Franken, Sessions spar about Russia

22 October 2017, 12:37 | Isaac Mcdaniel

MoreCloseclosemoreAttorney General Jeff Sessions speaks about immigration in Falls Church Va. last week

Attorney General Jeff Sessions speaks about immigration in Falls Church Va. last week

Although Mr Sessions again refused to discuss his private conversations with Mr Trump, drawing criticism from Democrats, Mr Sessions said the President had asked him and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein for their recommendations about what to do with Mr Comey. Sessions' lawyers argued in an amicus brief the baker has a First Amendment right to do so - despite a state law banning LGBT discrimination in places of public accommodation.

Sessions denied having any communications with Russians whatsoever during his confirmation hearing in January.

The time Franken cut off Sessions to the time he finished answering the question, in full, was about four minutes.

The atmosphere in the room became tense at several points during the hearing, particularly when Democratic Senator Al Franken suggested that Mr Sessions had changed his narrative as information about his meetings with Mr Kislyak emerged.

Sessions recused himself from the investigation in March, before Mueller was appointed, but he is seen as a possible witness because of his involvement in the May firing of FBI Director James Comey. But as the Wall Street Journal reported, one of Sessions' meetings with Kislyak happened at the 2016 Republican National Convention - an event Sessions traveled to and from using campaign funds.

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Sessions paused, then haltingly replied: "That's something I have never thought would arise, but I would have to give you a written answer to that, if you don't mind".

Yet when asked during a Senate hearing on Wednesday about hypothetical scenarios in which the directive could be used to discriminate against LGBTQ Americans, Sessions spoke like a man just learning about prejudice for the first time. "That's why I want our officers focused on community policing and not trying to be immigration police", he continued. "Now it's, 'I did not discuss interference in the campaign, ' which further narrows your initial blanket denial about meetings with the Russians".

"Did the president ever mention to you his concern about lifting the cloud on the Russian Federation investigation?" asked Sen. "This is a challenging issue, when you have said, and I believe you, that you do not want to discriminate". "The ambassador of Russia is a Russian". Pressed by Feinstein about whether that meant Trump did say something about Russia, Sessions said he "cannot confirm or deny the existence of any communication with the president that I consider confidential".

"It didn't say some of [them] - it said his surrogates", Sessions insisted, before complaining that he was exhausted when he denied communicating with Russian officials during his confirmation hearing.

"How your responses morphed from "I did not have any communications with the Russians" to "I did not discuss the political campaign" and then finally going to "I did not discuss interference in the election"-that to me is moving the goal post every time", Franken said". Dick Durbin of IL brought up Sessions' Oct. 6 guidance memo, saying, "Under the guidance you released to all executive departments on religious liberty, let me ask you this question: Could a Social Security Administration employee refuse to accept or process spousal or survivor benefits paperwork for a surviving same-sex spouse?"

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