Deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington on Tuesday before a Senate Appropriations subcommittee hearing on the Justice Department's fiscal 2018 budget.
In a heated testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee investigating Russian meddling in the election, Sessions, who was an adviser to President Donald Trump's 2016 president campaign, said he met twice with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak past year, but he denied reports that he had a third undisclosed meeting with Kislyak at a Washington hotel last April.
Despite voters in the Politico poll indicating by a two-to-one margin that Comey's statements have hurt the president, Trump has maintained that he feels vindicated by the former Federal Bureau of Investigation director's testimony.
She said Mr Trump was not able to watch much of Mr Sessions' testimony, but he thought Mr Sessions "did a very good job" and was especially "strong" on denying any collusion between Mr Trump's campaign and Russian Federation. Trump abruptly fired Comey, ousting the nation's top law enforcement official in the midst of an investigation into whether Trump's campaign had ties to Russia's election meddling.
"You and I agree that the American people deserve a full accounting of attempts to meddle in both our democratic processes and the impartial administration of justice".
Sessions shot back: "I am not stonewalling". Sessions called the conversations "confidential" but stopped short of invoking executive privilege, saying the privilege could only be invoked by the president.
A majority of Democrats, 58 percent, says the testimony hurt Trump more, compared to just 16 percent of Democrats who say it helped the president. "I did not attend any meetings at that event separate", Sessions said. Comey - a man whom, it was revealed Tuesday, Sessions wanted gone before Day 1 - intimated in testimony last week that Sessions' potential conflicts went deeper than were originally known. Collins gave him the opportunity to declare, "Comey's firing had nothing to do with the Russian Federation investigation".
Sessions hedged nearly all of his answers about whether/when he met with Russians, or why he was involved in firing Comey, or how he feels about the president's decisions, with: "I don't recall" or "I believe so" or "maybe".
The former Republican U.S. senator, an early supporter of Trump's presidential campaign, will likely have to explain why he told lawmakers in January that he had no dealings with Russian officials past year.
Yet, the beauty of a public hearing is that sometimes specific answers appear without the asking of specific questions. He said Trump fired him because of the FBI's investigation into alleged Russian collusion with his election campaign, and also accused the president of directing him to drop an investigation of former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, who was subsequently fired, as well. "I knew that Director Comey, long-time experienced in the Department of Justice, could handle himself well", Sessions told Sen. Ron Wyden, D-OR, asked why Comey and his aides decided not to discuss the "president's actions" on the Russian Federation investigation with Sessions.
He also declared it a "detestable and appalling lie" to suggest he was aware of or took part in any collusion between Russian Federation and the election campaign that sent Mr Trump to the White House.
Sessions came under fire earlier this year after he denied meeting with Russian officials during his January confirmation hearing, but later told reporters that he had met with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak twice. "I was sacked, in some way, to change - or the endeavor was to change the way the Russian Federation investigation was being conducted".
Did he tell the president he was on legally problematic ground here, and did the president nevertheless persist?
Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., compared Sessions' situation to science fiction, beginning his line of questioning by asking the attorney general if he liked spy movies. Comey's testimony, much to leftist dismay, did not provide a smoking gun or a gotcha moment to nail Trump. The attorney general generally rebuffed questions about his dealings with Trump, but there were no questions about whether Sessions relayed Comey's concerns to anyone, such as other Justice Department officials or the White House counsel. The attorney general might have punted, but his reaction might have betrayed the answer.