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5 key takeaways from Attorney General Jeff Sessions' testimony

Sessions, a senior member of the Republican Trump's Cabinet and an adviser to his presidential campaign, had a series of tense exchanges with Democrats on the Senate Intelligence Committee during about 2-1/2 hours of high-stakes testimony as they pressed him to recount conversations with the president.

Regarding Comey's closed-door testimony pertaining to Sessions, the attorney general acknowledged having two meetings with Kislyak after the Mayflower event - one in his Senate office and another at a speech at the Republican National Convention - but says he does not remember whether or not he spoke with him at the Mayflower speech.

What he and president Trump discussed concerning Comey's firing and the Russian investigation. He said under oath at his January confirmation hearing that he had not met with Russians during the campaign.

And in another made-for-TV declaration, Sessions said: "I did not recuse myself from defending my honor against scurrilous and false allegations".

Sessions told Dianne Feinstein that he wrote a letter to Trump supporting the firing of Comey because he was asked to do so. He insisted that he never knew anything about the Russian Federation probe or had any role in it. "I am following the historic policies of the Department of Justice" on private discussions with the White House.

Comey testified that he didn't mention details to Sessions because he expected the attorney general would soon recuse himself from the investigation that includes a probe of Flynn.

In his testimony on Tuesday, Sessions addressed media reports that he may have had a third previously undisclosed meeting with Kislyak at Washington's Mayflower Hotel past year. Days after that, Sessions also corrected his confirmation hearing testimony to inform the committee about his two meetings with Kislyak. During the public hearing, however, Sessions defended Comey's firing.

Sessions got angry again when Wyden pressed Sessions to explain what facts might be "problematic "about his involvement in the Russian Federation probe, as Comey suggested".

"You raised your right hand here today and said you would solemnly swear to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth", Sen.

Sessions bristled at Wyden, telling the OR senator that people are suggesting through innuendo that he has not been honest. But he angrily denounced such claims as "secret innuendo", a likely reference to media accounts of a closed-door briefing lawmakers had last week with Comey that suggested the Federal Bureau of Investigation had been looking into whether another meeting had taken place. He described Mueller as operating independently from the Justice Department in his investigation.

Rosenstein said that if the president ordered him to fire Mueller, he would comply only if the request was "lawful and appropriate".

The probe over the possible ties between Trump's campaign and Russian Federation is now in the hands of special counsel Bob Mueller following the Comey dismissal.

He said he would agree to dismiss Mueller only if there were a legitimate basis to do so, and an order from the president would not necessarily qualify.

When asked about the issue by the Senate Intelligence Committee, Sessions deferred to the President's account.

But his former Democratic colleagues pressed him repeatedly on his contacts with Russian Federation and his role in the dismissal of Comey - who led the FBI's probe on Russian Federation until he was ousted.

"I'm not sure what was in his mind specifically".

Sessions also refused to answer whether any Justice Department officials had discussed possible presidential pardons of individuals being looked at in the Russian investigations. Yet he says he does not have the power to invoke executive privilege, and the president has not asserted it. He refuted reports that he had met with a Russian official at the Mayflower Hotel a year ago.

Sessions was adamant he never had a third meeting with the Ambassador Sergey Kislyak.



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