tv News Sessions Senate Testimony ABC June 13, 2017 11:39am-2:08pm PDT
this is an abc news special report. attorney general jeff sessions testifies. now reporting, george step nop plis. >> another high stakes hearing on capitol hill, today's witness the attorney general jeff sessions, james comey appeared last week and he will be facing a lot of questions raised by the comey testimony, about his contacts with russia, the attorney general admitted to two contacts with russian ambassador. the possibility raised last week of a third not disclosed before. also, what role he may have played in the firing of the attorney general james comey even though he recused himself from anything having to do with the russia investigation and of
course president trump himself said he had russia on his mind when he fired james comey. you see the hearing room right now. our congressional correspondent mary bruce is there on the scene today and mary, as i said, you're going to be getting questions to the attorney general that were seated by james comey last week. >> any moment now we're going to see the attorney general sit down behind me at this desk and so many of the questions he's going to be asked today are directly linked to what james comey said in this exact same spot five days ago. jeff sessions recused himself from the russian investigation back in march citing those close ties to the campaign but of course comey hinted there was more to it. they want to know why comey said sessions' involvement in the russian investigation would be problematic of the they are going to be drilling down, get down to the meetings with the russian ambassador during the campaign. we know there were two meetings he failed to disclose.
they want to know if there's a third meeting and also any role played in comey's firing even though it came after he recused himself from the investigation. it's worth noting that sessions was not originally going to be testifying here. he was supposed to be at another hearing across the way but decided he wanted to speak to this panel and openly in front of the american people to address these questions head on. the remaining question is how forthcoming will he be today? >> we saw richard burr greet attorney sessions along with mark warner, the ranking democrat on the committee, hug for general sessions' wife as well. i want to bring you in from the white house senator sessions the first senator to endorse president trump during the campaign candidate trump during the campaign but the president has been angry about the recusal from the russian investigation. >> reporter: there's been tension in the white house over this, george, the president not happy that sessions rekcused himself back in march.
sessions in the wake of that had openly talked in the white house about the possibility of submitting a resignation that obviously has not happened. the president right now is on his way to wisconsin. he's in the air on air force one. the tvs on the airplane are on cable news. it's highly likely the president will be watching. i had been told he planned to watch this and carefully paying attention. >> we just heard the gavel from richard burr, let's listen in. >> attorney general sessions, appreciate your willingness to appear before the committee today, thank you for your years of dedicated service as a member of this body and your recent leadership at the department of justice. as i mentioned when director comey appeared before us last
week, this committee's role is to be the eyes and ears for the other 85 members of the united states senate and for the american people ensuring that the intelligence community is operating lawfully and has the necessary tools to keep america safe. the community is large and diverse place. we recognize the gravity of our investigation into russia's interference in the 2016 u.s. elections but i remind our constituents that while we investigate russia, we are scrutinizing ci a's budget while investigating russia, we're still scrutinizing the budget and nsa 702 program and our nation satellite program and the entire ic effort to recruit and retain the best talent we can find in the world. more often than not the committee conducts its work behind closed doors. a necessary step to ensure our most sensitive sources and
methods are protected. the sanctity of these sources and methods are at the heart of the intelligence community's ability to keep us safe and to keep our allies safe from those who seek to harm us. i've said repeatedly that i do not believe any committee -- that the committee does should be done in public. but i also recognize the gravity of of the committee's current investigation and the need for the american people to be presented the facts so that they might make their own judgments. it is for that reason that this committee has now held its tenth open hearing of 2017, more than double that of the committee in recent years and the fifth on the topic of russian interference. attorney general sessions, this venue is your opportunity to separate fact from fiction. and to set the record straight on a number of allegations
reported in the press. for example, there are several issues i'm hopeful we'll address today. one, did you have any meetings with russian officials or their proxies on behalf of the trump campaign or as your time as attorney general. two, what was your involvement with candidate trump's foreign policy team and what were their possible interactions with russians? three, why did you decide to recuse yourself from the government russia investigation? and fourth, what role if any, did you play in the removal of then fbi director comey? i look forward to a candid and honest discussion as we continue to pursue the truth behind russia's interference in the 2016 elections. the committee's experienced staff is interviewing the relevant parties and having spoken to more than 35 individuals to date to include just yesterday an interview of former homeland security secretary jeh johnson and also
continue to review some of the most sensitive intelligence in our country's possession. as i've said previously, we will establish the facts, separate from rampant speculation and lay them out for the american people to make their own judgment. only then will we as a nation be able to put this episode to rest and look to the future. i'm hopeful that members will focus their questions today on the russia investigation and not squander the opportunity by taking political or partisan shots. the vice chairman and i continue to lead this investigation together on what is a highly charged political issue. we may disagree at times but remain a unified team with a dedicated focused and professional staff working tirelessly on behalf of the american people to find the truth. the committee has made much progress as the political winds blow forcefully around us and i think all members would agree
that despite a torrent of public debate on who and what committee might be best suited to lead on this issue, the intelligence committee has lived up to its obligation to move forward with purpose and above politics. mr. attorney general, it's good to have you back. i would now turn to the vice chairman for any remarks he might have. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i want to also thank the way we're proceeding on this investigation. mr. attorney general, it's good to see you again and we appreciate the appearance on the heels of mr. comey's revealing testimony last week. i do though want to take a moment at the outset and first express some concern with the process by which we're seeing you, the attorney general today. it's my understanding that you were originally scheduled to testify in front of the house and senate appropriations committees today. i know those appearances have been canceled to come here
instead. while we appreciate his testimony, before our committee, i believe and i speak -- i believe i speak for many of my colleagues, that i believe he should also answer questions from members of those committees and the judiciary committee as well. mr. attorney general, it's my hope that you will reschedule those appearances as soon as possible. in addition, i want to say at the outset, while we consider your appearance today as just the beginning of our interaction with you and your department, mr. attorney general, we always expected to talk to you as part of our investigation. we believed it would be actually later in the process. we're 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 make yourself available as necessary to this committee for as the chairman has indicated this very important investigation. now let's move to the subject of today's discussion.
let's start with the campaign. you were an early and ardent supporter of mr. trump and march named charnl of the national security advisory committee. you were much more than a surrogate, strategic adviser who helped shape much of the campaign's national security strategy. no doubt, you will have key insights about some of the key trump associates that we're seeking to hear from in the weeks ahead. questions have also been raised about some of your own interactions with russian officials during the campaign. during your confirmation hearing in january you said, quote, you did not have communications with russians. senator leahy later asked you in writing whether you had been in contact with anyone connected to any part of the russian government about the 2016 election. you answered i believe with the definitive no. despite that 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 ambassador. yet, there's also been some public reports of a possible third meeting at the may flower hotel on april 27th. i hope that today you will help clear up those discrepancies and we also expect and this is very important, that you'll be able to provide the committee with any documents we need to shed light on thissish w issue, such e-mails or calendars. then there's a topic of the firing of former fbi director comey. last thursday we received testimony from mr. comey under oath he outlined his very troubling interactions with the president as well as the circumstances of his firing. a few disturbing points stood out. first, mr. comey who has decades of experience at the department of justice and at the fbi, serving under presidents of both
parties, was so unnerved by the actions of the president that he felt, quote, compelled to fully document every interaction they had. mr. comey sat where you're 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 top law enforcement officials. we also heard that director comey took it as a direction from the president that he was to drop the fbi's investigation into former national security adviser mike flynn. finally we heard from mr. comey that he believes he was fired over his handling of the russia investigation. the president himself confirmed this in statements to the media. this is deeply troubling for all of us who believe on both sides of the aisle in preserving the independence of the fbi. we have a lot of work in order
to follow up on these alarming disclosures. mr. attorney general, your testimony today is an opportunity to begin the process of asking those questions. for instance, again, know others will ask about this, you recused yourself from the russia investigation and yet you participated in the firing of mr. comey over the handling of that same investigation. we'll want to ask you about how you view your recusal and whether you believe you complied with it fully. in addition we heard from mr. comey last week that the president asked you to leave the oval office so he could speak one on one with mr. comey. again, a very concerning action. we will need to hear from you about how you review -- viewed the president's request and whether you thought it was appropriate. we'll also want to know if you are aware of any attempts by the president to enlist leaders in the intelligence community to undermine this very same russian investigation. most importantly, our committee
will want to hear what you are doing to ensure that the russians or any other foreign adversaries cannot attack our democratic process like this ever again. i'm concerned that the president still does not recognize the severity of the threat. he to date has not even acknowledged the unanimous conclusions of the u.s. intelligence community that russia massively intervened in our elections. the threat we face is real and it's not limited to us. the recent events in france give a stark reminder that all western democracies must take steps to protect themselves. i believe the united states can and must be a leader in this effort but all require our administration to get serious about this. finally in the past several weeks, we've seen a concerning pattern of administration officials refusing to answer public unclassified questions about allegations about the
president in this investigation. we had a hearing with this subject last week, i want to commend the chairman who at the end of that hearing made very clear that our witnesses -- it was not acceptable for our witnesses to come before congress without answers. the american people deserve to know what's going on here. thank you, i look forward to the witness's testimony. >> thank you. attorney general sessions, if you would stand, i will administer the oath to you. raise your right hand if you would please. do you solemnly swear to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth so help you god? >> i do. >> please be seated. thank you attorney general sessions. the floor is yours. >> thank you much -- very much chairman burr and ranking member warner for allowing me to publicly appear before your committee today. i appreciate the committee's critically important efforts to investigate russian interference with our democratic processes.
such interference can never be tolerated and i encourage every effort to get to bottom of any such allegations. as you know, the deputy attorney general has appointed a special counsel to investigate the matters related to the russian interference in the 2016 election. i'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 enables me to do so. but as i advise you, mr. chairman and consistent with longstanding department of justice factors, i cannot and will not violate my duty to protect the confidential communications i have with the president. now let me address some issues directly. i did not have any private meetings nor do i recall any conversations with any russian
officials at the mayplflower hotel. did not attend any meetings at that event separate. prior to this 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 pre-speech reception. i do not have any recollection of meeting or talking to the russian ambassador or any other russian officials. if any brief interaction occurred in passing with the russian ambassador during that reception, i do not remember it. after the speech, i was interviewed by the news media and there was an area for that in a different room and then i left the hotel. but whether i ever attended a reception, where the russian ambassador was also present is entirely beside the point of this investigation into russian interference in the 2016 campaign. let me state this clearly,
colleagues. i have never met with or had any conversation with any russians 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 at least 20 years, at least some of you, and the suggestion that i participated in any collusion, that i was aware of any collusion with the russian government to hurt this country, which i have served with honor for 35 years or to undermine the integrity of our democratic process is an appalling and 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 part of this body but former colleagues, 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 community, had advised president-elect trump, quote, that there was a continuing exchange of information during the campaign between trump's surrogates and intermediaries for the russian government, close quote. i was taken aback by that explosive allegation, which he said was being reported as breaking news that very day, in which i had not heard. i wanted to refute that
immediately. any suggestion that i was part of such an activity. i replied, quote, to senator franken this way, quote, senator franken, i'm not aware of any of those activities. i have been called a surrogate a time or two in that campaign and i did not -- didn't have -- did not have communications with the russians and i'm unable to comment on it, close quote. that was the context in which i was asked the question and in that context my answer was a fair and correct response to the charge as i understood it. i was responding to this allegation that we had met surrogates had been meeting with the russians on a regular basis. simply did not occur to me to go further than the context that i may have had with russians in routine situations as i had had many routine
situation -- meetings with other foreign officials. so please hear me now. and it was only in march after my confirmation hearing that a reporter asked my spokesperson whether i had ever met with any russian officials. this was a first time that question had squarely been posed to me. on the same day, we provided that reporter with the information related to the meeting that i and my staff had held in my senate office with ambassador 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 ambassador meetings that i had during 2016. in addition, i provided supplemental testimony to the senate judiciary committee to explain this event.
so i readily acknowledge these two meetings and certainly not one thing happened that was inproper in 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 on thursday, february 9. the very next day, as i had promised to the judiciary committee i would do, at least in an early date, i met with career department officials including senior -- a senior ethics official to discuss some things publicly reported in the press that might have some bearing on whether or not i should recuse myself in this case. from that point, february 10th, until i announced my formal recusal march 2, i was never briefed on any investigative
details, did not access any information about the investigation. i received only the limited information that the department's career officials determined was necessary for me to form and make a recusal decision. as such, i have no knowledge about this investigation as it is ongoing today beyond what's been publicly reported. i don't even read that carefully and i have taken no action whatsoever with regard to any such investigation. on the date of my formal recusal, my chief of staff sent an e-mail to the heads of relevant departments, including by name to director comey of the fbi, to instruct them to inform their staffs of this recusal and to advise them not to brief me or involve me in any way in any such matters. and 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 a department of justice regulation, 28-cfr-45.2. i felt required it. that regulation states in effect that department employees should not participate in investigations of a campaign if they served as a campaign adviser. so the scope of my recusal, however, does not and cannot interfere with my ability to oversee the department of justice. including the fbi which has a $8 billion budget 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 general's memorandum on that issue. which had been released publicly by the white house. those represent a clear statement of my views. i adopted deputy attorney general rosenstein's points 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 rend ter 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, mr. comey discussed a conversation that he and i had about the meeting mr. comey had with the president.
i'm happy to share with the committee my recollection of that conversation that i had with mr. comey. following a routine morning threat briefing, mr. comey spoke to me and my chief of staff. while he did not provide me with any of the substance of his conversation with the president, apparently the day before, mr. comey expressed concern about proper communications protocol with the white house and with the president. i responded. he didn't recall this but i will -- i responded to his comment by agreeing that the fbi and the department of justice needed to be careful to follow department policies regarding appropriate contacts with the white house. mr. comey had served in the department for better than two decades. and i was confident that he understood and would abide by the well established rules
limiting communications with the white house, especially about ongoing investigations. that's what's so important to control. my comments encouraged him to do just that and indeed as i understand it he, in fact, did that. our department of justice rules on proper communications between the department and the white house have been in place for years. mr. comey well knew that i thought and assumed that he complied with them. so i'll finish with this. i recused myself from any investigation into the campaign for president but i did not recuse myself from defending my honor against scourless and false allegations. at all times throughout the campaign, the confirmation process and becoming attorney general, i have dedicated myself to the highest standards. i have earned a reputation for
that. at home and in this body, i believe. over decades of performance. the people of this country expect an honest and transparent government and that's what we're giving them. this president wants to focus on the people of this country to ensure they're treated fairly and kept safe. the trump agenda is to improve the lives of the american people. i know some have different ways of achieving this and different agendas but that is his agenda and it's one 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 the fair administration of justice. and i intend to work every day with our fine team and the superb professionals in the department of justice to advance the important work we have to do. these false attacks, innuendos,
the leaks, you can be sure will not intimidate me. in fact, these events have only strengthened by 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 in this country are rising faster than ever recorded. last year was 52,000. "the new york times" just estimated next year will be 62,000 overdose deaths. murder rate is up over 10%. the largest increase since 1968. together, we are telling the gangs, the cartels, the fraudsters and the terrorists, we are coming after you. every one of our citizens, no matter who they are or where
they live, has the right to be safe in their homes and communities. i will not be deterred. i will not allow this great department to be deterred from its vital mission. thank you, mr. chairman, ranking member warner. i have a great honor to appear before you today and i'll do my best to answer your questions. >> attorney general sessions, thank you. thank you for that testimony. i'd like to note for members the chair and the vice chairman will be recognized for ten minutes. members will be recognized for five minutes and i would like to remind our members we are in open session. no reference to classified or committee sensitive materials should be used relative to your questions. with that, i recognize at this time for ten minutes. general sessions, you talked
about the mayflower hotel where the president gave his first foreign policy speech and it's been covered in the press that the president was there. you were there. others were there. from your testimony, you said you don't remember whether ambassador kislyak was there, the russian ambassador. is that correct? >> i did not remember that. i did not remember that. but i understand he was there. and so i don't doubt that he was. i believe that representations are correct. in fact, i recently saw a video of him coming into the room. >> but you never remember having a conversation or a meeting with ambassador kislyak? >> i do not. >> there was no that event was there ever a private room setting that you were involved in? >> no. other than the reception area. that was shut off from -- i guess the main crowd.
a couple of dozen -- two to three dozen people. >> i would take for granted at an event like this the president shook some hands. >> yes. he came in and shook hands in the group. >> okay. you mentioned that there were some staff that were with you at that event. >> my legislative director at the time. >> your senate staff? >> senate legislative director who was a retired u.s. army colonel who had served on the armed services staff with senator john warner before she joined my staff was with me in the reception area and throughout the rest of the events. >> would you say that you were there as a united states senator or as a surrogate of the campaign for this event? >> i came there as an interested person, very anxious to see how president trump would do in his first major foreign policy address. i believe he'd only given one major speech before.
that was maybe at the jewish apac event so it was an interesting time for me to observe his delivery and the message he would make. that was my main purpose of being there. >> now, you reported two other meetings with ambassador kislyak, one in july on the sidelines of the republican convention, i believe. and one in september in your senate office. have you had any other interactions with government officials over the year in a campaign capacity? i'm not asking you from a standpoint of your senate life but in the campaign capacity. >> no, mr. chairman. i've stretched my -- racked my brain to make sure to answer those questions correctly and i did not. i would just offer for you that the -- when ask about whether i had had any meetings with russians by the reporter in
march, we immediately recalled the conversation, the encounter i had at the convention and the meeting in my office and made that public. i never intended not to include that. i would have gladly had reported the meeting, the encounter that may have occurred that some say occurred in the mayflower if i had remembered it or if it actually occurred which i don't remember that it did. >> general sessions, on march 2nd, 2017, you formally recused yourself from any involvement in the russian investigation being conducted by the fbi and the department of justice. what are the specific reasons that you chose to recuse yourself? >> well, the specific reason, mr. chairman, is the cfr code of federal regulations put out by the department of justice, part of the department of justice
rules, and it says this. i'll read from it. 28 cfr 45.2, unless authorized, no employee shall participate in a criminal investigation or prosecution if he has a personal or political relationship with any person involved in the conduct of an investigation. it goes on to say for political -- in a political campaign and it says if you have a close identification with an elected official or a candidate arising from service as a principle adviser, you should not -- you should not participate in an investigation of that campaign. >> so would you -- >> so many have suggested that my 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 recused myself. i felt i was required to under the rules of the department of justice and as and a leaders of the department of justice i should comply with the rules obviously. >> does your legal counsel know from day one you would have to recuse yourself from this investigation because of the current statute. >> i have a time line of what occurred. i was sworn in on the 9th, i believe, of february. i then -- on the 10th had my first meeting to generally discuss this issue where the cfr was not discussed. we had several other meetings and it became clear to me over time that equal fid as a significant -- a personal adviser-type person to the campaign and it was the appropriate and right thing for
me to recuse myself. >> this could explain director comey's comments there was a likelihood you would recuse yourself because he was likely with the same statute. >> probably so. i'm sure that the attorneys in the department of justice probably communicated with him because mr. chairman, let me say this to you, clearly, in effect, as a matter of fact, i recused myself that day. i never received any information about the campaign. i thought there was a problem with me being able to serve as the attorney general over this issue and i felt i would possibly have to recuse myself. and i took the position correctly, i believe, not to involve myself in the campaign in my way and i did not. >> you made a reference to your chief of staff sending out an e-mail immediately notifying
internally of your decision to recuse. would you ask your chief of staff to make that e-mail available? >> i think i have it with me now. >> thank you, general sessions. have you had interaction with special counsel robert mueller since his appointment. >> i have not. with regard to the e-mail, director comey, indicated that he did not know that when i recused myself or didn't receive notes, one of those e-mails went to him by name, so a lot happens in our offices i'm not accusing him of any wrongdoing, but in fact it was sent to him and to his name. >> okay, general sessions, as you said, mr. comey testified at length before the committee about his interactions with the president in some cases, highlighting your presence at those meetings and you addressed the meeting where all were asked to leave except for director comey and heed a private meeting with the president.
and you said that he did inform you of how uncomfortable that was and your recommendation was that the fbi and doj needed to follow the rules limiting fourth correspondence, did director comey ever express additional discomfort with conversations that the president might have had with him because he had two additional meetings and, and a total of six phone calls? >> that is correct. there's nothing wrong with the president having an a communication with the fbi director, what's problematic for any department of justice employee is to talk to any cabinet persons or white house officia officials, high officials, about ongoing investigations that are not properly cleared through the top levels of the department of justice and so, it was a
regulation i think that's healthy. i thought we needed and strongly believe we needed to restore discipline within our department to adhere to just those kind of rules. plus leaking rules and some of the other things i think are a bit laxed and need to be restored. >> you couldn't have had a conversation with the investigation because you never briefed on the investigation. >> that's correct. i would note with regard to the private meeting that director comey had, by his own admission, i believe there's as many six such meetings, several with president trump, i think he had two with president obama, it's not improper per se it wouldn't be justified for a department official to share information about an ongoing investigation without prior review and clearance from above. >> general sessions, one last question, you were the chair of
this foreign policy team for the trump campaign, to the best of your knowledge, did that team ever meet? >> we met a couple times, maybe, some of the people did. we never functioned frankly, mr. chairman, as a coherent team. we had various -- any members of that team you never met? >> yes. >> okay. vice chairman. >> thank you, general sessions. as i mentioned in my opening statement we appreciate your appearance here but we do see this as the first step and we would like to get this commitment yourse'll make yours available in the weeks ahead. >> senator warner, i commit to appear in front of this committee as appropriate. i don't think it's a good policy
to continually bring cabinet members in front of multiple committees. >> let me ask you about this committee can we get your commitments since there will be questions about some of these meetings that took place or not, that we could get access to documents, memoranda. >> mr. chairman, we'll be glad to provide appropriate responses to your questions and review them carefully. >> yesterday, a friend of the president was reported suggesting that president trump was considering removing director mueller as special counsel. do you have confidence in director mueller's ability in conducting this investigation? >> i don't know about these reports. i have no basis -- >> i'm asking you, sir --
>> i have known mr. mueller over the years. he served 12 years as fbi director. i knew him before that and i have confidence in mr. mueller. >> you have confidence. >> but i'm not going discuss any hypotheticals or what mate be a factual situation in the future. >> do you believe the president has confidence in director mueller? >> i have no idea. >> if we commit to this committee not to take any personal actions that might result in director mueller's firing or dismissal? >> well, i think i probably could say that with confidence. because i'm recused from the investigation. in fact the way it works, senator warner, is that the acting attorney general. >> i just wanted to get you on the record you would not -- with your recusal you would not take
any actions to try to have special investigator mueller involved. >> i don't think that would be appropriate for me to do. >> to your knowledge, have any department of justice officials been involved with conversations about any possibilities of presidential pardons about any individuals involved in the russia investigation. >> mr. chairman, i'm not able to comment on conversations with high officials within the white house. that would be a violation of the communications rule that i have to adhere to. >> just so i can understand, is the basis of that unwillingness to answer based on executive privilege. >> it's a longstanding policy the department of justice not to comment on conversations that the attorney general has had with the president of the united states for confidential reasons
that really are founded in the co-equal branch, powers and the constitution of the united states. >> so, does that mean are you claiming executive privilege here today. >> i'm not claiming executive privilege because that's the president's power. >> what about conversations with other department of justice and white house officials about potential pardons, not the president, sir. >> mr. chairman, without any way suggesting that i have had any conversation s involving pardon, there are privileges of communications within the department of justice that we share all of us do. we have the right to have debate within the department. we encourage people to speak up and argue cases on different sides. those arguments shouldn't be revealed. >> i'd hope you would agree, if
the president or others would pardon someone during the midst during this investigation, while our investigation that would be i think would be problematic. one of the comments you made in your testimony was that you reached this conclusion about the performance of then-director comey's ability to lead the fbi, that you agreed with deputy attorney general rosenstein's memo. did you ever have a conversation as a superior of director comey about his failure to perform, some of these accusations he wasn't running the fbi in a good way did you have any conversations with director comey about those csubjects? >> no, i did not.
>> so you're his superior, some very harsh things said about director comey, you never thought it was appropriate to raise those concerns before he was terminated by the president. >> i did not do so. a memo was prepared by the deputy attorney general. who evaluated his performance, noted some serious problems withes it. >> and you awe greed with those -- >> i greed with those. in fact, senator warner, we talked about it before i was confirmed and he was confirmed. something that we both agreed to, a fresh start at the fbi was probably the best thing. >> again, it seems a little -- i could understand that if you talked about that before you came on, a chance for a fresh start, there was no fresh start. suddenly we're in the midst of an investigation, time that seems peculiar, out of the blue
the president fires the fbi director and if there are all these problems of disarray and a lack of accord at the fbi, all things that the acting fbi director denied was the case i thought someone would have had that conversation with director comey. let's go to the april 27th meeting. brought up, the chairman brought it up. by the time april 27th had come around you were named the chair of then-candidate trump's national kunation n national security adviser -- >> that was at the mayflower hotel. >> yes, sir. the president son-in-law jared kushner was at that meeting. >> i believe he was. >> you don't recollect if mr. kushner had any meetings with ambassador kislyak? >> i don't.
>> certainly, i can assure nothing improper if i had a conversation with him and it's conceivable that occurred. i just don't remember. >> there's nothing in your notes or memories when you had a chance and you did, and appreciate correct the record about the other two sessions in response to senator franken and leahy, this one didn't pop into your mind, that you had to report this session as well. >> well, i guess i could say possibility have a meeting but i still do not recall it and i did not in any way fail to record something on -- in my testimony or in my subsequent letter, intentionally, false. >> i understand, sir. i'm just trying to understand when you corrected the record and clearly you had a chance to correct the record i would have thought that ambassador kislyak
was at that session. it received press notoriety. again, echoing what the chairman had said, again for the record, there was no other meeting with any other officials of the russian government during the campaign season. >> not to my recollection and i would just say with regard to the two encounters, one at the mayflower hotel that you referred to, i came in not knowing he was going to be there. i didn't have any recollection knowing he was going be there and i didn't have any communications with him before or after that event and likewise at the event at the convention i went off the convention grounds to a college campus for an event -- >> at the mayflower event -- >> i didn't know he would be in the audience and had no -- >> at the mayflower there was
this, i guess, vip reception first. >> that's my impression, my recollection. >> and you were part of the vip reception? >> yes. >> general sessions, one of the troubling things that i need to sort through is, mr. comey's testimony last week was that he felt uncomfortable when the president asked everyone else to leave the room, he left the impression that you lingered, perhaps a sense you felt uncomfortable about it as well, i'll allow you to answer if that's not the right impression. after this meeting took place, which clearly director comey felt had some level of uncomfortableness. you never asked director comey what took place in that meeting. >> well, i will say it this way, we were there i was standing
there. and 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. i believe it was the next day that he said something, expressed concern about being left alone with the president. but that in and of itself is not problematic. he did not tell me at that time any details about anything that was said that was improper. i afirnld his concern that we should be following the proper guidelines of the department of justice. in basically backed him up in his concerns and that he should not carry on any conversations with the president or anyone else about an investigation in a way that was not proper. i felt he -- so, former deputy
attorney general as i recall, knew those possibilities. >> thank you, chairman. it did appear that mr. comey felt that the conversation was improper. >> yes, he was concerned about it. and his recollection of what he said to me about his concern i don't -- is consistent with my recollection. >> senator risch. >> 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 who will disagree with the fact that we need to drill down to this, no what happened, kwet it out in front of the american people and do what we can do stop it again. this is what the committee started to do. on february 14th "the new york times" published an article alleging there were constant communications between the trump
campaign and the russians in collusion, regarding the election, do you recall that article when it came out? >> not exactly. >> generally? >> generally i remember those charges. >> mr. comey told us that when he was here last week, he had a very specific recollection. he chased it down through the intelligence committee. then he sought out both republicans and democrats to tell them that this was false, there was no such facts anywhere that cob rated with what "the new york times" reported. nonetheless, after this committee took that on one of the things we spent more time on that than we have on the russia active measures, we have been through thousand of pages of information, no different than where we were when this whole
thing started. are you aware of any such information from collusion? >> is that from the dossier in. >> i believe that's the report that senator franken hit me when i was testifying and i think has been substantially. continuing communications with russians as a surrogate is absolutely false. >> mr. sessions, there's been all this talk about conversations and you had some conversations with the russians, senators up here on either foreign relations, intelligence or armed services, conversations with officers of other governments or ambassadors or what have you, are everyday occurrences, is that a fair statement? >> i think it, yes.
>> if you run into one at the grocery store you'll have a conversation. >> it could very well happen. nothing improper. >> on the other hand, collusion with russians or any other government for that matter when it comes to our elections certainly would be improper and illegal, would that be a fair statement if. >> absolutely. >> are you willing to sit here and tell the american people unfiltered by what the media is going to put out, you participated in no conversations of any kind where there was collusion between the trump campaign and -- >> i can say that absolutely and i have no hesitation to do so. >> mr. sessions, former u.s. attorney, attorney general of the united states, you p participated in the trump campaign and as such you traveled with the campaign, i gather? >> i did. >> you spoke for the campaign -- >> on a number of occasions -- >> based upon your experience
and based upon your p participation in the campaign, did you hear a whisper, suggestion or anyone making reference within that campaign somehow the russians were involved with the campaign? >> no. >> what would you have said? >> this's a serious matter. what you're talking about, hacking into a private person or dnc computer and obtaining information and spreading that out that's just not right and i believe it's likely that laws were violated if that actually occurred. so it's an improper thing. >> mr. sessions, has any person from the white house or the administration including the president of the united states, either directed you or asked you to do any unlawful or illegal act since you've been attorney general of the united states?
>> no, senator risch. >> thank you, mr. chairman. senator feinstein. >> thanks very much, mr. chairman. welcome, attorney general. >> thank you. >> on may 19th, mr. rosenstein in a statement to the house of representatives, essentially told them that he learned on may 8th that president trump intended to remove director comey. when you wrote your letter on may 9, did you know that the president had already decided to fire director comey? >> senator finestein, i would say it's been made public that the president asked us our opinion, it was given and he asked us to put that in writing
and i don't know how much more he said about it than that. but i believe he has talked about it and i would let his words speak for themselves. >> well, on may 11th, on nbc "nightly news" two days later, the president stated he was going to fire comey regardless of the recommendation. i'm puzzled about the recommendation because the decision had been made. so, what was the need for you to write a recommendation? >> well, we were asked our opinion and when we expressed it which was consistent with the memoranda and the letter we wrote i felt comfortable in, i guess the department attorney general did, too, providing that information in writing. >> so, do you concur with the president that he was going to
fire comey regardless of recommendation because the problem was the russian investigation? >> senator fienstein, i'll have to let his words speak for himself. >> did you ever discuss director comey's fbi handling of the russia investigations with the president or anyone else? >> senator feinstein that would call for a communication between the attorney general and the president. i'm not able to comment on that. >> you're not able to answer the question here whether you ever discussed that with him? >> that's correct. >> and how do you view that since you discussed his termination, why wouldn't you discuss the reasons? >> well, those were put in
writing and sent to the president, he made those public, so he made that public. >> you had no verbal conversation with him about the firing of mr. comey. >> i'm not able to discuss with you, confirm or deny, the nature of private conversations that i may have had with the president on this subject or others. and i know that how this will be discussed and that's the rules. long adhered to by the department of justice. >> you're a longtime colleague, but we heard mr. coats and we heard admiral rogers say essentially the same thing when it was easy just to say, if the answer was no, no. >> it would have been easy 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 9 and you say the director of the fbi must be someone who follows faithfully the rules and sets the right example for law enforcement officials, therefore i must recommend that you remove director comey and identify a qualified individual of the great men and women of the fbi. do you really believe that this had to do with director comey's performance with the men and women of the fbi? >> there was a clear view of mine and of deputy attorney general rosenstein as he set out
at same length in his memoranda 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 was the appropriate thing to do. and when asked i said that to the president. it was something i had ahered to. when mr. comey declined the clinton prosecution, that was really a usurpination. it was a stunning development. the fbi is the investigative team they don't decide prosecution policies. that was a thunderous thing. he also commented at some length on the declamation on the
policy. policies have been historic. if you decline you decline and you don't talk about it. there other things that had happened that indicated to me a lack of discipline and it caused controversy on both sides of the aisle and i had come to the conclusion a fresh start was appropriate and didn't mind putting that in writing. >> my time is up. thank you very much. >> senator rubio, thank you for being here. back to february 14th. close the details on the loopholes. there was a meeting in the oval office on the 14th. at some point the meeting concluded. the president, everyone got up to leave, the president asked director comey to stay behind. >> that's the communication in the white house that i would not comment on. >> you remember him stay behind?
>> yes. >> his testimony was that you lingered and his view of it you lingered that you needed to say that was his characterization, do you remember lingering that you needed to stay? >> i do recall being one of the last ones to leave. >> did you decide to be one of the last ones to leave. >> i don't know. we had finished a terrorism -- counterterrorism briefing there, a number of people were there, people were filtering out, and i eventually left and i do recall that, i think, i was the last -- >> would you it be fair to say that perhaps you needed to stay because it involved the fbi director? >> well, i don't know how i would characterize that, senator rubio. i left, it didn't seem to me to be a major problem. i knew that director comey long time experienced in the department of justice could
handle it himself well. >> he characterized it, never leave me alone with the president again, it's not appropriate. this is his characterization, you kind of shrugged like, what am i supposed to do about it >> i think described more completely, correctly, he raised that issue with me, i believe, the next day. i think that was correct and he expressed concern to me about that private conversation. and i agreed with him essentially that there are rules about private conversations with the president. but there's no prohibition on a private discussion with the president as he acknowledged six or more himself with president obama and president trump. so i didn't feel like -- and he gave me no detail about what it was that he was concerned about.
>> so -- >> i didn't say i wouldn't be able to respond if he called me. he certainly knew that with regard -- that he could call his direct supervisor, in the department of justice, the direct supervisor coulds the deputy attorney general. i had no doubt that he would not yield to any pressure. >> do you know if the president records conversations in the oval office? >> i do not. >> let many ask you, if any president was to record conversations in their officially duties in the white house, any obligation to preserve those records. >> i don't know, senator rubio, probably so. >> i want to go to the campaign for a moment. as i'm sure you're aware, widely reported, the russian intelligence agencies often pose
not simply as an official but journalists, at any point during the campaign did you have any interaction in a hindsight you look back and they were trying to influence me? >> i don't believe in my conversations with the three times -- >> just in general? >> well, i met a lot of people, lot of foreign officials who wanted to argue their case for their country and to point out things that they thought were important. for their countries. that's a normal thing we talk about. >> but as far as someone who's not an official from another country, just a businessman, anyone walking down the street, struck you trying to find out what you were up to or the campaign was up to? >> i would have to rack my
brain. i don't recall it. >> you're on the foreign policy team, the republican platform was changed to not provide defensive weapons to ukraine, were you involved in that decision? >> i was not active in the platform committee, did not participate in that and don't think i had any direct involvement. >> do you know who did or any recollection, a debate about that issue internally in the campaign in. >> i never watched the debate. if it occurred on the platform committee. i think it did. so, i don't recall that, senator rubio, i'd have to think about that. >> thank you. thank you very much, mr. chairman. thank you for holding this hearing in open. in full view of the american people where it belongs. i believe the american people have had it with stone walling. americans don't want to hear
answers to relevant questions are privileged and off limits or they can't be provided in public or it would be, quote, inappropriate for witnesses to tell us what they know. we're talking about an attack on our democratic institutions. and stonewalling of any kind is unacceptable. and general sessions has acknowledged that there's no legal basis for this stonewalling. so, now, to questions. last thursday, i asked form er fbi director comey, about interactions with you, mr. comey said that your continued engage wmt the russian investigation was, quote, problematic. and he, mr. comey, could not discuss it in public. mr. comey also said fbi personnel 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 that you received only, quote, limited information necessary to inform your recusal decision. but given director comey's statement we need to know what that was, were you aware of any concerns that the fbi or else in government about your contacts with the russians or any other matters relevant to whether you should step aside from the russian investigation? >> senator wyden, i 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 confidential communications with the president of the united states who's entitled to receive confidential communications and your best judgment about a host
of issues. and after being accused of stonewalling for not answering them. secondly, mr. comey perhaps he didn't know but i basically recused myself the day, 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. the documentation, what little i received, was mostly already in the media and was presented by the senior ethics public responsibility in the department and i made an honest and proper decision to recuse myself as i told senator feinstein and the members of the committee i would do when they confirmed me. >> general sessions, respectfully, you're not answering the question. >> what is the question? >> the question is, mr. comey
said that there were matters with respect to the recusal that were problematic and he couldn't talk about them. what are they? >> why don't you tell me. there are none, senator wyden. there are none. this is a secret innuendo being leaked out there about me. i don't appreciate it. i try to give my best and truthful answers. it's really -- people are suggesting, through innuendo i haven't been honest about matters. >> my time is short. you think mr. comey is digging in innuendo. >> he said it was problematic.
>> some of that leaked out of the committee that he said in closed sessions. >> okay, one more question, i asked former fbi director whether your role in firing him violated your recusal. president fired comey because of the russian investigation. direct director comey said this was a reasonable question. point-blank, why did you sign the letter recommending the firing of director comey when it violated your recusal? >> it didn't violate my recusal. it didn't violate my recusal. that would be the answer to that and the letter that i signed represented my views that had been formulated for some time. >> mr. chairman, if i can finish, that answer in my view that doesn't pass the smell test. the president tweeted repeatedly about his anger about investigations into his
associates and russia. the day before you wrote your letter, he said the collusion was a total hoax. i don't think your answer passes the smell test. >> senator, i think i should be a i loud to briefly respond at least and would say the letter, the memoranda that senator deputy rosenstein represented my views of the situation. >> thank you, mr. chairman. senator, collins >> thank you, mr. chairman. >> attorney general sessions, i want to clarify who did what with regard to the firing of mr. comey. first of all, let me ask you when did you have your first conversation with rod rosenstein
about mr. comey? >> we talked about it before either one of us were confirmed. it was a topic of, you know, conversation about among people who had served in the department a long time they knew that what has happened that fall was pretty dramatically unusual. many people felt it was very wrong. and so, it was in that context that we discussed it and we both found that we shared a common view that a fresh start would be appropriate. >> and this was based on mr. comey's handling of the investigation involving hillary clinton and what he usurp the authority of prosecutors at the department of justice? >> yes. that was part of it. and the commenting on the investigation. in ways that go beyond the proper policies. we need to restore, senator
collins, the classic discipline in the department. my team, we have discussed this, there's been too much leaking and too much talking publicly about investigations. in the long run, the department historic rule that you remain mum about ongoing investigations is the better policy. >> now, subsequently, the president asked for you to put your views in writing, you testified today, and i believe that you're 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 and obviously this went back many months to the earlier conversations you had had with mr. rosenstein, but my question is, why do you believe that your recommendation to fire director
comey was not inconsistent with your march 2nd recusal. >> thank you, the recusal involved one case, involved in the department of justice and the fbi and 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 department is run properly, i have to make difficult decisions. and i do not believe that it's a sound position to say that if you're recused for a single case involving any one of the great agencies of dea or atfs 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 do an interview with lester holt of nbc and would say that this russian thing was the reason for his decision to dismiss the fbi director, would you have felt uncomfortable about the timing of the decision? >> well, i would just say this, senator collins, i don't think it's appropriate to deal with those kind of hypotheticals. i have to deal in actual issues and i would respectfully not comment on that. >> well, let me ask you this, in retrospect, do you believe that it would have been better for you to have stayed out of the decision to fire director comey? >> i think it's my responsibility. i mean, i was a 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 had a duty to do so. >> now, 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 russia 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 this director had an obligation to bring the information about the president saying that he had hoped he could let michael flynn go, to someone else at the department of the justice? >> there are a lot of lawyers at the department of justice.
some 10,000 by last count. >> i think the appropriate thing would have been for director comey to talk with the acting deputy attorney general who's his director supervisor. that was dana boente, 33 years in the department of justice and was even then still serving for six years and continues to serve as attorney general. appointed by president obama. he's man of great integrity. if he had concerns i think he should have raised it to department attorney general boente, the appropriate person in any case, really, but if he had any concern that i might be recusing myself that might be a double reason to share it with him. >> thank you. attorney general sessions, has the president ever expressed
his decision abo-- >> i'm not any discuss. >> because you're evoking executive privilege. >> my understanding is, 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 questions. you're impeding this investigation. so, my understanding of the legal standard is that you either answer the question that's the best outcome. you say this classified, can't answer it here. i'll answer it in closed session. bucket number three is to say i'm evoking executive privilege. it's not a legal standard. can you tell me what are these longstanding doj rules that
protect conversations made in the executive without evoking executive privilege. >> i'm protecting the president's constitutional right by not giving it give away before he has a chance to -- secondly, i'm having the truth in answering your question in saying it's longstanding policy of the department of justice. >> are those policies written? >> to make sure the president has a full opportunity t invest. and you're obstructing that congressional investigation by not answering these questions. and i think you're silenced, like the silence of director coats, like rogers, speaks volume. >> i have consulted with career senior attorneys. this is consistent with my duty and senator risch asked you a
question about appropriateness if you had known anything untoward with regard to russia and the campaign, would you have headed to the exits. your answer was maybe. why wasn't it a simple yes. >> an illegal relationship in an effort to impede or influence this campaign i absolutely would have departed. >> that's a good question. i find it strange neither you nor deputy attorney general rod ros rosenstein brought up performance issues with director comey and mccabe has refuted any assertion there were performance issues, this is proubling because it appears that the president decided to fire director comey because he was pursuing the russia investigation and had asked you
to come up with an excuse, when your assessment of director comey didn't hold up to public scrutiny, he finally admitted he fired comey because of the russia investigation. it appears that his firing was directly related to russia. not departmental mismanagement. how do you square those two things? >> well, a lot in that question. let me say first, within a week or so, i believe may 3rd, director comey testified that he believed the handling of the clinton deckly nation was proper and appropriate and he would do it again. that was a great concern to both of us because it did not -- that
represented something that i think most professionals in the department of justice would totally agree that the fbi investigative agency does not decide whether to prosecute or decline cases of the responsibility of the attorney general. so, that's how we felt, that was sort of additional concern that we had heading the fbi someone boldly asserted to make those decisions. that's one of the things that we discussed. that was in the memorandum and also an important factor for us. >> before i recognize senator blunt. i'd 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 question and i think it was thoroughly answered and all members were given an opportunity to ask him. senator blunt. >> thank you, general. it's good to see you here together and know that your family continues to be proud and supportive of what you do. >> thank you, i've been blessed, indeed. >> i agree with that. let me get a couple of things clear in my mind here, notes i have taken. and you were talking on the april 27th, 2016, event, that's the mayflower hotel speech that the presidential candidate gave
on foreign policy, you didn't have a room at that event where you had private meetings, did you? >> no, i did not. >> as i understand it, you went to a reception that was attended by how many people? >> i think two to three dozen. >> two to three dozen people. you went and heard a speech and might have seen people on your way out. >> correct. >> when you said you possibly had a meeting with mr. kislyak, you possibly met him? >> i didn't have any formal meeting with him. i'm confident of that. but i may have had an encounter during the reception and that's the only thing that i can't say with certainty i did not. >> that's what i thought you were saying. >> you might have met him at the reception. could you have met other ambassadors at that reception as well?
>> i could. i remember one in particular that we had a conversation with, whose country had an investment in alabama. i remember that. otherwise, i have no recollection of a discussion with the russian ambassador. >> all right, so you were there, you read he was there but you had no room where you having meetings with individuals to have discussions at the playflower hotel that day? >> no. >> well, on -- when you talked to mr. comey after he had his meeting with the president, you think that was probably the next day you didn't stay afterwards and see him after he left the oval office that night? >> no, it happened right afterwards. but it was either the next morning which i think it was, or maybe the morning after that.
we had three-times a week on national security briefing with the fbi that i undertake and so it was after that we had that conversation. >> now, what i'm not quite clear on is, did you respond when he expressed his concern or not? >> yes, i did respond. i think he's incorrect. he indicated, i believe, that he was not totally sure of the exact wording of the meeting. but i do recall my chief of staff was with me and we recall i did affirm the longstanding 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're much better off if you do. they don't prohibit communications, one-on-one, by
the fbi director with the president, but if that conversation moves into certain areas it's the duty -- the rules apply to the department of justice. it's a duty of the fbi agent to say, mr. president, i can't talk about that. that's the way that should work. and apparently it did, because he said he did not improperly discuss matters with the president. >> when mr. comey talked to you about that meeting did he mention mr. flynn? >> no. he mentioned no factses of any kind. he didn't mention to me that he had been asked to do something he thought was in improper. he said he was comfortable, i believe. >> after that discussion with mr. comey -- >> actually, i don't know if he said if he was uncomfortable. maybe it was what he testified to was the exact wording. i don't dispute
>> it exactly, what i remember from him, you didn't react and you kind of shrugged. >> 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. or not go in an improper direction. >> finally, i'm assuming you wouldn't talk about this because it would relate to the may 8th meeting, but my sense is, no decision is final until it's carried out. my guess is, there are people here they would let someone go or fired somebody who never did that, the fact the president said that on may 8th doesn't 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 and chairman, i'll -- >> thank you. >> attorney general, thank you for joining us today. i respect your willingness to be here. you testified i'm not able to invoke executive privilege. has the president invoked executive privilege in this testimony? >> no, he's not the president has a constitutional -- >> but the president hasn't asserted it. >> you say you don't have the power to assert the power of executive privilege. what is the legal basis? >> i'm protecting the right of the president to assert if he chooses and maybe other privileges that could apply in this circumstance. >> well, i don't understand how
you can have it both ways. you testified only the president can assert it and yet i don't understand the legal basis for your refusal to answer. >> what we try to do, i think most cabinet officials, others that you questioned recent ly officials before the committee, protect the president's right to do so. if it comes to a point where the issue is clear and there's dispute about it, at some point, the president will either assert the privilege or not. or some other privilege can be -- would be asserted. but, at this point, i believe t it's premature for -- >> you're asserting the privilege of the president -- >> it would be premature for me to deny the president a full and intelligent choice about >> you testified a few minutes
ago that, quote, we were asked for our opinion. who asked for your opinion? >> you mean -- >> you testified, we were asked for our opinion. >> my understanding is, i believe i'm correct in saying that the president has said so. >> he didn't ask you directly? >> i thought you were asking about the privilege. >> no, no, i'm sorry. i'm saying, you said, quote, we were asked for our opinion, you and mr. rosenstein. >> i believe that was appropriate for me to say that because i think the president -- >> no, i'm just asking you, who asked you for your opinion? who asked you for your opinion? >> yes, right, the president asked for our opinion. >> so you just testified as to the content of the communication with the president? >> that's rrcoec bbelitev ie i' that. error, i would have constricted
his constitutional right of privilege. >> yoabout e'rthe use of -- >> no, i'm not intentionally. i'm doing so only because i he made that -- >> in any of your discussions with the president about the firing abodid the question of the russia investigation come up? >> if any such occurred, it would be a communication that he has not waived. >> but he has not asserted executive privilege? >> he assted executive privilege. >> do you believe the russians interfered with the 2016 tiecelons? intelligence communis to be united in that. but i have to tell you, senator king, i know nothing but what i've read in the paper. i've never received any detailed briefing on how a hngkiac how i alleged to have influenced the campaign. >> between the election, there was ada f t mor em intelligence community on
october 9th that detailed what th russians were doing after ele inauguration. you never sought any information about this rather dramatic attack on our country? >> no, i was -- ongfi t ari b intelligence reports? >> you might have been very critical of me if i, a c aampais seeking intelligence relating to something that might be ranevelt i'm not sure that would have been -- >> i'm not talking about the campaign. ta inrussians did. you've received no briefing on the russian active measures in connection with the 2016 ontiec? i don't believe i ever did. >> let's go to your letter of may 9th. you said, b my evaluation and for the reasons expressed by the deputy. was that a written evaluation? >> my evaluation was an ome months. hat had been going s >> is there a written
evaluation? >> i did not make one. i think you cldou deputy attorney general rosenstein's memoranda as an evaluation, one that -- and he was the direct supervisor of the fbi director. >> evaluation was based 100% on the handling of the hillary clinton e-mails, iatths r other e matters as i believe, but he did explicitly lay out the errors that he made in that process by the director of the fbi. i cogent t and accurate and far more significant than i think a lot of people have i didn't understand stood >> thank you, mr. chairman. . rdch>>ai lank rman. attorney general sessions, good to see you again. >> thank you. >> you speak as a man eager to set tstraight. you have spoken very plainly
from the very beginning from your opening statement all the wahi . hram tyough amazed at the conves as if an attorney general has never said there are private conversations and we don't need to discuss those. it seems to be a short memory ofout some ta shendntte would n make to any committee in the house or the senate andotur wn even requested that had to go all the way through to the court system untilinheourt havi toy,lyal tno, the president can't hold back documents and the attorney general can't do that. sosomehow, some accusation that you're not saying every conversation about everything, ths long historyer of attorney generals standing beside the president saying thermesoe ve care that are confidential and can be determined from s e.ll that eve unnamed source story somehow gets a hearing. i was in the hearing this with rod rose enstensteins a
request which originally you were scheduled to be at, that rod rosenstein was takingr place to be able toou cover. he was peppered with questions about russia during that conversation as well. he was very clear that he has never h with you about that and that you have never requested conversationsou. had was also peppered with questions of the latest rumor of the day, thaehist the president is thinking about firing robert mueller and getting rid of him and was very clear that rosenstein himself said i am the only one that could do that and i'm not and na where the latest othe day u is but somehow it's grabbing all the attention. i want to bring up a couple things to you define the word recuse. i come back to your e-mail that you sent to jim comey and oserth oonn march 2nd.
this is what you had said in your e-mail. after careful consideration following depaeertme mnt officials over t course of the past several weeks are the attorney general has decided to recusexisestim hing investigations of any matters related in any way to the campaigns for president oe itstates. the attorney general's recusal is not only with respect to such investigations if a b tony the responses to congressional and media inquiries related to such investigations. is that something you have maintained from march 2nd on? >> absolutely. actually, i maintained it from the first day i became attorney general. we discussed thoserste m i felt until and if i ever made ai should not, as abundance of utn studying the investigation or evaluating it, i did not.
also, i would note that the memoranda from my chief of staff agencies, and one of the people directly it was sent to was james bdirector of the fbi. you should instruct members of staffs to not brief the attorney general or any other officials in the officeth o abo otherwise involve the attorney general or other officials in the cefiofthf o ine any such m described above. >> and you haven't requested -- >> proper and firm crystal clear position that recusal meant to this april 27th meeting/nonmeeting in the same room at the same . ametied about this specifically at the time who was the host of that event. they stated the center for national interest decided whom to invite and the trumpaam c dnig approval the li.
guests included both democrats andlins with some among the latter supporting other candidates. center for nationalntt invited russian ambassador kislyak and several others. we regularlyassars and others to our events to facilitate dialogue. they stated we seatedll in the front row in deference to their diplomatic status. the center for extended equal treatment to the four investors and were invited to a srt trump's preach. the reception included approximately two dozeline. the line moved quickly. any conversations with mr. trump were brief and could not be private. ec interaction between mr. trump and ambassador kislyak was limited to polite exchange of pleasantries. we're not aware of any conversation between ambassador kislyak and senator jeff recept.
however, in a small group setting like this one, we consider it unlikely that anyone could have engaged in a meaningful, private conversation without drawing attention from others present. do you have any reason to disagree with that? >> no, i thinky fair description of the reception insi mtuadateion. that statement. >> great. i yield back. >> mr. chairman, thank you. thank you, mr. sessions for being here. >> thank you. >> i want to follow up a little on whatingenorat had asked concerning -- you and i are about the same vintage. we remember back ine our never government or the russian military to ever be our friend and weting things we wanted out of life. with that being se,riidsasnheess of t this russ hacking is very serious to me and concerning, and bee y'r briefed on that.when
it was known that the dni at that time, i think mr. m jeh j homeland security, made that public what was going on. then on december 29th, president obama at that time expelled 35as to two me pnpounds and broadened the existing sanctions. sir, i would ask, have you had any discussions or sat in on any type of meetings where recommendations were made to remove those>> don't r ecall an meeting. >> during the time not from the president being inaugurated on january 20th, prior to that in the campaign up until and through the transition, was there ever any meetings that he showed any concern or consideration or inquisitive of it? the russians we rely >> i don't recall any such
conversation. i'm not sure i understood your question. mae ybi wetere bte l part of thl security team so if he would have heard something about iacassrubi wlind aties and our about what they do to our election process, there any conversations concerning that whatsoever? >> i don't recall it, senator manchin. >>now it'ee bssk aned you, things about your executive privileges and protecting the president. i understand but also when we had mr. comey here, you know, he couldn't answer a lot of things in open session. session. would you be able to go in a closed session? would it change your answers t e frankly on some things we would want to know? >> senator manchin, i'm not sure the executive privilege is not cyam bederang g or in closed session. it may be that one of the concernsat when you have
an investigation ongoing as the specialouel does, it's often very problematic to have not cooperating with that counsel and the conduct of the investigation which may oay m f closed session. >> it would be very helpful. k e committee, there's a loi t of qinuestions they woulde to ask and i know that you would like to answer if possible and maybe weldou that further. sir, did you have any other meetings with russian government officials that have not been previously disclosed? >> i have racked my brain and i do not belie assure you that no those meetings discussed igtnlapu in the united states in any way, shape or form or any hacking or any such ideas like that. >> i'm going to go quickan ohrts government officials and any
trump campaign associates that have not been previously disclosed that you know of? >> i don't recall any. >> to thees bt of your knowledge did any of the following officials meet with russian officials during the campaign. paul manafort? >> repeat that now. >> to the best of your knowledge, sir, did any of these following individuals meet with russian officials at any point during the campaign? you can just give a yes or no or this. paul manafort? >> i don't have any information that he had done so. he served as campaign chairman for a few months. >> steve bannon? >> i have no information that he did. >> general michael flynn? >> i don't recall it. >> reince priebus? >> i don't recall. >> steve miller? >> i don't recall him ever having such a conversation. >> not cor recall any of those individuals having any meeting with russian officials. >> carter page?
>> i don't know. >> i would finally ask this question because i always think we get -- you have innate nowledge -- >> published accounts of mr. page talking with russians. i'm not sure. i don't recall. >> as a former senator you bring a unique perspective to this investigation because you've been on both sides. >> i have indeed. all i o that side. >> if you were sitting on this side -- >> nobody gets to ask you a boyour private conversations wi your staff. >> here we go. get your chance to give us some advice. if you were sitting onshi t daid you be asking? >> i would be asking whether or not -- i would be asking questions related to whether or not there was an impact on this election. >> what part of the story do you think we're missing? >> by a foreign power, particularly the russians, since the intelligence community has suggested and stated that they believe they did, but i do thin
offices to run, departments to manage, and they -- theshobeusn esquti that. >> is there a part of the story we're missing? i'm sorry, mr. chairman. is there a part of the story we'ron know because i'm not involved in the campaign and had no information concerning it. i have no idea at what stage it is. you members of the committee know a lot more than i. >> thank you, general sessions. >> general sessions, i will assure you we are very much focused on 'siass it. >> our hope is that as we complete this process we will lay those facts out for the american people so they caneak well. we're grateful for what you've done. senator cotton? >> i am on this side of the dais so i can say a very simple question that should be asked. did donald trump or any of his associates in the campaign collude with russia in hacking
those e-mails and releasing them th'sheree ? startpuedicbl six months ago. we have heard from six of the eight democrats on this committee, and to myk single on them asked that question. they've gone down lots of other rabbit trails but not that question. maybe that's because jim comey said last week that he said to donald trump on three times he investigation. maybe it's because multiple democrats on this committee have stated they have seen no evidence after six months of our investigation and 11 months of an fbi investigation of any collusion. i would suggest, what do we think happened at the mayflower? mr. sessions, are you familiar with what spies called trade craft? >> a little >> that involves things like covert communications and dead drops and brush passes, right? >> that's part of it. >> do you like spy fiction, daniel silva, jasonyeah, allen
ignatius. >> do you likeas j born or james bond movies? >> no -- yes, i do. >> have you ever in any of these fantastical situations heard of a plot line so ridiculous that a sitting united states s of a fo government colluded at an open setting with hundreds oer people to pullth o off the grea caper in the history? >>at, thank senator cotton. it's just like "hatht roish th? i explained how in good faith i ting i, as a surrogate, sues had been meeting continue slous with russians. now, the next thing you know, i'm accused of plotting some
sort of influence in the campaign of the american election. my capability to understand, and i really appreciate, mr. chairman, the opportunity to at least be aebl participate in that and know nothing about it. >> and i gather that' reas whyoue wanted to testify today in public. last week, mr. comey in rch theatrical fashion, alluded ominously to what you called innuendo, th there was some kind of classified intelligence that suggested you might have colluded with russia or that yod improperly. you have addressed those allegations here today. do you understand why he made that illusion? >> actually, i do not. nobody has provided me any information about that. >> thank you. i have a lot of questions. mr. blunt iyou had spoken in response to mr mr. comey's statement to you after his private meeting with
the president, you said that you did respond to mr. comey. mr. comey's testimony said that you did not. do you know why mr. comey would have said that you did not respond to him on that conversation with you on thuabrfe? >> i do not. there was a little conversation, not very long, but there was a conversation and i did respond b utev ierhaps not to did respond to him. i think in an appropriate way. >> do yno whyou mr. comey mistrusted president trump from aste lfirst meeting on january? week6th that he did, but he didn't state anything from tt meeting that caused him to have such mistrust. >> i'm not able to speculate on that. to the central crimes that we know have happened, leaks of certain information. here's a short list ofha w it the contents of alleged transcripts of alleged
conversations between r. m and mr. kislyak, the contents of president trump's phone calls with australian and mexican leaders, the content of mr. trump's meetings with the russian foreign minister and ambassador, the leak of the manchester bombing suspect's identity and crime scene photos and last week, within 20 of m mineeting with mr. comey, basis of what mr. comey's innuendo was. lea serious threa to our national security and is the department of justice taking them with the appropriate degree of seriossneusn i ultimately go prosecute them to the fullest extent of the law? ce.onfuwelou, senator cott e c hase very recently in georgia. that person has been denied bail, i believe, and is being heldn custody. but some of these leaks, as you well know, are extraordinarily dagimang the united states security, and we have got to restore a regular order principle.
we cannot have persons in our intelligence agencies, our investigative agencies o ir lea matters on staff. so this is a -- i'm afraid will result in -- is already resulting in,nd i fear that some people may find that they wish they hadn't leaked. >> thank u. has expired. for the record it was stated earlier tt theatfoeprmub wlias arms of ukraine. that was incorrect. and i would note the democratic president who refused repeated requests to supply those arms. >> attorney general sessions, you have several times this afternoon responses by saying to the best of your recollection. just on the t ttrsfi ogepaurf testimony, you wrote, nor do i recall, do not have recollection, do not remember
it. so my question , testimony toda refresh your memory with any written documents, be they your correspondence, e-mails, notes of any sort? so much of ed to refresh my this is inlele campaign of extraordinary nature that you're moving so fast that you don't keep notes. you meet people, i didn't keep notes of my conversation with r republican convention -- >> sir, i'd like to -- >> i'm saying i didn't keep tshese things. >> will you provide this committee with the notes that you did maintain? >> as appropriate,omttee with d >> can you please tell me what you mean when you say appropriate? >> ionlt with lawyers in the department who know the proper procedu
disclosing documents that are held within the department of justic i'm not able to make that opinion today. >> sir, i'm sure you prepared for this hearing today and most of the questesnsioted to you we predictable. so my question to you is, did you then review your department as the top lawyer are unaware,o share with us and not share with us, what is privileged and what is not privileged? >> we discussed theas b parameters of testimony. i frankly have not discussed documentary disclosure rules. >> will youak mae this committee that you will share any written correspondence, be they your calendars, core e-mails, or anything that has been reduced at any point in time in writing toshi where leg actually have an obligation to do so? >> i will commit to reviewing as -- when that issue is raised
to respondopriely. >> did you have any communications with russian officials for any reason during the campaign that haveot n disclosed in public or to this committee? >> i don't recall it. vehai t tell you, i cannot testify to what said as we standing at the republican convention before the podium where i spoke. >> my question is only ao t -- >> i don't have as memory of that. >> to your knowledge, did you have any c any russian businessmen or any russian nationals? >> i don't believe i had any conversation with russian businessmen or russian people were at the convention. it's conceivable that -- >> sir, i have just a few -- >> lequalify. etif m i don't qualify you'll ae me of lying. i need to be correct as best i can. >> i do want youo t notbe a bl
this fast. it makes me nervous. >> are you aware of any communications wit oicndh associates that they had with russian officials or any russian >> i don't recall that. >> and are you aware -- >> ytht ais aware of any communications with any trump ions wcoit or did you have any atmmicun any officials about russia or russian interests in the united states before januaryth? >> no. i may have had some conversation did with the general strategic concept of the possibility of whether or not russia and the united states could get on a more harmoniousnd move off the hostility. the soviet union d,diic strateg event that we're not able to get
along -- >> before being sworn in ds a y typically communicate with then candidate or president-elect trump? >> wldou th yat. >> before you were sworn in as attorney general, how did you typically communicate with then candidate or protect trump? >> i did not submit i did not make formal presentations -- >> did you ever communicate with him in writing? >>ve so. >> and you referred to a oung-standing d.o.j. policy. u yon ullte >> well, i think most cabinet people, as the witnesses you had refo earlier, those individuals declined to comment e causeit t whe e arpresident -- >> sir, i'm just asking you about the d.o.j. policy. >> a policy that goes beyond just the attorney general. >> is that policy in writing somewhere? >> i think so. > so did you not consult itefe
be this committee knowing we would ask you questions about that? >> we talked aboutased -- >> did you ask that it be shown to you? >> the policy is based on the principle thathesir, i'm not ase principle. i'm asking when you -- >> then i'm unable to answer the question. >> when you would rely on that policy, did you not ask your staff to show you that policouy refusing to answer the questions -- >> should be allowed to answer the estion t. he chair to control the hearing. senator harris, let him answer. >> please do, thank you. and we talked about the real principle that's at stake is one some appreciation for as having spent 15 years in the department of e,icst united states attorney. and that principle is that the constitution provides the head of the execuinve privileges and that members -- one of them is confidentiality
ofcommunications. and it is improper for agents of any in the executive branch to waive that privilege without a clear approval -- m>>r. president. that's the -- >> -- mr. sessions for a yes or no. >> the answer is, yes, i consulted. >> the senator's time has expired. >> apparently not. >> attorney general sessions, former dtoecirmecor hy fbi em was terminated started this way. heied that a president can fire an fbi director for any reason and i t good for hev wime're going to h new and excellent fbi director,
a person who is smart, disciplined, with integrity and proven in judgment. that would be goodor f bureau and i think that statement probably was a valuable thing for and d i appr that he did. >> just to reiterate the timeliyof oec rur rosenstein memo and your letter to the president r dommeecndtoi comey, you recused from the russia investigation on march 2nd, correct? >> the formal recusal took place st tt letter that you wrote ron einfo memo to the president as f director comey's termination was dated may 9th a couple months after you had recused from the russian investigation, correct? >> i believe that's isn't it t
russian investigation didoour r to fire director comey? >> that is correct. >> the the deputy attorney general, your letter to the president didn't mention russia at all. is that your recollection? >>ha tist correct. >> so let's review what the de general rosenstein's recommendation. he wrote in his memo on may 9th, he said director's handling of the conclusion of the investigation of secretary clinton's not unde refusal to accept the nearly universal judgment tha h mistaken. and of course he's talking about director comey. he went on to say, the director -- director comey at the time -- was wrong to usurp the attorney general's authority
uly2016. you'll recall that was the date of the press conference he held. he went onoay s fbi director is never empowered to supped fntaler prosecutors and assume command of the justice department. finally, he said compounding t another long-standing principle, but we do not hold press conferences to rutseel the subject of a declined criminal investigation. in fact, there is written policy from the department of justice, is there not, entitled "election year sensitivies." efau yoarmi justice department making announcements or taking otherntctfe a trensio election>>s? am generally famil
that, some of those were memoranda after my time in the department. there's always been rules about it though. >> let medea memo from the attorney general, march 9th, "election year sensitivities." law enforcement officers and prosecutors may never select the tipsngr criminal charges for the purpose of affecting any election or for the purpose of advantage or disadvantage to any candidate or political party. such a purpose is department's and with the principles of federal prosution. with that? >> essentially, yes. >> so what essential deputyhely t attorney general s that former directortmt of just directives when he held a press
conference on july the, 5 2016. he announced that secretary clinton was extremely careless classified e-mail and went on to release other derogatory informinn ioclinud but yet, went on to say that no reasonable prosecutor would prutecoshe er. not the role of director, is it? that is a job for the prosecutors at the deparenf ot justice. that's what was meant by deputy attorney general rosenstein when he said thatir d tousrurped the role of the department of justice prosecutors. is that right? >> that is correct and former attorney general bill barr wrote an op-ed recently in he said he had assumed that attorney general lynch had urged o. mecoy make this announcement so she wouldn't have to do it. but in fact, it appears hereid ,
and that is a prettynn s stunni violates fundamental powers. and enthnhe w reaffirmed the rightness he believed of his decision on may 3rd i think was, that was additional confirmation that director's thinking was not clear. >> reed. >> thank you very much, mr. chairman. first point, attorney and othe raised the issue of long-standing rules. if yhe p tro avirede them to th committee, please? >> i will. >> thank you very much. made th point that the whole substance of your recommendation to the president to comey was his unprofessional conduct with respect to the
clinton >> i supported everything that the deputy attorney general put in his as good and important to use in determining whether or not he had conducted himself in a way atth continuing in office. i think it pretty well speaks for itself, and i believe most . the discussion about his performance was a bipartisa th time. democrats were very unhappy about the he conducted himself, and in retrospect, in looking at it, i think it was more egregious than i may have even understood at the time. >> general -- >> with regard to -- >> general, if i wt to cut you >> okay, i'll let you go. i'm sorry. >> excuse me, sir. on july 7th when mr. ade
his first announcement about the case, you were on fox news and you said, first of all, director comey is a skilled former prosecutor, and then you concluded by saying essentially that it's not his problem, it's hillary clinton's problem.veer,, after mr. comey again made news inate october by re-opening if you will the investigation, you said again on fox news,ectoou ye right thing when he found new evidence. he had no choice but to report it tohe american congress where he had under oath testified. the investigation was over. he had t this investigation is ongoing now. i'm sure it's significant or else he wouldn't haveul and nov director comey was doing exactly craditicisom of him. you felt that, in fact, he was a
skilled professional prosecutor. you felt tt his last statement in october was fully justified. so how can you go from those statements to agreeing with mr. rosenstein and then asking the president or recommending that he be fired? >> i think in begin to look at clearly and talkbo a utpe irspectives of the departm a nd embroilede the direcr in a public discussion of this vestig wathiiochn would have been better never to have been discussed publicly and said he -- it then when he found new evidence that came upd to tell congress that it wasn't over, that new
developed. it probably would have been better and would have been consistent with the rules of the department ofdus jceti about th investigation to begin with. once you get down that road, that's the kind of t that you get intohi that went agains classical prosecuting policies th iatea when i was a united states attorney and assistant united states attorney. >> if i m another question, your w pcolehoendimir was the actions in october involving secretary of state c controversy. did you feel misled when the president announced that his di mr. comey was the russia investigation? >> i don't have -- i'm not to characterize that. i wouldn't try to comment on inkling that there was anything to do with
russia until the president of the united statescled not b onl the oval office to the russian foreignaying the pressure is off now, i got rid of that nutjob. well, all i can say, senator e > reed, that our recommendation was put inri weliengtive a it was correct, and i believe the president valued was his process. >> you had no inkling that he was consideringhe russia investigation? >> i'm not going to try to guess. >> that's there is a scenario in whichle clinton was a story basically, a cover story that the president tried to put out and that he quickly abandoned,nd a h
reason was the russia investigation, which if it had been the case i would expected from any involvement. thank you. >> thank you. >> senator mccain. >> over the last few ekwes, chad your previously undisclosed meetings with ranus kislyak as meetings took in your official capacity as a u.s. senator and a member of the senate armed services committee. as chairman of that committee, let me ask you a few questions at these meetings did you rais concerns about russian invasion of ukraine or annexation >> i ofdid, senator mccain, an would like to follow up a little habi i on --t. that's one of the issues that i recall explicitly. the day before my meetinge russ
met with the ukrainian ambassador and i heard his concerns about russia. raised those with mr. kislyak, and he gave, as you can imagine, not one everything they did -- the russians had done according to him was correct,nd a it i and i bit testy on that subject. >> knowing you on the committee, i can't imagine that. did you raise concerns about s bashar al assad and his campaign of indiscriminate violence against his own zetici ,ns chemical weapons? >> i don't recall whether that was discussed or not. >> did you raise concerns about interference in our electoral process or its interference in the electoral process of our allies? >> i don't recalltha t b discussed. >> at those meetings have you spoken with ambassador kislyak in your capacity as a member of s a you presumably talked with him about russia-related security
issues that you haves importantu as a member of the committee? >> did i discuss security being - particularly vocal on such issues. >> repeat th,at i'm sorry. >> the whole russia-related nsmodeed mtrember of the mmittee, did you raise those with him? >> you mean such issues as nuclear issues or -- >> in other words, russia-related security issues. in your capacity as the chairman of the strategic forces subcommittee, what russia-related security issues did you hold hearings on or otherwise demonstrate a keen >> we may have discussed that. i just don't have a real recall of the meeting. i was not making a report about it to anyone. i just was basically willing to
meet and see what he discussed. >> and his response was? >> i don't recall. the 2016 cam season, did you have any contacts with any representative, including any american lobbyist or agent y rsi usoutsanide your capacity as a member of congress or a member of the armed services committee? >> i don't believe so. >> politico recently reported that in the middle of the f bi russian diplomats whose travel to thet s supposed to track had gone missing. some turned up wandering around the desert, driving around kansas, reportedly intelligence sources concluded that about a year, these movements indicate, one, that moscow's ground game is stronger and moreui the krem been trying to map the united
his in telecommunication t development and how the justice department and other relevant u.s. government agencies are responding to it? >> we need to do more, senator mccain. i am worried about it. nationees with these kinds of technological skills like china that are penetrating our business interests, our national ri member of the armed services committee, i did suppor i think you supported legislation that would -- it's requires the defense department to identify weaknesses in our system and how we can fix them. senator mccain -- >> some of our stations may go to local news t eghriw no r out here. attorney general sessions. >> by
it's an important issue. you're correct. >> "the washington post" russi developed a cyberweapon that can teniup ueth d grids and infrastructure. it's similar to what russian allied hackersseto disrupt caraine's electrical grid hown serious that is? >> i don't believe i can discuss the technolalic issues just to say that it is very disturbing th the russians continue to push hostilections policy. and, um, it is a -- not good for the united states or the world or russia in my opinion. >> i believe we have a strategy in order to ever-increasing threats to our
national security and our way of life? >> not sufficient. we do not have a sufficient strategy dealing with technological and i.t. penetrations of our system. iru telly before. and i appreciate your concern and leadership on that issue. ,ct in fa going to have to do better. >> senator's time's expired. the chair would t vice chair. >> thank you, mr. chairman and mr. sessions. i thanprk ecyou.te your last co with senator mccain. abou the itse'sri wouhysn so many of committee were concerned about the whole question of russian intervention. the president continues to refer to it as a witch hunt and fake news. theresnoe dee s'tm recognition of the seriousness of this. i sar, as many do, the opiusonn.
not to favor one party or another but to favor their own interest. it's an enormous concern. we have to hear from the administration how they're going take that on. i believe comments have been made here about where we head in terms of some of the trump associates who may have hadh ru. we have not got on the all of that yet because of the unprecedente f director that was leading this very same russian investigation. supercededeom s o f activities. those members, i hope will equally pursue the very troubling amountf oke, a o least, that's out there between individuals that were affiliated with the trump mpcaie.s gnaiwit. i have not reached a conclusion. final comment,
point. but you have to -- a series of comments madey b week. i think members on this side of the aisle have ditedetandcain e classified setting. think we indicated, if there are long standing written proce asre hutboave som category to protect the conversations with the president, we would like to get we need to find out in light of some of the contradictions ben today and last week where this all heads. at the end of the day, this is not only about 2016. it's about finding out what happened, about some of the es.ous allegations and bupot lteiant on a going forward basi making sure that the russians who are not finished inmser t their activities, we know it is
ongoing. we have to be better prepared. thank you, mr. chairman. >> thank you, vicechairman. >> mr. chairman, one brief comment, if you don't mind. i want to say top of the fbi should have no impact whatsoever on the investigation.te h b rkosing.th they'll continue to work. they have not been altered in any way. >> the oeerf v aery strange comments trehat mr. com testified last week that you could have, i believe, shed light on. we'll continue. thank you, sir. >> general sessions, thank you here. for your willing nsz to now sure that you knew it, your replacement sat through mo of m istharhe regreint that we don't have an intramural basketball team. >> big luther is a good round ball player. tulane. >> you have beensk we
range of questions. i think you have answered things related to claims about the meetingt amayflower. you have answered questions that surround the reasons of your th had never been briefed since day one oninvestigation. that you made clear that you can't think of any other conversationths atou russian of. you have covered in detail the conversation tthouhagh brief, with director comey, that he referenced to after his private meeting with just to name a few things i think you have helped us clear up. ertheer w that, you chose not to answer. because of confidentiality with ot.yiesid ask you now to go back and work with the white ny of questions that they a
feel comfortable with you answering. and if they do, thatou p idevir committee. i would also be remiss if i didn't rendmi documents that you can provide for the committee, they would be helpful to uurse fss of sorting timelines out. anything that substantiates your testimony today individuals who might have been at events that yllu,thfamiliar with, especia tos would be extremely helpful. more importantly, i want to thank you for your agrment to have a continuing dialogue with us as we might need to ask some additional 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 that has we have. you havetremendously. we're grateful to you and mary for the unbelievable sacrifice that you made in this
now in this administration. this hearing is now adjourned. >> chairman burr expressing gratitude. making it clear that this committee is not yet done with moe attorney general. ha trewon testimony. from jeff sessions today. on his most forceful ground when heenie a suggestion that as a member of the trump campaign last year, he had any russians russia. he called that an appalling and detestable lie. he also went on to talk about his recusal from the russia investigation as attorney general. he said, i did not receelys mde my honor against scurrilous and false allegations. putting up a number of denials during