Jeff Sessions Faces Congress Amid New Russia Probe Details

Nov 15, 2017, 00:53
Jeff Sessions Faces Congress Amid New Russia Probe Details

Atty. Gen. Jeff Sessions said Tuesday that he has not been improperly influenced by President Trump to investigate Trump's 2016 opponent, Hillary Clinton.

Sessions testified in Congress that, following a guilty plea by Trump campaign foreign policy advisor George Papadopoulos, he now remembers a March 2016 meeting at which Papadopoulos was present and suggested he could arrange a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Jim Jordan, a conservative Republican, had peppered Sessions with allegations that Clinton, then-FBI director James Comey and the Democratic party conspired to undermine Trump.

"These senior prosecutors will report directly to the attorney general and the deputy attorney general, as appropriate, and will make recommendations as to whether any matters not now under investigation should be opened, whether any matters now under investigation require further resources, or whether any matters merit a special counsel", Boyd wrote.

"I'm really not involved with the Justice Department", Mr. Trump told reporters.

"You can't x-ray people's minds to see what they were thinking and what they knew, so perjury can be a hard crime to prove", said Bennett Gershman, a professor of criminal law at Pace Law School.

"Hopefully they are doing something and at some point, maybe we are going to all have it out", Trump said.

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Sessions responded to these revelations by insisting that he'd met with Ambassador Sergey Kislyak in his capacity as US senator (not as a Trump surrogate), and that they did not discuss the 2016 election. The president has publicly lambasted his attorney general and noted, had he known in advance of Sessions's recusal, he would not have appointed him to the post.

Sessions answered by trying to give context: "When I became United States Attorney in 1981, and drugs were being used widely, over a period of years, it became unfashionable, unpopular, and... it was seen as such that good people didn't use marijuana".

Sessions has repeatedly come under fire for his statements regarding contact between the Trump campaign and Russian Federation. Since then former Trump campaign aides Paul J. Manafort Jr. and Richard W. Gates III have been indicted by Mueller's fishing expedition for wrongdoings like tax evasion that are unrelated to the campaign.

In asking for a second special counsel in July, Goodlatte wrote that he wanted to "request assistance in restoring public confidence in our nation's justice system and its investigators".

In recent weeks, unsealed court documents have called into question the attorney general's previous testimony about his interactions with Russians, and his knowledge of others' interactions, when he was an official with the Trump campaign. Sessions would not say whether the dossier was used by the FBI to obtain warrants to surveil Trump associates, nor would he comment on any hypothetical investigation into Justice Department leaks to the media about the dossier.

The letter from Assistant Attorney General Stephen Boyd did not confirm the existence of any investigation, and did not guarantee that the prosecutors' evaluation would lead to any investigations.

What are these pressing issues that demand investigation?

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