Attorney General Jeff Sessions told the Senate Judiciary Committee Wednesday that he has not be interviewed by Special Counsel Robert Mueller in relation to the ongoing investigation into Russian interference into last year's presidential election. "I'm not sure I should without clearing that with the special counsel". It later emerged that he had met Kislyak at a campaign event at a Washington hotel in April 2016, then at the Republican national convention in July and in his Senate office in September past year.
Sessions made it clear in his opening statement to the committee that he'd be less than forthcoming on questions like this: "Under these circumstances today, I will not be able to discuss the content of my conversations with the president". What's more, a person who was at the RNC told the Journal that Sessions and Kislyak discussed the Trump campaign.
"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.
But asked whether Trump had ever voiced concerns about a "cloud" over the Russian Federation investigation to Sessions - or what, in particular, Trump's concerns about Comey were - Sessions claimed the content of his conversations with the president was confidential.
SESSIONS: I do not confirm or deny the existence of any communication between the president that I consider to be confidential. He did ask for our written opinion, and we submitted that to him. "I met with 26 ambassadors in the past year and he was one of them". And so the balance needs to be properly struck - and I think we have. It could have been at that meeting in my office or at the convention that some comment was made about what Trump's positions were.
Senator Patrick Leahy subjected Jeff Sessions to pointed questioning about differences is his responses from previous statements.
Calling Russian President Vladimir Putin an "opportunist", Sasse asked Sessions whether the administration and Justice Department were doing enough to prepare for upcoming elections. Is there a difference between responding "no" and "I do not recall"?
"I would never accuse you of colluding with the Russians, but you concealed your own contacts with Russians when contacts were of great interested to the committee", Leahy said. "Is that legally significant?"
"The president's executive order is an important step to ensuring that we know who is coming into our country", Sessions said during his testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee Wednesday morning.
Franken said Sessions' explanations have "morphed" from "I did not have communications with the Russians" to "I did not discuss the political campaign" to "I did not discuss interference in the election".
Sessions agreed that community-based policing was necessary and attempted to defend his department's commitment to solving Chicago's gun violence crisis by noting that 12 additional Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives agents were assigned to prosecute gun crimes.