Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Sen. Ron Wyden engaged in a heated exchange during Sessions’ Tuesday hearing before the Senate Intelligence Committee after the Oregon Democrat said Sessions was “stonewalling” in his answers.
The exchange centered on fired FBI Director James Comey’s testimony last week that there was a previously un-disclosed issue related to Sessions that would have made his recusal from investigations concerning President Donald Trump’s campaign necessary.
Sessions recused himself on March 2 after reports emerged that he had twice met with the Russian ambassador to the US, Sergey Kislyak, during the course of the election, contradicting statements he made during his Senate confirmation hearing, in which he said under oath that he did not have contacts with Russians during the campaign.
It was later reported that Comey said in a closed hearing before the Senate Intelligence Committee that the un-disclosed issue related to Sessions was a third, previously unreported meeting with Kislyak.
Earlier in the hearing, Sessions denied that assertion, saying that he did not recall meeting with Kislyak at a foreign policy speech given by Trump last year at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, DC.
“Mr. Comey, perhaps he didn’t know, but I basically recused myself the first day I got into the office, because I never accessed files, I never learned the names of investigators. I never met with them, I never asked for the documentation,” Sessions said. “The documentation, what little I received, was mostly already in the media and was presented by the senior ethics public responsibility attorney in the department.”
“I made an honest and proper decision to recuse myself,” he later added.
Wyden cut in, saying “respectfully” that Sessions was “not answering the question.”
“Well what is the question?” Sessions said.
“The question is, Mr. Comey said that there were matters with respect to the recusal that were problematic, and he couldn’t talk about them,” Wyden said. “What are they?”
“Why don’t you tell me?” Sessions fired back. “There are none, Sen. Wyden. There are none. I can tell you that with absolute certainty.”
“This is a secret innuendo being leaked out there about me, and I don’t appreciate it,” he said, later criticising the leak from the Senate Intelligence Committee’s closed sessions with Comey last week.
Watch the exchange:
Eliza Relman contributed to this report.
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