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Mueller meets with Senate Russia investigators

15 Juin 2017

President Donald Trump has yet to begin building his Mexico border wall, but U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions set about building a stone wall on Capitol Hill during his testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee. Back in January, Sessions told Senator Al Franken, quote, "I did not have communications with the Russians".

"Well, I guess I'm concerned about your recollection, really, because it's not that long ago", Sessions said.

Sessions did not invoke "executive privilege". "The Attorney General's testimony this afternoon was unsubstantial, unresponsive, and unacceptable". This is a novel interpretation of executive privilege. But time and again, Sessions returned to lines such as "I am not able to discuss with you or confirm or deny the nature of private conversations that I may have had with the president on this subject or others". Regarding such, the president is permitted by the U.S. Constitution for such communications to remain private.

Warner asked Sessions if he was evoking executive privilege.

Session goal, in testifying before the committee, was to strongly refute any suggestion he may have colluded with Russian Federation to interfere with the 2016 election.

"I believe the American people have had it with stonewalling", Wyden said.

Saikrishna Prakash, the James Monroe distinguished professor of law at the University of Virginia, said in an email that answers like the ones Sessions gave Tuesday could make it easier for him to make the argument that he did not "willfully" mislead questioners if any part of his testimony turns out to be not true. Sessions objected strongly, citing past protocol on this issue.

During his opening statement, Sessions addressed the committee's concerns about his contacts with Russian officials during his involvement in President Trump's campaign, as well as new reports of an alleged third, undisclosed meeting with a Russian diplomat.

Sessions originally said that he disaffiliated himself simply because he was an adviser to Trump during the campaign, but doubt was cast on that explanation when Comey testified last week and said he had thought Sessions would recuse himself earlier than he did for "problematic" reasons that needed to be discussed in a closed session.

An associated problem was not mentioned in this hearing.

Sessions said he had confidence in special counsel Robert Mueller, and said that his recusal from the Russian Federation probe would stop him taking part in any hypothetical effort to remove him. Sessions previously offered to resign because of tensions with Trump over his recusal decision. "I am following the historic practices of the department of justice". Asked whether he would ever take any action to remove Mueller, Sessions said, "I would not think that would be appropriate for me to do". However, a photo from a 2010 meeting with then-Russian President Dmitriy Medvedev showed Kislyak across the table from then-House Speaker Pelosi. Thus, Rosenstein had not recommended in his memo that the president fire Comey.

He called it absurd that his own recusal would bar him from making the recommendation that Mr. Comey be fired, noting recusal in the case should not preclude him from managing agencies that report to the Justice Department. It seems President Trump could live to regret this admission because that appears to be an obstruction of justice. As I have posted before, the USA president has the authority to fire the Federal Bureau of Investigation director, but not if the president obstructs justice in doing so.

And he's also not being really honest about what the question was that he was asked and that he just didn't answer the question I asked but rather chose to say that he hadn't met with Russians. Moreover, it flew in the face of the entire US intelligence community, which unanimously claimed the Russians had indeed compromised the presidential election a year ago.

In his testimony last week, Comey said he and Trump had a one-on-one meeting in the Oval Office on February 14 about the investigation into the former national security adviser, Michael Flynn. Rosenstein said he has seen no evidence of good cause to fire the special prosecutor overseeing the Russian Federation investigation.

Mueller also won votes of support Tuesday from the top two Republicans in Congress, House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, both of whom said they have confidence in him.

There should be more concentration on that serious threat, said Cotton, but he did not see that happening during the Senate Intelligence Committee's hearing with Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Tuesday.

Mueller meets with Senate Russia investigators