in new york city when it is 97 degrees, he would be in a suit and not break us way. i would not worry about that. i also think as i saw last week with james comey a lot of these people in the room, the senders know them. they've been around him for a long time. it's harder to be caustic or rude to somebody that you actually know that you may have done business within the past. to bret baier's point. there's so much happening. in the middle of all these things, that habit in a foreign policy level. jeff sessions, the attorney general, is moving quite quickly to change policy that are controversial and this is probably not the hearing for those types of hearings, but as the budget moves forward and he put the stamp on some of the policies, there can be additional questions to that. i would add that as the media,
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we are allowed to focus on this russian investigation. the senate republicans are moving forward on the health care bill. i think that is very possible that they will get that vote before the fourth of july, and democrats are absolutely seating so much policy ground and not talking about that while that moves forward, they will be blindsided. you can see the president signing some major, significant legislation by labor day. then, he will be off to the races. >> bill: martha, we're watching watching the senators gallery. but there are no senators in the room. they are not in their chairs, and jeff sessions has not been seen in person yet. we will wait a little bit and that develops. you think about the relationship between jeff sessions and donald trump. he was the first senator to back his campaign. i remember watching in the summer of 2015, rally on friday night in alabama. jeff sessions was the guy in the red, make america great again hat who introduced donald trump. the place went crazy.
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these people together, i see marco rubio in the room. we start to add this up as senators get to the chairs. you think about that now. the relationship that these two men had in the early part of the campaign, and people did not think it would be successful. >> such a great point. when you go back to that day and think about the legitimacy of the jeff sessions brought to the campaign at a time when he sort of align his star to anyone on that big stage and wanted to get the republican nomination, jeff sessions, obviously they saw the eye to eye on immigration. the border was something that brought these to come men together. shanna was just pointing out that he is a southern gentleman and a brash new yorker. they found a way to work together those very instrumental in the course of this campaign. i also know that in recent weeks, there has been a little bit of friction between these two men because jeff sessions
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thought he would recuse himself from the investigation. anything regarding the investigation into russia. as you also heard before, that may be because he was connected to the campaign, it was never possible for him to be a part of this. it would've been helpful perhaps for that to be laid out on the onset. instead it was such an epic decision for him to recuse himself, and of course, that was a series of events that was brought onto a special counsel. these men have had their ups and downs and most people close to president trump have. as he goes in there today, he is a hard bringer. the first of the administration to sit down and speak forcefully, we expect, about their side of the story. no doubt, his number one viewer is going to be president donald trump, who we know has a very big screen. he'll be at the white house watching everything. >> bill: at this point, on board air force one. >> there is a tv there too. >> shannon: let's take a back down to d.c. as we stand by.
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we see several of them arriving for waiting for the star witness. as we wait, we look at the members on the board, and we talk about that many of these are former colleagues of senator jeff sessions. others are newer to the game. i think the senator democrat out of california. he made some headlines last week by being very tough on attorney general. a lot of folks say, she is think about 2020. her star is on the rise, and she is one that could be one of the most combated in a combative questioners today. >> and remember in his confirmation hearings, senator cory booker, someone who is also mentioned for, 2020, he he testified against his colleagues confirmation as attorney general. there is enmity here. there's a view among democrats that jeff sessions is a radical. he has been called races.
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he has been called all of these things. they may feel some particular license to go beyond the boundaries of collegiality that would normally or decently negate something like that. at that, they may feel that they are allowed to go after you jeff sessions hard. it may be confessions to reassure her that he may not be able to reassure the people on the panel, that things are happening on a normal fashion. nobody is firing the special counsel. there's knocking to be up evil and fire and tomball. he got this. it's going to be okay. democrats and republicans alike would love to have that assurance today. >> bill: child, we think about last thursday morning, and often times as we point in this panel, members of congress don't often come prepared. sometimes they go on and on, and a filibuster, and drive you crazy sitting at home. however, i thought last thursday
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morning was a very different expanse. depending on your ideology, republican or democrat, whether you agree or disagree with james comey and the senators asking the question. i thought they were by and large very prepared. i thought we had a hearing that would fit the bill. those latter headlines and allow to build to it and i think there is significant payoff. we'll see how they react this time, but this is their chance, one could argue, for chapter two in this. five days later. >> chapter one was scripted very crisply, but in parties, the narrator is a born novelist. comey. he had all the stuff that he presented first law, he didn't read his statements. he didn't lose 20 minutes in that. he had everybody already abuzz with the stuff that was in the statement. i thought that was very smart stroke on his part. second, he appeared to be talking forthrightly, and he would drop here and there.
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some of it, i thought, was an innuendo. some of it was new news. but i had a great witness. the centers are bonded properly. very specific questions. i'm concerned that the opening statement that we are about to hear our 10 minutes long. the gettysburg address was considerably shorter, and i think these three judges read the statement, i don't think will shape up and they'll be able to measure up. ten minute statements are a long time. >> here's our understanding. richard burrell will start and then more will follow. it's all we have on that. >> jeff sessions may not be as open and folksy and novelistic as comey. i think he may send off a lot of questions by saying he is can't or that he won't, or that he is in no position to answer, which
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could make this a lot less sharp and a lot less crisp. we shall see together. >> bill: seven years old, thelma alabama. four months ago this past february 9th, he was sworn in as a attorney general. today, he has his opportunity to clear the air. mark order, democrat, richard burke, the republican. they are giving a hug to the individual in the front row. these two men, shannon, have been in lockstep literally. then try to present from the beginning a united front to figure out what went down with russia. if anything during this past election. >> shannon: and they get a lot of praise for the way the hearing rolled out last week with the former fbi director, the way it was done with a lot of control, and that it was done efficiently, it was very well-controlled. bret baier, i don't know if you're able to find an answer on this, but for how much they can squeeze this in, comey has these notes that he keeps after his meetings with donald trump. do you know why this committee
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did not hear those notes prior to last week's hearing so they could formulate questions? >> what they asked for them, and my understanding is that they are now in the process of getting these documents, but before the hearing, they did not have them. he just characterized the memos. you know, the whole thing was interesting about those notes. he didn't consider them his private material. even though they documented in conversations with the president of united states as he was fbi director. it was a fascinating question as you get ready for senator burr. >> bill: it was one of the many headlines last week. richard burr, north kelowna republican. >> attorney general jeff sessions. i and happy to have you here today. dedicated members of this body
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and recently your leadership at the department of justice. as i mentioned when director called me appeared before us last week, this committee's role is to build 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. a community is large and is a diverse place. we recognize the gravity of our investigation into russia's interference in the 2016 elections, but i remind her constituents that as we investigate russia, we scrutinize cia budget while we are investigating russia, we are still scrutinizing cia's budget, nsa, seven oh two program, our satellite program, and the entire ic effort to retain the best talent in the world. more often than not, the
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committee conducts its work behind closed doors. a necessary step to ensure that our most sensitive sources and methods are protected. the sanctity of the sources and methods are at the heart of the intelligence community ability to keep us safe. and to keep her allies safe from those who seek to harm us. i said were pillaging, i do not believe any committee -- anything that the committee does should be in public, but i also recognize the gravity of the committees need for the american people to be presented the facts, so that they may be able to make their own judgments. it is for that reason that this committee has now held its tenth open hearing of 2017. more than double that of the committee in recent years, and the fifth on the topic of russian interference.
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attorney general the jeff sessions, is your opportunity to separate fact from fiction. set the records that straight on a number of allegations. for example, there are several issues that i'm hoping we will address today. one, did you have any meetings with russian officials or proxies on behalf of the trump campaign during your time as attorney general. two, what was your involvement with candidate trumps foreign policy team, and what interactions with russians? three, why did you decide to recuse yourself from the russian investigation. fourth, what role, if any, did you have in the removal of then fbi director comey. i look forward to a candid and honest discussion did report sue the truth behind russians interference in the 2006 election. the committee's staff is interviewing the road bent parties, haven't spoken to over 35 individuals today.
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to include just yesterday, an interview with former homeland security director. we also continued to have some of the most sensitive information in our. as i said priestley, will separate the facts from rampant speculation, and lay them out for the american people to make their own judgment. only then will be as a nation be able to put this episode to rest and look to the future. i'm hopeful that members will focus that question pilots today on this before and not squander the opportunity by taking politl 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 remained a unified team with a dedicated, focus, and professional staff working tirelessly on behalf of the american people to find the
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truth. the committee has made much progress as the political winds blow forcefully around us, and 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 would now turn to the vice chairman for any remarks you may have. >> thank you mr. chairman. i also want to thank you for the way we are proceeding. mr. attorney general. it is good to see it. we appreciate your appearance on the heels of mr. comey's reviewing testimony last week. i do they want to take a moment of the onset and first expressed some concern with the process by which we are seeing you, the attorney general today. it is our understanding that you were originally scheduled to
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testify in front of the house and appropriations committee today. i know those appearances have been canceled to come here instead. while we appreciate your testimony before our committee, i believe, and i speak for many of my colleagues, you should answer questions of those committees and the judiciary committee as well. attorney general, it is my hope that you reschedule those appearances as soon as possible. in addition, i want to set the onset that while we consider your appearance today is just the beginning of our interaction with you and your department, mr. attorney general, we always expected to talk to about our investigation. we believed i later in the process. we are glad to accommodate your request to speak to us today, but we also expect to have your commitment to cooperate with all future requests and then make yourself available as necessary
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for this committee for as the chairman hasn't been mentioned, this important investigation. let's move to the subject of today's discussion. let's talk about the campaign. you were an early and ardent support of mr. trump. in march comey you are named chairman of the national security advisory committee. you're much more than a surrogate, your strategic advisor, who helped shape much of the campaign's national security strategy. no doubt, you will have key insight in some of the key trump associates that were seeking to hear from in the weeks ahead. questions have also been made about some of your own interactions with russian officials during the campaign. during her confirmation hearing, you said, you did not have medications with russian. senator patrick leahy later asked to come in writing, whether you had been in contact with anyone or any part with the russian government. you answered was a definitive
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no. despite the fact, despite that, the fact is as we discovered later, you did have interactions with russian government officials during the course of the campaign. in march, you acknowledged two meetings with the russian investor. yet, there is also been public reports of a possible third meeting at the mayflower hotel on april 27th. i hope today you will help clear up those discrepancies. we also expect and hope, this is a very important, that you will provide the committee with any documents that we need to shed light on this issue, such as emails or calendars. then, there's the subject of firing james comey. last thursday, we received testimony from mr. comey under oath. he outlined his troubling interaction with the president. as well as the circumstances of his firing. a few disturbing points do not.
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first, mr. comey, was decades of experience with the department of justice and fbi serving in the presence of both parties, he was so unnerved by the actions of the president, that fell, compelled to fully document every interaction they had. mr. comey sat where you are sitting today and testified that he was concerned that the president of the united states might lie about the nature of their meetings. that's a shocking statement from one of our nation's law enforcement officials. we also heard that director comey took it as a direction from the president that he is to drop the fbi's investigation into former national security advisor, michael flynn. we finally heard from mr. comey that we believed that he and conspired over the russian investigation paired the present also confirmed the statements with the media.
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this is deeply troubling for all of us who believable side of the aisle to preserve the independence of the fbi. we have a lot of work in order to follow up on these alarming disclosures. mr. attorney general, your testimony today is to begin the process of asking those questions. for instance again, i know others will ask about this, you recuse yourself from the russian investigation. you were in the process of tim's comey over that same investigation. we want to ask you about how you reviews your recruiters will and whether you complied fully. in addition, we heard from mr. coming last week that the present asked you to leave the oval office 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 view the presents request and whether it was appropriate. also, if the you are aware of
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any attempts of the president to undermine this very russian investigation. most important, 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. to date, he hasn't acknowledged the conclusions of the senate intelligence committee that russia messily intervened in our election. the threat we face is real. it's not limited to us. the recent events in france give us a stark reminder that all western democracies must take steps to protect itself. i believe the united states can and must be a leader in this, but it will require our administration to get serious about this matter. finally in the past several weeks, we have seen a concerning pattern of administration
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officials refusing to answer public unclassified questions about allegations about the president in this investigation. we had a hearing with the subject last week. i would recommend the chairman with the end of that hearing he made very clear that our witnesses -- it was not acceptable for them to come before without answers. the american people deserve to know what's going on here. i look forward to the witness' testimony. >> thank you vice chairman. attorney general jeff sessions. if you stand, i will administer the oath too. raise your right hand if you would, please. do solemnly swear to tell the truth the whole truth, nothing but the truth, to help you god. >> attorney general sessions: i will. >> please be seated. thank you attorney general jeff sessions. >> attorney general sessions: thank you very much for allowing me to publicly appear before your committee today. i appreciate the committees
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critical effort effort to investigate russian interference with our democratic processes. such interference can never be tolerated, and i encourage every effort to get to the bollard autumn of any allegations. as you know, the deputy attorney general has appointed a special counsel to musket the matters related to the russian interference in the 2016 election. i'm 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 enabled me to do so. an inconsistency to the practice, i cannot and will not violate my duty to protect the confidential communications i have with the president. let me addressed some issues directly. i did not have any private
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meetings nor do i recall any conversations with any russian officials at the mayflower hotel. i did not attend any meetings at that event separate prior to the speech i attended by the president today. 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 that free speech reception, i do not have any recollection with meetings talking to the russian ambassador or any other russian officials. with any brief interaction in passing with the russian ambassador, i do not remember. after the speech, i was interviewed by the news media. that was in area for that. in a different move, and then i left the hotel. whether i ever attended a reception, where the russian ambassador was present, is
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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 conversations with any russians or any foreign officials concerning any type of interference with any campaign or election in the united states. further, i have no knowledge of any such conversations by anyone connected to the trump campaign. i was your colleague in this body for 20 years, at least some of you. and the suggestion that i participated with any collusion, than i was aware of any collusion with the russian government to hurt this country, which i have served with honor for 35 years or to undermine the integrity of our democratic process, it's an appalling and
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detestable lie. relatedly, there is the assertion that i did not answer senator franken's question honestly at my confirmation hearing. colleagues, that is false. i can't say colleagues now. i'm no longer a part of this body, but a former colleague. that is false. this is what happened. senator franken asked me a rambling question after some six hours of testimony that included dramatic new allegations that the united states intelligence community, the u.s. intelligence committee had advised president-elect trunk gimmick trump, that there is a continuing exchange of information during the campaign between trump's surrogates and intermediaries for the russian government. i was taken aback by that explosive allegation, which he
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said was being reported as breaking news that very day, which i had not heard. i wanted to refute that immediately. any suggestion that i was part of some doing such an activity. i replied, "senator franken, i am not aware of any of those activities. i have been called a surrogate a time or to call in that campaign, and i did not -- did not have communication with the russians and i am unable to comment on that" that is the context with which i was asked the question, and in that context, my answer was a fair and correct response to the charges as i knew it. i was responding to this allegation that we have meant 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
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conversations that i may have had with the russians in situations as i have had many meetings with other foreign officials. so, please hear me now. it was only in march after my confirmation hearing that a reporter asked my spokesperson whether i had ever met with any russian officials. this was the first time that question had been squarely closed to me. on the same day, we provided a reporter with the information related to the meeting that i and my staff have held and my fitted office with ambassador sergey kislyak as well as the brief encounter in july after a speech that i had given during the convention in cleveland, ohio. i also provided the reporter with a list of 25 foreign investor meetings that i have had during 2016.
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in addition, i provided supplementary testimony to the senate judiciary committee to explain this to them. so i readily acknowledge these two cult meetings and certainly not one thing happened that was improper and any one of those meetings. let me also explain clearly the circumstances of my recusal from the investigation into the russian interference with the 2016 election. please, colleagues, hear me on this. i was sworn in as attorney general, february 9th. the very next day, as i had promised to the judiciary committee, a lease in the early day, i met with career department officials including senior ethics officials to discuss some things public he reported in the press that might have some bearing on whether or not i should recuse myself in this case.
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from that point, february 10th until i announce my formal recusal on march 2nd, i was never briefed on any investigation details, do not access any information about the investigation. i received only the limited information that the department career officials determined was necessary for me to form and make a recusal decision. as such, i have no knowledge about this investigation is ongoing today. beyond what has been publicly reported. i don't even read that. i have taken no action whatsoever in regards to any such investigation. on the date of my formal recusal, my chiefs of staff sent emails including two director comey of the fbi to instruct them, to inform their staff of s recusal and to advise them
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not to brief me or involve me in any way or any such matters. in fact, they have not. importantly, i recuse myself not because of any asserted wrongdoing or any belief that i may have been involved in any wrongdoing in the campaign, but because it is department of justice regulation. 28 cfr. 45.2. i felt required it. that regulation states an effect that compartment employees should not participate in investigations of a campaign if they serve as a campaign adviso advisor. the scope of my recusal, however, does not and cannot oversee the department of justice, including the fbi, which has an $8 billion budget
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and 35,000 employees. i presented to the president my concerns and those of deputy attorney general rod rosenstein about the ongoing leadership issues at the fbi as stated in my letter, recommending the removal of mr. comey along with the deputy attorney director. it is released public by the white house. it does represent a clear statement of my views. i adopted rod rosenstein's point that he made in his memorandum and made my recommendation. it is absurd, frankly, to suggest that a recusal from a single specific investigation would render the attorney general unable to manage the leadership of the various department of justice law enforcement components that conduct thousands of investigations. finally, during his testimony,
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mr. recusal discussed a conversation that he and i had about the director had with the president. i'm happy to share with the committee my recollection of the conversation that i had with mr. comey. following a routine morning routine, mr. comey spoke to me and my chief of staff. while he did not provide me with any of the substance of his conversation with the president, apparently the day before, mr. comey expressed concern about proper protocol and with the president. i responded. he didn't recall this, but i responded to his comment by agreeing that the fbi and the department of justice needs to be careful to follow department policies regarding appropriate contacts with the white house. mr. comey had served in the
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department for better than two decades, and i was confident that 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 a control. my comments encouraged him to do that. indeed as i understand it, he in fact did that. the department of justice rules on proper communications between the department and the white house of any and mr. comey knew them, and i assume he complied with them. so i will finish with this. i recuse myself from any investigation into the campaign for president, but i will not recuse myself from defending my honor against scurrilous and false allegations. at all times throughout the course of the campaign, the confirmation process,
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becoming attorney general, i have dedicated myself to the highest standard. i've earned a reputation for that. at home and in this body, i believe, over decades of performance. the people of this country expect and they make an honest and transparent government, and that is what we are giving them. the prison was a focus on the people in this country to ensure that they are treated fairly and cap say. the trump agenda has improved the lives of the american people. i know some have different ways of achieving this in different agendas, but this is his agenda, and it is one that i share. importantly, as attorney general, i have a responsibility to enforce the laws of this nation. to protect this country from its enemies, and to ensure that their administration of justice. i intend to work every day with our fine team and its superb professionals in the department
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of justice to advance the important work that we have to do. these false attacks, the innuendos, the leaks, you can be sure will not intimidate me. in fact, these events have only strengthened my resolve to fulfill my duty, my duty to reduce crime, to support our federal state and local law enforcement officers who work on our streets every day. just last week, it was reported that overdose deaths industry is country. lester was 52,000. "the new york times" estimated next year will be 62,000 overdosed deaths. the murder rate is up over 10%. it has increased since 1968. yet, we are telling the gangs, the cartels, the fraud stirs in
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the terrace. we are coming after you. every one of our citizens. no matter who they are or where they come from, they have the right to be safe in their homes and communities. i will not be deterred i will not be allowed this great department to be deterred. with vital admission. thank you chairman and ranking member, mark mark warner. i will do my best to answer your questions. >> general sessions, thank you. thank you for the testimony. i like to note that the chairman and the vice chairman will be reckoned as for 10 minutes and others will be recognized for five. i like to recognize that we are in open session. no reference eyes to class fighters sensitive information should be used relevant to your questions. i recognize myself for 10 minutes.
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general sessions, you talked about the mayflower hotel where the president gave his first foreign policy speech, it has been covered in this process that you were there and others were there. from your testimony, you said you do not remember whether investor sergey kislyak was there, the russian investor. is that correct? >> att gen sessions: i did not remember that. i understand, he was there. i do not doubt that he was. i believe that representations are correct. in fact, i recently saw a video of him coming into the room. >> you never remember having a conversation or meeting with investor sergey kislyak. >> att gen sessions: no. >> was there ever a private room setting the date you you were
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involved in? >> att gen sessions: no. other than the eight reception area that was set off from the main crowd a couple dozen or two dozen. >> i'm sure the president shook some hands. >> att gen sessions: he did in the group. >> you mentioned that there were some staff that were with you at that event. >> att gen sessions: my legislative director at the time -- >> your senate staff? >> att gen sessions: he is a retired u.s. colonel who served in the armed services staff with john warner before he joined my staff. they were with me in the reception area and throughout the rest of the events. >> were would you say you were there as a senator or a surrogate of the campaign for this event? >> att gen sessions: i came as a person, very anxious to see how president trump would do in
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his first major foreign policy address. i believe he had only given one major speech before. that was be at the jewish aipac event it was an interesting time for me to see his delivery and message she would make. that was my main purpose of being there. >> you recorded two other meetings with ambassador sergey kislyak. one in july on the sidelines of the republican convention, i believe, and one in september and your senate office. didn't get other interaction with government officials over the year and campaign capacity? i'm not asking you from a standpoint from a salary but with the campaign. >> att gen sessions: i stretch my brain to make sure i can answer either of those questions correctly, and i did not. i would just offer for you that
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when asked about whether i had any meetings with russians by the reporter in march, we merely recall the conversation and encounter i had at the convention and the meeting in my office. we made the public. i never intended not to include that. i would have gladly have it reported the meeting, the encounter, that may have occurred at the mayflower them if i had remembered it or if it actually occurred, which i do not remember that it did. >> chairman burr: general sessions, march 2nd, 2017, you formally recused yourself of any russian investigation by the fbi and the department of justice. what are the specific reasons that you chose to recuse yourself? >> att gen sessions: the specific reasons, mr. chairman, is a cfr, code of federal
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regulations, put out by the department of justice as part of the department of justice rule, and it says that is. i'll read from it. cfr 47.2. unless authorized, nobody should participate in a criminal investigation of prosecution if they have a personal or political relationship with any person involved in the conduct of an investigation. it goes on to say, for politica political -- a political campaign, and it says, if you have a close identification with an alleged official or candidate arising from service as a principal advisor, you should not participate in an investigation of the campaign. many have suggested that my
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recusal is because i felt i was a subject of the investigation myself. that i may have done something wrong, but this is the reason i recuse myself. i thought i was required to under the rules of the department of justice, and as a leader of the department of justice, i should comply with the rules, obviously. >> chairman burr: did your legal counsel know from day one that you would have to recuse yourself from this investigation because of the current statute? >> att gen sessions: well, i do have a timeline of what happened. i was sworn in on the ninth, i believe, february. i then on the tenth had my first meeting to generally discuss this issue with the cfr, which was not discussed. when other meetings, and became clear to me over time that i qualify as a significant
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principal advisor type person to the campaign, and it was the appropriate and right thing for me -- >> chairman burr: this could explain director comey's comments that he knew that there was a likelihood that you were going to recuse yourself, because he was familiar with the same statue. >> att gen sessions: i'm pretty sure that the attorney general and department of justice communicated with them. mr. chairman, let me say this to you clearly. in effect as a matter of fact, i recuse myself that day. i never received any information about the campaign. i thought there was a problem with me being able to can serve as it attorney general over this issue, and i felt that i would possibly have to recuse myself, and i took the position correctly, i believe, not to involve myself in the campaign in any way, and i did not. >> chairman burr: you made a
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reference to your chief of staff sending out an email immediately notifying internally of your decision to recuse. did you ask to make that available? >> att gen sessions: i have it with me now. >> chairman burr: thank you, general sessions. have you had any conversations with robert mueller after his institution? >> att gen sessions: i'm not. after the email i've sent out with mr. comey, he indicated that they did not know that when i recuse myself, i did not receive notice. one of those emails went to him by name. a lot happens in our offices. i'm not accusing him of any wrongdoings, but in fact, it was sent to him and to his name. >> chairman burr: okay. general sessions. as you said, mr. comey talked about the interactions he had with the president. highlighting your presence at those meetings.
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you addressed the meeting where all were asked to leave except for director called me and he had a private meeting with the president. he said he did inform you about how uncomfortable it was, and your recommendation was that the fbi and department of justice needed to follow the rules limiting correspondence. did director comey ever express additional discomfort with conversation with the president he might've had much my kid to call additional meetings and six phone calls. >> att gen sessions: that is great. there's nothing wrong with the president having communication with the fbi director. what is problematic for any department of justice employee is to talk to any cabinet person or white house officials, high
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officials, about ongoing investigations that are not properly cleared to the top levels of the department of justice, and so, it was a regulation that is healthy. i think we needed and strongly believe that we need need to re discipline within our department to adhere to just those kinds of rules, leaking rules and some of the other things that i think are a bit lax and need to be restored. >> chairman burr: you kind of habit conversation with the present about the investigation, because you are never briefed on the investigation. >> att gen sessions: that is correct. i would note that with regard to the private meeting that director called me by his own admission, i believe there are six meetings. several of them he had with donald trump. two with president obama. it would not be justified for a department official to share
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information about an ongoing investigation without prior review and clearance from above. >> chairman burr: general sessions, one last question. you wear the chair of this foreign policy team for the trump campaign. to the best of your knowledge, did that team ever meet? >> att gen sessions: we met a couple of times, may be. some of the people did, but we never met as a coherent team. >> chairman burr: were there any members of the team that you never met? >> att gen sessions: yes. >> chairman burr: vice chairman. >> vice chairman warner: thank you general sessions. we appreciate your appearance here, but we do see this as the first step, and we like to get your commitment that you agree to make yourself available as the committee's needs in the weeks and months ahead. >> att gen sessions: similar
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warner, i will appear before this committee and others as appropriate. i don't think it is good policy to bring cabinet members or the attorney general over things again and again. >> vice chairman warner: let me just ask you about this committee. >> att gen sessions: i am just giving you my answer. >> vice chairman warner: can be also get your commitment, because it will be questions about other meetings that we can get access to documents, your datebook or something. >> att gen sessions: we will be glad to provide appropriate responses and review them carefully. >> vice chairman warner: yesterday, a friend of the president reported that present trump was considering removing director robert mueller as special counsel. do you have confidence in his ability to conduct this investigation fairly and impartially? >> att gen sessions: i don't
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know about these reports and have no basis -- >> vice chairman warner: i am asking -- >> att gen sessions: i have known mr. robert mueller over the years. he has served six years as the fbi director. i knew him before that. i have confidence and mr. robert mueller, but i am not going to discuss any hypotheticals or might might not be a fact in the future. i am not aware of today, because i know nothing about the investigations. >> vice chairman warner: i am a series of questions. do you believe the present has confidence and robert mueller? >> att gen sessions: i have no idea. i'm not talk to them about that. >> vice chairman warner: when you commit to this committee not to take any personal actions that might direct robert mueller is dismissal or firing? >> att gen sessions: i can say that with confidence because i am recuse. the way it works, senator warner is at the acting attorney
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general >> vice chairman warner: i just want to get you on the record. >> >> att gen sessions: with rod rosenstein >> vice chairman warner: you will not have robert mueller removed. >> att gen sessions: i do not think that is appropriate for me to do. >> vice chairman warner: to your knowledge, has any department of justice official been involved with conversations about any possibility of presidential pardons about any of the individuals involved with the russian investigation? >> att gen sessions: mr. chairman, i am not able to comment on conversations on high officials within the white house that would be a violation of the communications rules. >> vice chairman warner: just so i can understand, the basis of that ruling is based on executive privilege or -- >> att gen sessions: it's a long-standing policy that the department of justice is not to comment on conversations that
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the attorney general has had with the president of the united states. it is for confidential reasons, that really are founded in a coequal branch, equal powers of the united states. >> vice chairman warner: just so i understand, does that mean that you are claiming privilege here today, sir? >> att gen sessions: i'm not claiming executive privilege, because as the president's power. >> vice chairman warner: what about conversations with other department or whether white house officials about potential pardons? not the president. >> att gen sessions: mr. chairman, i would not suggest that i had any conversation concerning pardons. apart from that, there are privileges of communications within the department of justice that we share all of it. we have a right to have full and robust debate within the department of justice. we encourage people to speak up and argue cases on different
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sides. those arguments are not to be revealed. >> vice chairman warner: i would hope you agree that since he recuse yourself from this investigation that the presidene during the midst of this investigation or robert mueller's investigation, that would be problematic. i want to mention a comment you made. you reached this conclusion about the performance about director comey's ability to lead the fbi. you agreed with deputy rod rosenstein's memo. the fact that you worked with director comey for some time. did you have a conversation as a superior of director comey for his ability to perform that he was not running the fbi and a good way or that somehow the fbi is in turmoil? did you have any conversation
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with director comey about the subject? >> att gen sessions: i did not not. >> vice chairman warner: you are his superior, and there were some fairly harsh things said about director comey. you never and thought it was appropriate to raise those concerns before he was terminated by the president? >> att gen sessions: i did not do so. remember random was prepared by deputy attorney general. it evaluated his performance, noted some serious problems with it. >> vice chairman warner: nu agreed with those? >> att gen sessions: i agreed. in fact, senator warner, before irc was confirmed, it was something that we both agreed had a fresh start at the fbi was probably the best thing. >> vice chairman warner: i can understand and talk about that before you came on, you had a chance for a fresh start. there's no fresh start.
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suddenly, when the midst of an investigation, and timing seems a little peculiar to me. at least to me was out of the blue that the present fires the fbi director, and if there are all these problems with disarray or lack of stability. all things are denied, i would think that somebody would've had this conversation with director comey, at least of that. let's go to the april 27th meeting. it has been brought up, i think the trim and brought up, by the time april 27th brought around, you already had been named the chair i then came in campaign -- >> att gen sessions: does a mayflower hotel. >> vice chairman warner: yes, sir. my understanding jerry cursed her in the present was at that meeting as well? >> att gen sessions: i believe he was. you'll recollect if jared kushner had any conversation
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with sergey kislyak? and to the best of my knowledge, you had no conversation with sergey kislyak? >> att gen sessions: i do not recall. certainly, i can assure you, nothing improper. if i had had a conversation with him, and it's conceivable that it occurred. i just do not remember. >> vice chairman warner: but there is nothing in your notes or memories that when you had a chance when you correct the record about the other two sessions in response to senator franken and cinder lahey, this did not pop into your memory that you had to report back to the session as well? >> att gen sessions: i guess i could say that i possibly had a meeting, but i still do not recall it. i did not in any way fail to record something in my testimony or in my subsequent letter intentionally false. >> vice chairman warner: i understand this. i'm trying to understand. we corrected the record, and
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clearly, by the time you had something to correct the record, i would have thought that you would have known that sergey kislyak was at that april 27th session. he had some press notoriety. and again, echoing what the chairman has said, just again for the record, there was no other meeting with any other officials by the russian campaign. >> att gen sessions: not to my recollection. i would just say with regards with the two encounters. one at the mayflower hotel, that you refer to, i came there not knowing he was going to be there. i do not have any recollection or knowing that he was going to be there. i did not have any communications with him before or after that event. likewise, at the event at the convention, i went off the convention grounds to a college campus for an event that had --
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>> vice chairman warner: let me -- >> att gen sessions: let me follow up. i did not know he would be in the audience -- >> vice chairman warner: briefly, you went into the speech that is -- >> att gen sessions: that is my recollection. >> vice chairman warner: and you are part of the department of justice reception? >> att gen sessions: desiree. >> vice chairman warner: general sessions, troubling things that i need to sort through is, mr. comey's testimony last week was that he felt uncomfortable with the president, he asked everyone to leave the room, he left the impression that you lingered with perhaps since you felt uncomfortable about it as well. i may allow you to i respond. after this meeting took place, clearly director comey felt
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uncomfortable, you never asked director comey what took place in that meeting? >> att gen sessions: i would just say that, we were there. i was standing there. without revealing any conversation that took place, what i do recall is that i did depart, i believe everyone else did depart and director comey was sitting in front of the president's desk, and they were talking. that's what i do remember. it was in the next day that he said something, expressed concern about being left alone with the president. that in itself is not problematic. he did not tell me at that time any details about anything that was said that was in dimmick improper. i expressed concern that we should be following the proper guidelines of the department of justice and basically back him up and his concerns. he should not carry on any
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conversation with the president or anyone else during that in a way that is not proper. i felt he so long felt in the is the deputy attorney general is a recall. they knew the policies better than i did. >> vice chairman warner: thank you. it did appear, mr. coming felt the conversation was improper? >> vice chairman warner: he was concerned about it. his recollection of what he said to me about his concern, it is consistent with mine recollection. >> vice chairman warner: attorney general sessions, good to hear you talk about how important this russian interference and active measures in our campaign is. i don't think there's any american that would disagree with the fact that, we need to drill down to this. no it happens, get it out in front of the american people, and do it we can to stop it. that is what this committee is charged to do, as you probably
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know on february 14th, they published an article alleging that there were constant communication between the trunk campaign in the russian inclusion the election. do recall that article when it came out? >> att gen sessions: not exactly. >> generally. >> att gen sessions: generally come i don't remember. >> mr. to call me direct dimmick mr. comey brought down directly, that he was not able to find red democrats to tell them that this was false. there was no, no such facts anywhere. the collaborating with what "the new york times" was doing. after that, this committee took that on, is one of the things we spent a lot more time on as we have on the russian active measures. we've been through thousands of pages of information,
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interviewed witnesses and such. they are no different than when this whole thing started. there's been no reports that i know of any factual information. are you aware of any such information or collusion? >> att gen sessions: is that arose from the dossier,, . >> att gen sessions: dimmick i think it is been discredited, but you are no more. lois said, that was suggested i participated in continuing communications with the russians as a surrogate is absolutely false. >> general sessions, there has been talk about conversations that you had conversations with the russians. senders appear who are on either foreign relations, intelligence armed services or such, conversations with officers of
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other governments or ambassadors or what have you are everyday occurrences here. multiple times throughout the day. that a first name? >> att gen sessions: it is. >> and if you run into one of the suit grocery store, you will have a conversation. >> att gen sessions: very well may happen. not improper. >> on the other hand, collusion with any government on the matter when it comes to our elections certainly would be improper and illegal. would that be a fair statement? >> att gen sessions: apsley. >> are you willing to just sit here until the america people that you had no conversations of any kind, whether it was collusion between the crime campaign or any other form group? >> att gen sessions: i said absolutely. i've no hesitation to do so. >> your former attorney general, former usa at senator. you participate in the trunk campaign. as such, you traveled with the campaign i got a question mark
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>> att gen sessions: yes. >> you'd spoke for the campaign? >> att gen sessions: i have by -- >> on your experience and time on the campaign, did you hear a whisper or suggestion or anyone making reference within the campaign to somehow that the russians were involved in that campaign? >> att gen sessions: i did not. >> what would you have done if you heard that? >> att gen sessions: i would have been checked and known it was improper. >> would've headed to the accident i was suppose? >> att gen sessions: may be. this is a serious matter. what you're talking about is hacking into the private person or dnc computer and obtaining information and spreading it out. that is just not right. i believe it's likely that laws were violated if that actually occurred. it's an improper thing. >> general sessions, if you have any person from the white house or anyone from the campaign,
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including president trump, directed you are asked you to do any lawful or illegal acts since you been attorney general of the united states >> att gen sessions: no, senator. >> thank you, mr. sessions. >> senator feinstein. >> thank you very much. welcome, attorney general. on may 19, mr. rosenstein and a statement to the house of representatives essentially told them that he learned on may 8th, president trump intended to remove director comey. when you wrote your letter on may 9th, did you know that the president had already decided to fire director comey? >> att gen sessions: senator feinstein, i would say that i believe it has been made public that the president asked
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us our opinion. it was given, and he asked us to put that in writing i don't know how much more he said about that, but i believe he has talked about it, and i would let his words speak for themselves. >> well, on may 11th on "nbc nightly news," president trump said he was in a fire him regardless of the recommendation. i'm confused about the recommendation, because the decision had been made. what was the need for you to write recommendation? >> att gen sessions: well, we were asked our opinion, and when we expressed it, which was consistent with the memorandum in the letter we wrote, i felt comfortable, and the deputy
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attorney general did to and providing that information and writing. >> so, do you concur with the president that he was going to fire mr. sessions regardless of recommendation because the problem with this before? >> att gen sessions: i would just have to let his words speak for himself. i'm not sure what was in his mind explicitly we talked with him. >> did you ever discuss director comey's fbi handling of the russian investigation with the president or anyone else? >> att gen sessions: senator, that would call for communication between attorney general, and the president, and i am unable to comment on that. >> you are not able to answer the question here whether you ever discuss that with him? >> att gen sessions: that is correct. >> how do you view that since
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you discussed his termination, why wouldn't you discussed the reasons? >> att gen sessions: well that is what was put in writing. the president made that public. i did not. >> you had no verbal conversation with him. >> att gen sessions: well, i am unable to discuss with you. confirm or deny the nature of private conversations that i may have had with the president on the subject or others. i know that it will be discussed, but that is the rules that have been long adhered to by the department of justice. as you know, senator dianne feinstein. >> we are longtime collies, but we heard admiral rogers say essentially the same thing. when it was easy just to say if the answer was no, no.
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>> att gen sessions: the easy would have been easy if it is yes, yes, but both would have been improper. >> okay. so, how exactly were you involved in the termination of director comey? because i am looking at your letter dated may 9th, and you say the director of the fbi must be someone who follows faithfully the rules and principles, who says the right example for our law enforcement officials, and therefore i must recommend that you remove director comey, and identify an experienced and qualified individual to lead the great men and women of the fbi. do you really believe this had to do with director comey's performance with the men and women of the fbi? >> att gen sessions: that was
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a clear view of mine and of rod rosenstein's as he said in length at his memorandum, which i adopted and sent forward to the president that we had problems there, and it was my best judgment that a fresh start at the fbi it would be the appropriate thing to do. when i said that to the present, it was something adhered to, deputy rod rosenstein had a number of things to point. when mr. comey denied the client investigation, that was a usurpation of the authority prosecutors in the department of justice. it was a stunning development. the fbi, the investigative team, they don't decide prosecution policies.
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that was a thunderous thing he also commented at some length on the declination of the clinton prosecution, which he should not -- you should not do. policies have been historic. if you decline, you declined, and you do not talk about it. there are other things that had happened, that indicate to me a lack of discipline, and it caused controversy on both sides of the aisle, and i've come to the conclusion that a fresh start was appropriate and did not mind putting that in writing. >> my time is up. thank you. >> chairman burr: senator marco rubio. >> thank you. i want to go to february 14th and goat to the details. director comey provided much detail the day. from what herzog far, there is a meeting in the oval office. at some point, the meeting concluded, the president, it got obsolete, the present asked director comey to stay behind.
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correct? >> att gen sessions: that is a communication in the white house. i would not comment on. >> do you remember seeing him stay behind? >> dmx >> att gen sessions: yes. his view of it is that you lingered, because you needed to stay. that was his characterization. remember lingering? he remembered that he needed to stay? >> att gen sessions: i do recall being one of the last ones to leave. >> did you decide to be the last one to leave? >> att gen sessions: i think we had a cow counterterrorism meeting. a number of people were there. there were filtering in and out. i eventually left. i think i was the last, one of the last ones to leave. would be fair to say that you be needed to say, because of all the fbi director? >> att gen sessions: i don't know how i would characterize that, senator marco rubio. i left but did not seem to me.
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i did nothing to be a major problem. director comey had a long time experience in the fbi could handle it himself. >> you saw him after that, and he characterized. he went up to you and said, never leave me alone with the president again. is not appropriate. and he said, disses his characterization, and you shrugged as to say, what am i supposed to do about it. >> att gen sessions: i think i described it more completely, correctly. he raised that issue with me. i believe the next day. i think it was correct. he expressed concern to me about that private conversation. i agreed with him, essentially that there are rules on private conversations with the presiden president. there is not a prohibition on a private discussion with the president, as i believe, he acknowledged six or more himself with president obama and
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president trump. i did not feel like that was the first. he gave me no details about what it was that he was concerned about. i would not say i would be able to respond if he called me. he certainly knew that with regards that he could call his direct supervisor's comment that in the department of justice, the direct supervisor to the fbi is the deputy attorney general. he could have complained to him or me at any time if he felt pressured, but i had no doubt that he would not yield to any pressure. >> do you know of the president records conversations in the oval office or anywhere in the white house? >> att gen sessions: i do not. >> let me ask you this. does he in fact, any president, record conversations in their official duties of the like? would there be an obligation to preserve those records? >> att gen sessions: i don't know. probably so. >> i want to go to the campaign
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for moment. as i'm sure you're aware, is better reported that russian posed simply not as unofficial but as businessmen, journalists and the like. did you have any conversation with and i say, you say, they were trying to influence me or gain insight that in hindsight, you look back and wonder? >> att gen sessions: i do not believe my conversations was a three times -- >> just in general. >> att gen sessions: well, i know a lot of foreign officials that wanted to argue their case for their country and to point out things that they thought were important. for their countries. that is a normal thing, i guess, you talk about. >> as far for someone who is not an official from another country. a businessman or someone walking down the street who struck you
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as someone who is trying to find out what you are up to her what the campaign was up to. you don't recall any conversation in hindsight that appears suspicious? >> att gen sessions: i would have to rack my brain, but i do not recall. >> joined the foreign policy team, the republican platform was changed to not provide defensive weapons to ukraine. were you involved in that decision? who was involved in that making that change? >> att gen sessions: i was not active in the platform committee. i did not participate with that, and don't think i had any direct involvement. >> do you know who? any recollection or debate about that issue internally in the campaign? >> att gen sessions: i never watched the debate. if it occurred on the platform committee, i think it did, so i do not recall that, senator marco rubio. out at the think about that. >> senator jared kushner. >> i want to thank you for the full view of the american people
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or blanks. i believe that the american people have had it with stonewalling. americans don't want to hear that answers to relevant questions or privileged and off-limits or that they cannot be provided in public or that they would be, quote, witness to tells what they know. we are talking about an attack on a democratic institution and stonewalling of any call my kind is unacceptable. and general sessions heads acknowledge that there is no legal basis for this stonewalling. this is not a question. last thursday, i asked former director of the fbi about their interactions with you, general sessions, prior to stepping aside from this before. mr. comey said that your continued engagement with this before was "problematic" and mr. comey cannot discuss it and
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public. he said fbi had been calling for you to step aside from the investigation at least two weeks before you finally did so. now, in your prepared statement, you stated, you received only "limited information necessary to inform your recusal decision" given director comey's statement, we need to know what that was. were you aware of any concerns at the fbi or elsewhere in government about your contacts with the russians or any other matters relevant to whether you should >> att gen sessions: senator wyden, i am not stonewalling. i am following the historic policies of the department of justice. you don't walk in to any hearing or committee meeting and reveal
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confidential communications with the president of the united states who is entitled to receive confidential communications and your best judgment about a host of issues. and have to be accused of stonewalling for not answering. i would push back on that. secondly, mr. comey, perhaps he didn't know that i basically recused myself the first day i got into the office because i never accessed files, i never learned the names of investigators, i never met with them, i never asked for any documentation. what little documentation i received was mostly already in the media and was presented by the senior ethics response -- i made a honest and proper decision to recuse myself, as i told senator feinstein and the members of the committee i would do when they confirm to me.
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>> general sessions, respectfully, you're not answering the question. the question is, mr. comey said they were in matters with respect to the recusal that were problematic and he could not talk about them. what are they? >> att gen sessions: why don't you tell me? there are none, senator wyden. there are none, i can tell you that for absolute certainty. this is a secret innuendo being leaked out there about me and i don't appreciate it and i tried to give my best and truthful answer to any committee of appeared before. people are suggesting through innuendo that i have been not honest about matters and i've tried to be honest. >> my time is short, you've made your point that you think mr. mr. comey is engaging in innuendo, we are going to keep
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digging. >> att gen sessions: senator wyden, he did not say that. >> he said it was problematic and i asked you what was problematic about it. >> att gen sessions: some of that leaked out of the committee that he set it in closed sessions. >> one more question, i asked the former fbi director whether your role and firing him played a role in your recusal. director comey said this was a reasonable question. i want to ask you point-blank, why did you sign the letter recommending the firing of director comey when it violated your recusal? >> att gen sessions: it did not violate my recusal. it did not violate my recusal. that would be the answer to that, and the letter that i assigned represented my views that it had been formulated for some time. >> mr. chairman, if i can finish. that answer in my view doesn't
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pass the smell test. the president tweeted repeatedly the day before you wrote your letter, he tweeted the collusion story was a total hoax and asked when will this taxpayer-funded charade end? i don't like your answer. >> att gen sessions: i think i should be allowed to briefly respond and would say the letter, the memorandum that deputy rosenstein wrote in my letter represented my views of the situation. >> thank you, mr. chairman. >> thank you, mr. chairman. attorney general sessions, i want to clarify who did what with regard to the firing of mr. comey.
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first of all, let me ask you, when did you have your first conversation with rod rosenstein about mr. comey? >> att gen sessions: we talked about it before either one of us had been confirmed. it was a topic of conversation among people who served in the department a long time. they knew that what had happen that fall was pretty dramatically unusual and it was dramatically wrong. we both found that we shared a common view that a fresh start would be appropriate. >> this was based on mr. comey's handling of the investigation involving hillary clinton in which you said that he usurped the authority of prosecutors at the department of justice? >> att gen sessions: yes, that was part of it.
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the commenting on the investigation and ways that go beyond proper policies. we need to restore senator collins, the classic discipline. we have talked too much publicly about investigations. in the long run, the department said that you remain about investigations. >> subsequently, the president asked for you to put your views in writing, you testified today. i believe that you were right to recuse yourself from the ongoing russian investigation, but then on may 9th, you wrote to the president recommending that mr. comey be dismissed. obviously, this went back many months to the earlier conversations you had had with
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mr. rosenstein. my question is, why do you believe that your recommendations to fire director comey was inconsistent with your march 2nd recusal? >> att gen sessions: thank you. the recusal involved one case in the department of justice. they conduct thousands of investigations. i'm the attorney general of the united states, it's my responsibility to our judiciary committee and other committees to ensure that that department is run properly. i have to make difficult decisions and i do not believe that it is a sound position to say that if you are recused for a single case involving any one of the great agencies like dea or u.s. marshals or atf that are part of the department of
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justice, you can't make a decision about the leadership in that agency. >> now, if you had known that the president subsequently was going to go on tv and in an interview with lester holtz would say that this russian thing was the reason for this decision to dismiss the fbi director, when you have felt uncomfortable about the timing of the decision? >> att gen sessions: i don't think it's appropriate to deal with those kind of hypotheticals. i have to deal and actual issues. i would respectfully not comment on that. >> let me ask you this. in retrospect, do you believe that it would have been better for you to have stayed out of the decision to fire director comey?
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>> att gen sessions: i think it's my responsibility. i was appointed to be attorney general, supervising all the federal agencies, is my responsibility. trying to get the very best people in those agencies at the top of them is my responsibility, and i think i had a duty to do so. >> director comey testified that he was not comfortable telling you about his one-on-one conversation with the president on february 14th because he believed that 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. do you believe that the director had an obligation to bring the information about the president saying that he hoped he could let michael flynn go to someone
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else said the department of justice -- there are an awful lot of lawyers at the department of justice. >> att gen sessions: i think the appropriate thing would have been for director comey to talk with the acting deputy attorney general who is his direct supervisor. that was dana been to a who had 33 years in the department of justice and was even then still serving for 6 years and continues to serve as attorney general appointed by president obama. he's a man of great integrity and everybody knows it. if he had concerns, he should have raised it to deputy attorney general ben day if he had any concern that i might be recusing myself, that would have been double reason to
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share it with the deputy attorney general. >> attorney general sessions, has the president ever expressed his frustration to you regarding your decision to recuse yourself? >> att gen sessions: i'm not able to share with this committee private communication communications. >> because you are invoking executive privilege. >> att gen sessions: that's the president's prerogative. >> my understanding is that you took an oath. you raised your right hand here today and you said you would solemnly swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. now you're not answering questig this investigation. my understanding of the legal standard is that you either answer the question, that's the best outcome. you say this is classified, can't answer it here. i'll answer them close session. that's bucket number two. bucket number three is to say i'm invoking executive
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privilege. there is no appropriateness bucket. it is not a legal standard. can you tell me what are these long-standing doj rules that protect conversations made in the executive without invoking executive privilege? >> att gen sessions: senator, i'm protecting the president's right without giving it away before he has a chance. secondly, i am telling the truth and answering your questions and saying it's a long-standing policy of the department of justice to make sure the president has full opportunity to decide these issues. >> can you share those policies with us? of a written down at the department of justice? >> att gen sessions: i believe they are. >> if the legal standard. >> att gen sessions: my judgment that it would be inappropriate for me to answer
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and reveal private conversations with the president when he has not had a full opportunity to reveal 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 of the things deals with the investigation of the special counsel. >> we are not asking questions about that investigation. if i wanted to ask questions about that investigation, i would ask those of rod rosenstein. i'm asking 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 a special counsel investigation, there is also a congressional investigation. you are obstructing the congressional investigation by not answering these questions. i think your silence, like the
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silence of director coats, like the silence of admiral rogers speaks volumes. >> att gen sessions: i would say that i have consulted with senior career attorneys in the department and i believe this is consistent with my duties. >> senator risch ask you a question about appropriateness. if you had known there had been anything untoward with regard to russia and the campaign, would you have headed for the exits? your response was maybe. why wasn't it a simple yes? >> att gen sessions: there was an improper, illegal relationship in an effort to impede or influence this campaign, i absolutely would have departed. >> i think that's a good answer. i'm not sure why it wasn't the answer in the first place. i find it strange that neither you nor deputy attorney general rod rosenstein brought a
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performance issues with director comey. in fact, director mccabe has refuted any assertion that there was performance issues. this is troubling because it appears at the president decided to fire director comey because he was pursuing the russian investigation and had asked you to come up with an excuse. when your assessment of director comey didn't hold up to public scrutiny, the president finally admitted that he had fire director comey because he was pursuing the russian investigation i.e. though lester holds interview. you agree that you did not break recusal when participating in comay's firing, but it appears that his firing was directly related to russia. not departmental mismanagement. how do you square those two things? >> att gen sessions: you had a lot in that question. let me say first, within a week or so, i believe made third --
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may 3rd, director comey testified that he believed the handling of the clinton declination was a proper and appropriate and he would do it again. i know that was a great concern to both of us because it did not -- it represented something that i think most professionals in the department of justice would totally agree that the fbi investigative agency does not decline criminal cases. it's a pretty breathtaking use of patients on the responsibility of the attorney general. that's how we felt. that was sort of additional concern that we had heading the fbi, someone who asserted the right to continue to make such decisions. that was one of the things we discussed. that was in the memorandum, i
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believe, and it was also a factor for us. >> before i recognize senator warren, i would like the record to show that last night, admiral rogers spent almost two hours in closed session with almost the full committee, fulfilling his commitment to us in the hearing that in closed session, he would answer the questions and i think it was thoroughly answered and all members were given an opportunity to ask questions. >> thank you, chairman. attorney general, it's good to see you and mary. i know there are probably other places you would both rather be, but you've always looked at public service are 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
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do. >> att gen sessions: i am blessed indeed. >> i agree with that. let me get a couple of things clear in my mind here, notes i've taken while people were asking questions and you were talking. on the april 27th, 2016 event, i think that was the mayflower hotel speech at the presidential candidate gave on foreign policy, you did not have a room at that event where he had private meetings, did you? >> att gen sessions: no, i did not. >> as i understand it, you went to a reception that was attended by how many people? >> att gen sessions: i think 2-3 dozen people. >> you went in her speech and you may have seen people on your way out. >> att gen sessions: correct. >> when you said you possibly had a meeting with mr. kislyak, do you mean you possibly met hi him? >> att gen sessions: i may have had an encounter during the
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reception, that's the only thing i cannot say with certainty. >> sometimes when i hear, you might have met him at the reception. could you have met other ambassadors of that reception as well? >> att gen sessions: i could. i remember one in particular that we had a conversation with whose country had an investment in alabama and we talked at length about that. i remember that. otherwise, i have no recollection of a discussion with the russian ambassador. >> you were there, you read since he was there, you may have seen him, but you had no room where you are having meetings with individuals to have discussions at the mayflower hotel that day? >> att gen sessions: no, that is correct. >> whenever you talked to mr. comay after he had had his meeting with the president, you
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think that was probably the next day, you didn't stay afterwards and see him after he left the oval office that night? >> att gen sessions: no. his testimony may have suggested that it happened right afterwards, but it was either the next morning, which i think it was, or maybe the morning after that. we had a three times a week national security briefing with the fbi that i undertake. it was after that we had that conversation. >> when i'm not quite clear on is did you respond when he expressed his concern or not? >> att gen sessions: yes, i did respond. 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 is with me, and we recall
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that i did affirm the long-standing written policies of the department of justice concerning communications with the white house. we have to follow those rules and in the long run, you are much better off if you do. they do not prohibit communications one on one by director with the president, but if that conversation moves into certain areas, it's the duty -- the rules apply to the apartment of justice. it's a duty of the fbi to say mr. president, i can't talk about that. that's the way that should work. apparently, it did because he says he did not improperly discuss matters with the president. >> mr. comay talked about that meeting, did he mention mr. flynn? >> att gen sessions: no, he mentioned no facts of any kind. he did not mention to me that he had been asked to do something he thought was improper.
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he just said he was uncomfortable. >> after that discussion with mr. comay -- >> att gen sessions: i don't know that he said he was uncomfortable. he said -- what he testified to was perhaps the correct wording. i'm not sure exactly what he said, but i don't dispute it. >> exactly when i remember him saying was you didn't 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. the >> att gen sessions: i took it as a concern that he might be asked something that was improper and i affirmed to him his willingness to say no and not go in an improper direction. >> i'm assuming you would not talk about this because it would relate to the main eighth meeting, but my sense is that no
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decision is final until it's carried out. my guess is there are people at this dais who have said that they would let somebody go or hire somebody that never did that. the fact that the president said that on may 8th does not mean that the information he got from you on may 9th was not necessary or impactful 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's happened. >> senator kane. >> you testified a few minutes ago, i'm not able to invoke executive privilege, that's up to the president. has the president invoked executive privilege and the kids of your test money today? >> att gen sessions: he has not. >> than what is the basis of your refusal to answer these questions? >> att gen sessions: the president has a constitutional
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constitutional -- >> you said you don't have the power to assert executive privilege, so what is the legal basis? >> att gen sessions: on protecting the right of the president to assert it if he chooses and there may be other privileges that could apply in circumstance. >> i don't understand how you can have it both ways. the president can't not assert it and you testified that only the president can asserted and yet, i just don't understand the legal basis for your refusal to answer. >> att gen sessions: if it comes to a point where the 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 asserted, but
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at this point, i believe it's premature for me to deny the president a full and intelligent choice about executive privileg privilege. >> you testified a few minutes ago that we were asked for your opinion, who ask for your opinion? you testified we were asked for our opinion. >> att gen sessions: up my understanding is i believe i'm correct in saying the president has said so. >> he did not ask you directly? >> att gen sessions: i thought you're asking about the privilege. >> you said we were asked for our opinion, you and mr. rosenstein. >> att gen sessions: i believe that was appropriate for me to say that because i think the president -- >> i'm just asking you for your opinion? who asked you for your opinion question marks before the
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president asked for our opinion. >> you just testified to the content of munication. >> att gen sessions: he's already revealed that. i believe i'm correct in saying that, that's why i indicated that when i answered that question. if he hasn't, i would have constricted his constitutional right of privilege. >> you're being selective -- >> att gen sessions: are not intentionally, i'm doing so only because i believe -- >> did the question of the russian investigation of or come up? >> att gen sessions: i cannot answer that because it was communication and the president. if any such occurred, it would be a communication that he had not waived. >> he has not inserted executive privilege. do you believe the russians interfered with a 26 elections? >> att gen sessions: it appears so. the intelligence community seems
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to be united in that, but i have to tell you, senator king, i know nothing about what i read in the papers. i never received any detailed briefings. >> between the election, there was a memorandum from the intelligence community on october 9th the detailed with the russians were doing after the election, before the inauguration, you never sought any information about this rather dramatic attack on our country? you never asked for a briefing or attended a briefing? >> att gen sessions: you might have been very critical of me if 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 the russians did. you received no briefing on the active members with connection to the 2016 election? >> att gen sessions: no, i
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don't believe i did. >> let's go to the letter of ma. you said based on my evaluation and for the reasons expect the deputy, was at a written evaluation? >> att gen sessions: my evaluation was an evaluation that had been going on for some months. >> is there a written evaluation? >> att gen sessions: i did not make one. i think you could classify deputy attorney general rosenstein's memorandum as an evaluation. he was the direct supervisor of the fbi director. >> his evaluation was based 100% on the handling of the hillary clinton emails, is that correct? >> att gen sessions: and a number of other matters. he did explicitly lay out the errors that he thought had been made in the process of the fbi. i thought they were accurate and
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far more significant than a lot of people have understood. >> thank you, mr. chairman. >> good to see you again. you speak as a man eager to set the record straight. you have spoken very bluntly from the beginning of your oaken statement on the way through this time. i am amazed of 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 a committee in the house or the senate and would or not turn over documents, even requested. they had to go all the way through the court system to the courts having to say that president cannot hold back documents and the attorney general can't do somehow, some accusation that you're not saying every conversation about everything, there is a long history of
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attorney general's standing beside the president saying there are some conversations that are confidential. it does seem as well that every unnamed source, somehow gets a hearing. i was in the hearing this morning with rod rosenstein as we dealt with the appropriations request that you were scheduled to be added. rod rosenstein was taking your place to cover. he was very clear. he was peppered with questions about russia. he was very clear that he has never had conversations with you about that and that you've never requested conversations about that. he was also peppered with questions of the latest rumor of the day that somehow the president is thinking about firing robert mueller and getting rid of him and was very clear that rosenstein himself said that i'm the only one that could do that and i'm not contemplating that, nor would i do that and no one has any idea
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who the latest unnamed source story of the day is coming from, but somehow it's grabbing all the attention. i do want to be able to bring a couple things to you. one is to define the word recuse. i come back to your email that you sent to jim comey and others that day on march 2nd. this is what you had said in your email. 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 were 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 responses to media inquiries relating to such investigations. it is not something you have maintained from march 2nd on? >> att gen sessions: absolutely. i maintain it from the first day i became attorney general. we discussed those matters and i
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felt until and if i made a decision to not recuse myself, i should not involve myself in studying the investigation or evaluating it. i also would note that the memorandum for my chief of staff directs these agencies and one of the people it directly wasn't sent to was james b comay, director of the fbi. you should instruct members of your staff not to brief the attorney general or other officials in the office of the attorney general about or otherwise involved in the attorney general and any such matters described above. it was in crystal-clear position of the recusal meant recusal.
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>> relating to this april 27th meeting, nonmeeting in the same room at the same time, the national interest was asked specifically. they stated this in writing. as the center for national interest and -- the trunk campaign did not determine or improve the invitation list. guests included both democrats and republicans with some among the latter supporting other candidates. most of the guests were washington-based. we regularly invite ambassadors and other representatives. then they stated, we ceded all four in the front row during the speech. the center for national interest and invited each to a short reception prior to trumps speech.
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the line moved quickly and any conversations about setting were brief and could not be private. a recollection is the interaction between mr. trump and ambassador kislyak was an exchange of pleasantries. we were not aware of any conversations between ambassador kislyak. in a small group setting like this one, it would be 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? >> att gen sessions: no, that's a very fair description of the reception situation. i appreciate them having made that statement. the >> thank you mr. general for being here. it's good to see you again. i'm going to follow up a bit on what senator king had asked. you and i remember back in our lifetime, we've never known
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russians to ever be our friend. with that being said, the seriousness of this russian hacking is very serious to me and concerning. you're saying you had not been briefed on that. i think it was october 9th when it was no that the o.d. and i, mr. klapper and mr. jay johnson made that public what was going on. then on december 29th, president obama at that time -- he brought in the existing sanctions. sir, did you have any discussions on all, have you had any discussions or said on any type of meetings or recommendations made to removal sanctions? >> att gen sessions: i don't recall any such meetings. >> during the time, not from the
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president being inaugurated on january 20th, prior to that in the campaign, up until the transition, was there any question about what the russians were doing and what they had really done? >> att gen sessions: i'm not sure i'm answering your questio question. >> was there ever any conversations considering that whatsoever? >> att gen sessions: i don't recall. >> i know it's been asked of yo you, about executive privileges, i understand that, but also, when we had mr. comey here, he agreed to go into a closed session. would you agree to go into closed session, would it change your answers to us or your
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ability to speak more frankly on some things? >> att gen sessions: i'm not sure. executive privilege is not waived by going and closed session. it may be that one of the concerns is that when you have an investigation ongoing as a special counsel does, it's often very problematic to have persons not cooperating with the conduct of the investigation. it may not be a factor of going closed session. >> there is a lot of questions that they want to ask. maybe we can check into that a little further. did you have any other meetings with russian government officials that have not been previously disclosed? >> att gen sessions: i racked my brain and i do not believe s
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so. i can assure you that none of those meetings discussed manipulating a campaign in the united states in any way, shape, or form. >> are there any other meetings between russian government officials in the trunk campaign associates that have not been previously disclosed that you know of? >> att gen sessions: i don't recall any. >> did any of the individuals meet with russian officials? >> att gen sessions: repeat that. >> to the best of your knowledge, did any of these following individuals meet with russian officials at any point during the campaign. paul manna for. >> att gen sessions: i don't have information that he had done so. he serviced campaign chairman for a few months. >> stephen bannon. >> att gen sessions: have no information. >> michael flynn. >> att gen sessions: i don't recall it.
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>> reince priebus. >> att gen sessions: i don't recall. >> steve miller. >> att gen sessions: i don't recall him ever having such a conversation. >> corey lewandowski. >> att gen sessions: i don't recall any of those individuals having any meetings with russian officials. >> carter page. >> att gen sessions: i don't know. >> finally, -- >> att gen sessions: there may have been published conversations with mr. page. >> if you are sitting on this side -- >> att gen sessions: nobody gets to ask you about your private conversations. >> if you are sitting on this side, what questions would you be asking? >> att gen sessions: i would be asking questions related to
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whether or not there was an impact on the selection. particularly by the russians because this community has suggested they did. i do think that members of this government have offices to run. the questions should be focused on that. >> regarding missing part of the story? >> att gen sessions: i don't know because i'm not involved in the campaign and had no information concerning it. >> i will assure you we are very much focused on russia's involvement. >> att gen sessions: doesn't seem like it. >> as a complete those processes, we relay those facts the american people. we are grateful for what you
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have done. >> i am on the side of the dais, so i can say a very simple question that should be asked. the donald trump or any of his associates in the campaign collude with russia and hacking those emails and releasing them to the public? that's where we started six months ago. we have 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've gone down lots of other rabbit trails, not that questio question. maybe that is because jim comey said last week that on three times, he assured him that he was not under investigation. maybe it's because multiple democrats on this committee have stated they have seen no evidence thus far after six month of our investigation and 11 months of the fbi investigation of any such collision. what do we think happened at the mayflower?
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mr. sessions, are you familiar with what spies -- that involves things like that drop and brush passes. do you like spy fiction? >> att gen sessions: yes. >> do you like jason bourne or james bond movies? >> att gen sessions: no. >> have you ever in any of these fantastical situations heard of a front line so ridiculous that a sitting united states senator and ambassador of foreign government colluded at an open setting with hundreds of other people to pull off the greatest caper in the history of the u.s.? >> att gen sessions: thank you for saying that, mr. cotton. it's through the looking glass. what is this? i explained how and good faith, i said i had not met with
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russians because they were suggesting i come as a surrogate, had been meeting with russians. i said i did not meet with them. now the next thing you know, i'm accused of some reception, plotting some sort of influence campaign with the american election. it's beyond my capability to understand. i appreciate the opportunity to be able to say publicly, i did not participate in that and know nothing about it. >> i gather that's one reason he wanted to testify today and public. last week, mr. comey and characteristic dramatic and theatrical profession alluded to innuendo that there wasn't some kind of classified intelligence that suggested you might have colluded with russia or that you might have acted improperly. you've addressed those allegations here today. you understand why he made that allusion? >> att gen sessions: actually,
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i do not. nobody has provided me any information. >> i have a lot of questions. this missed you said you did respond to mr. comey. mr. comey's testimony said you did not, do you know why mr. comey would have said that you do not respond to him? >> att gen sessions: i do not. it was a little conversation, not very long, but there was a conversation. i did respond to him, perhaps not to everything he asked, but i did respond. i think it was appropriate. >> do know why mr. comey mistrusted president trump on their first meeting on january january 6? he stated last week that he did, but did not state anything from
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that meeting that caused them to have such mistrust. >> att gen sessions: i'm not able to speculate on that. >> let's turn to the crimes that we know have happen. leaks of certain information. here's a short list. the contents of the ledge and conversations between mr. flynn and mr. kislyak. the contents of president trump's phone calls australian and mexican leaders, the contents of mr. trump's meetings with the russian foreign minister and ambassador, the league of manchester bombing suspect's and crime scene photos, and last week within 20 minutes of this committee meeting in a classified setting with jim comey, the leaks of what mr. comey's innuendo was. are these serious to our national security and are you taking them with seriousness and going to prosecute them to the full segment of the law? >> att gen sessions: thank you senator cotton. we have had one successful case
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very recently in georgia. the person has been denied bail, i believe and has been held in custody. some of these leaks as you well know are extraordinarily damaging to the united states security. we have got to restore a regular order of principle. we cannot have people in our investigative agencies leaking sensitive matters. this is going to result in investigations and i fear that some people may find that they wish they had not leaked. >> my time is expired. for the record, the republican platform was weekend on the point. it was a democratic president who refused bipartisan requests of this congress to supply those
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arms. >> attorney general sessions, you have several times this afternoon said to the best of your recollection. just on the first page of your three pages of testimony, you wrote nor do i recall, do not remember. my question is for any of your testimony today, did you refresh your memory with any written documents, your calendar, written correspondence, emails, notes of any sort? >> att gen sessions: i intended to refresh my recollections, but so much of this in a wholesale campaign of extraordinary nature that you are moving so fast that you don't keep notes. i didn't keep notes of my conversation with russian ambassadors. >> just talk -- >> att gen sessions: i'm just saying i didn't keep notes. >> will you supply this
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committee with a nose that you did maintain? >> att gen sessions: as appropriate, i will supply the committe with documents. >> can you tell me what you mean by appropriate question works before i would have to consult with lawyers in the department who know the proper procedures before disclosing documents that are held within the department of justice. i'm not able to make that opinion today. >> i'm sure you're prepared for this hearing today and most of the questions that have been presented to you were predictable. my question to you is did you then review with the lawyers of your department what the law is for what you can share with us and cannot share with us? what is privileged and nonprivileged? >> att gen sessions: we discussed basic parameters of testimony. frankly, we have not discussed documentary disclosure rules. >> will you make a commitment to this committee that you will share any written correspondence
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be at your calendars, records, notes, emails, or anything that has been reduced at any point in time in writing? >> att gen sessions: i will commit to reviewing the rules of the department and when that issue was raised to respond appropriately. >> did you have any communications with russian officials for any reason during the campaign that have not been disclosed in public or to this committee? >> att gen sessions: i don't recall. i have to tell you, i cannot testify to what was said as we were standing at the republican convention before the podium. >> did you have any communication with russian businessmen or any russian naturals stomach nationals
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>> att gen sessions: i did not. a lot of people where the convention. if i don't qualify, you'll accuse me of lying, so 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 any other trump campaign officials and associates that they had with russian officials or any russian nationals? >> att gen sessions: i don't recall that. at 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 interests in the united states before generate 20th? >> att gen sessions: no. i may have had some conversations and i think i did with the general strategic
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concept on 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 a tragic event that we are not able to get along. >> how to do typically communicate with the candidate for president-elect trump? >> att gen sessions: would you repeat that? >> before you were sworn in as attorney general, how to do typically communicate with then candidate or president-elect trump? >> att gen sessions: i did not make formal presentations. >> did you come in again with him in writing? >> att gen sessions: i don't believe so. >> you referred to a long-standing doj policy, can you tell us what policy it is you're talking about? >> att gen sessions: most cabinet people -- those
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individuals declined to comment because we are all about conversations with the presiden president. it's a policy that goes beyond the attorney general. >> is a policy in writing somewhere? >> att gen sessions: i think so. >> did you not consult it before you came before this committee knowing we would ask you questions about a question mark >> att gen sessions: the policy is based on the principle -- >> i'm not asking about the principal. did you not ask your staff to show you the policy that would be the basis for your refusing to answer? >> it when it should be allowed to answer the question. >> senators will allow the chair to control the hearing. senator harris, let him answer. >> att gen sessions: we talked about it and we talked about the
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real principal that i have some appreciation for having spent 15 years in the department of justice and that principle is that the constitution provides the head of the executive branch certain privileges and one of them is confidentiality of communications. it is and proper for of any department in the executive branch to weigh that privilege without clear approval of the president. that's a situation we are in. >> i asked for yes or no. >> att gen sessions: the answer is yes, i consulted. >> your time is expired. >> attorney general sessions, he said i long believe a president
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could fire and fbi director for any reason or no reason at all. do you agree with that? >> att gen sessions: es and i think that was good for him to say because i believe we are going to have a new and excellent fbi director, a person who is smart, disciplined with integrity and proven judgment. that statement was a valuable thing for thing for director comey to say and i appreciate that he did. >> just to reiterate, the time of yuri cruz will, you recused from the russian investigation on march 2nd, correct? >> att gen sessions: their formal recusal took place on that day. >> the letter that you wrote
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affording the rosenstein memo to the president as a basis for director comey's termination was dated may 9th, a couple of months after you recused from the russian investigation, correct? >> att gen sessions: i believe that is correct. >> att gen sessions: is it true that it did not factor western mark >> att gen sessions: that is correct. >> the memorandum written by the deputy attorney general, your letter to the president did not mention russia at all, is that your recollection? >> att gen sessions: that is correct. >> let's review with the basis for rosenstein's recommendation. he said i cannot defend the director's handling of the conclusion of the investigation of secretary clinton's emails
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and i do not understand his refusal to accept the nearly universal judgment that he was mistaken. of course, he was talking about director comey. he went on to say that the director was long to usurp the attorney general's authority to july the fifth. do you recall that was the date of the press conference he held? he went on to say that the fbi director is never empowered. 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. and fact, there is a written policy from the department of justice, is there not?
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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? >> att gen sessions: i am generally familiar with that. there have always been rules about it. >> let me read just an excerpt from a memo from the attorney general, march 9th, 2012 entitled election-year sensitivities. it says law enforcement officers may never select the timing of investigative steps or criminal charges for the purpose of 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
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prosecution, do you agree with that? >> att gen sessions: essentially, yes. >> essentially what the attorney general said is that former director comey violated department of justice directives when he held a press conference on july 5th, 2016. he announced that secretary clinton was extremely careless with classified emails and went on to release other derogatory information including his conclusion that she was extreme the 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 of the prosecutors of the department of justice. that's what was meant by deputy attorney general rosenstein when he said that director comey usurped the role of that apartment of justice prosecutors, is that right? >> att gen sessions: that is correct. former attorney general wrote an
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op-ed recently in which he said he had assumed that attorney general lynch had urged mr. comey to make this announcement so she would not have to do it. and fact, it appears that he did it without her approval totally and that is a pretty stunning thing. it violates fundamental powers. when he reaffirmed the rightness he believed of his decision on may 3rd, i think it was, that was additional confirmation that the director's thinking was not clear. >> thank you very much. first, a point. senator heinrich and others raised the issue of long-standing rules.
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if there are written rules, would you provide them to the committee please? >> att 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, is that correct? >> att gen sessions: i supported everything that they deputy attorney general put in his memoranda as good and important factors to use in determining whether or not he had conducted himself in a way that justified continuing in office. i think it pretty well speaks for itself and most of it did deal with that. the discussion about his performance of a bipartisan discussion, it began during the election time. democrats were very unhappy about the way he conducted
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himself and in retrospect and looking at it, i think it was more egregious. >> i don't want to cut you off. on july 7th when mr. comey made his first announcement about the case, you were on fox news and you said first of all, director comey is still former prosecutor and the new concluded by saying essentially that it's not his problem, it's hillary clinton's problem. then in november, on november 6th after mr. comey again made news and laid october by reopening the investigation, you said again on fox news, fbi director comey did the right thing when he found new evidence. he had no choice but to report it to the american congress.
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the investigation was over, he had to correct it and say this is done. in july and november, director comey was doing exactly the right thing. you had no criticism of him. you felt that he was a skilled professional prosecutor. you felt that his last statement in october was fully justified. how can you go from those statements to agreeing with mr. rosenstein and then ask the president that he be barred? >> att gen sessions: in retrospect, as we begin to look at that clearly and talk about it as perspectives of the department of justice, once the director first got involved and embroiled in a public discussion of this investigation, which would have been better to never
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been discussed publicly and said it was over, then when he found new evidence that came up, i think he probably was required to tell congress that it wasn't over. new evidence had been developed. it probably would have been better, it would have been consistent with the rules of the department of justice to never talk about the investigation to begin with. once you get down that road, that's the kind of thing that you get into that went against classical prosecuting that i was learned and i was taught. >> if i may ask another question. your whole premise and recommending to the president was the actions in october involving secretary of state clinton and the whole clinton
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controversy. did you feel misled when the president announced that his real reason for dismissing mr. comey was the russian investigation? >> att gen sessions: i'm not able to characterize that. >> you had no inkling that there was anything to do with russia until the president of the united states basically declared not only on tv, but in the oval office said the pressure is off, i now got rid of that nut job. that came to you as a complete surprise? >> att gen sessions: all i can tell you 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 prerogative. >> there is a scenario in which
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where the cover story the president put out and he quickly abandoned and his real reason was russian investigation. if it had been the case, i would expect he would recuse yourself from any involvement. thank you. >> senator mccain. >> over the last few weeks, the administration has characterized your previously undisclosed meetings with russian ambassador his lack a member -- as chairman of that committee, let me ask a few questions. at these meetings, did you raise
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concerns about russian invasion of ukraine or annexation of crimea? >> att gen sessions: i did, senator mccain and i would like to follow-up a little little bit on that. that's one of the issues that i recall explicitly. the day before my meeting with the russian a with a ukrainian ambassador and i heard his concerns about russia. so i raised those with mr. kiss lack everything they did according to most correct and i remember pushing back on it and being testy on that subject. >> knowing you on the committee, i can't imagine that. did you raise concerns about russia's support for by cheryl assad? >> att gen sessions: i don't recall whether that was discussed or not.
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>> did you raise concerns about russia's interference in our electoral process? >> att gen sessions: i don't recall it being discussed. >> at those meetings, did you spoke with ambassador kislyak, you presumably talked with him about russia related security issues, that you had demonstrated as important to members of the committee. the >> att gen sessions: device it -- >> i don't recall you being vocal on such issues. >> att gen sessions: repeat that, i'm sorry. >> the whole russia related security issues are demonstrated as important to you as a member of the committee. did you raise those with him? >> att gen sessions: you mean mean -- >> and other words, russia related security issues. and your capacity of the chairman of strategic forces
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subcommittee, what russia related security issues did you hold hearings on and otherwise demonstrated keen interest in question marks before he may have discussed that. i don't have a real recall of the meeting. i was not making a report about it to anyone. i was basically willing to meet. >> and his response was? >> att gen sessions: i don't recall. >> during the 2016 campaign season, did you have contact with any representative including any american lobbyist or agent of any russian company within their capacity as a member of congress? >> att gen sessions: i don't believe so. >> political recently reported that in the middle of the 2016 elections, the fbi found that russian diplomats -- had gone missing, some turned up
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wandering the desert, driving around kansas. reportedly sources concluded that after a year of intention, these movements indicated that the uss game had more stronger -- and the kremlin was trying to map the united states communication infrastructure. what you know about this development how the justice department and other relevant agencies responded? >> att gen sessions: we need to do more, senator mccain. i have seen other nations with these technological skills like china and some of the other nations that are penetrating our business interests, our national security interests. as a member of the armed services committee, i did support and advocate legislatio
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legislation, it's ongoing now, that requires the defense department to identify weaknesses in our system -- and my short tenure, i've been concerned about hacking and those issues more than i was in the senate. >> "the washington post" reported yesterday, russia has developed a cyber weapon. this weapon is similar to what russia and russian allied hackers used to disrupt ukraine's grid in 2015. can you discuss a little bit and olson session how serious that is? >> atty gen sessions: i don't know if i can discuss the technological issues. it is disturbing that the russians continue to push
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hostile actions in their foreign policy. it is not good for the united states or the world or russia, in my opinion. >> do you believe 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 sufficiently. we do not have a sufficient strategy dealing with technological and i.t. penetrations of our system. i truly believe it's more important than i ever did before, and i appreciate your concern and leadership on the issue. in fact, all of congress is going to have to do better. >> the senator 's time has expired. the chair would recognize the vice chair. >> thank you, mr. chairman and attorney general sessions. i appreciate our last comments with senator mccain about the
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seriousness of the threat and it is why so many of us on the committee are concerned when the whole question of russian intervention. the president continues to refer to it as a witch hunt and fake news and there doesn't seem to be a recognition of the seriousness of the threat. i share the consensus that the russians massively interfered. they want to continue to interfere, not to favor one party or another but their own interests. it is of enormous concern that we have to hear from the administration how they're going to take it on. i also believe comments have been made here about where we had in terms of some of the trump associates who may have had contacts with russians. we have not gotten all that yet because of the unprecedented firing of the fbi director. that was leading this very same investigation.
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those members who i hope will equally pursue the very troubling amount of smoke, at least, that is out there between individuals that were affiliated with the trump campaign, possible ties with russia. we've not reached an occlusion. the final comment, and i understand your point. there were a series of comments made by mr. comey last week. i think members on the side of the aisle have indicated, understand executive privilege, understand a classified setting. i do think we need, as senator reid and senator harris indicated, if there are these long-standing written procedures about this 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 heads. at the end of the day, this is not only can you let me restate
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what i said, it is not about relitigating 2016. it's about finding out what happened, so the serious allegations and potential ties but making sure that the russians, who are not finished in terms of their activities, didn't end on election day 2016. we know it's ongoing and we have to be better prepared. >> atty gen sessions: one brief comment, if you mind. i do want to say that the top of the fbi should have no outcome on the investigation. >> there were a number of very strange comments that mr. comey testified last week that you could have shed some light on. >> general sessions, thank you again for your willingness to be here. not sure you knew it but your
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replacement sat here most of this hearing, luther strange. made us regret we don't have intramural basketball teams. >> atty gen sessions: big luther is a good round ball player. >> you have been asked a 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 recusal and the fact that you have never been briefed since day one on the investigation. you made clear you can't pink of any other conversations you've had with russian officials. you have covered in detail the conversation that you had, though brief, with director comey that he referenced after his private meeting with the president, just to name a few things i think you have helped
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us clear up. there were several questions that you chose not to answer because of confidentiality with the president. i would only ask you now to go back and work with the white house to see if there any areas of questions that they feel comfortable with you answering, and if they do, that you provide those answers in writing to the committee. i would also be remiss if i didn't remind you that those documents that you can provide for the committee, they will be helpful to us for the purposes of sorting timelines out, anything that substantiates your testimony today, individuals who might have been at events that you are familiar with, especially of those that worked for you would be extremely helpful. i want to thank you for your agreement to have a continuing dialogue with us, as we might need to ask some additional
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questions as we go a little further down the investigation. that certainly does not have to be a public hearing, but it may be an exchange and a dialogue we have. if you have helped us tremendously, and we are grateful to you for the unbelievable sacrifice you made in this institution and administration. this hearing is adjourned. >> attorney general jeff sessions testifying for about two hours, 23 minutes in front of the senate intelligence committee. continuing coverage here on fox news channel. this is a special two hour breaking news version of "special report." we will focus much of our time on the testimony from the attorney general jeff sessions about these russia investigations, his pushback, vigorous pushback at times. at times, fiery q&a, answers saying he was being accused of something he did


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