U.S. attorney general angers Democrats with refusal to testify on Trump conversations

US President Donald Trump delivers a statement in the Diplomatic Room at the White House in Washington DC

US President Donald Trump delivers a statement in the Diplomatic Room at the White House in Washington DC

Attorney General Jeff Sessions, center, testifies as he is photographed on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, June 13, 2017, before the Senate Intelligence Committee hearing about his role in the firing of James Comey, his Russian contacts during the campaign and his decision to recuse from an investigation into possible ties between Moscow and associates of President Donald Trump.

The special counsel appointed to investigate Russian influence in the 2016 presidential campaign has met with a Senate committee probing the same matter.

Addressing allegations that he had unreported meetings with Russian officials while he advised the Trump campaign, Sessions said he had already acknowledged two meetings a year ago with Ambassador Sergey Kislyak.

Mr Sessions sought to pre-empt questions from the panel about conversations with President Donald Trump regarding the Russian Federation investigation and the May 9 firing of Mr Comey, saying he "cannot and will not violate my duty to protect the confidential communications I had with the president".

Gunman dead after wounding top Republican
Capitol Police Officer Crystal Griner, right, walks behind House Majority Whip Steve Scalise , middle, on November 15, 2016. The annual Congressional baseball game will go on as planned Thursday night at Nationals Park in the United States capital.

But Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who appointed Mueller last month, testified Tuesday he has seen no evidence of good cause to fire Mueller. Kamala Harris dismissed Sessions' reasoning, appearing to dispute the existence of his claimed "historic policies". But Sessions said he had no recollection of that.

Why? Because he personally recused himself from all things related to the Trump campaign's ties to Russian Federation the day after he was sworn into office. "Americans don't want to hear that answers to relevant questions are privileged or off limits".

He added: "Sen. Franken asked me a rambling question, after some six hours of testimony, that included dramatic, new allegations that the United States intelligence community has advised President-elect (Donald) Trump that there was continuing exchange of information during the campaign between Trump's surrogates and intermediaries for the Russian government".

"He didn't recall this, but I responded to his comment by agreeing that the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Department of Justice needed to be careful to follow department policy regarding appropriate contacts with the White House", Sessions told the panel.

Congressman Steve Scalise One Of 4 Shot in Alexandria, VA
The annual Congressional baseball game will go on as planned Thursday night at Nationals Park in the United States capital. The team was taking batting practice when a gunshot rang out and chaos erupted, lawmakers on the scene said.

Then Sessions downplayed Comey's request that he never be left in the room alone with Trump again, saying, "he gave me no detail about what it was that he was concerned about".

The committee's Republican chairman, Richard Burr, asked Sessions to ask the White House if there were areas officials there would be comfortable with him answering and provide written answers if so. "I knew that Director Comey, long-time experienced in the Department of Justice, could handle himself well", Sessions told Sen.

Sessions told the senators he has confidence in Mueller but said he had "no idea" if Trump did because he had not spoken to the president about the matter. He did allow for the possibility the men could have had a brief interaction "in passing" at a well-attended reception at the Mayflower Hotel before an April 2016 foreign policy speech by then-candidate Trump.

He's been hounded by speculation over the possibility of a third meeting, with Democratic senators calling for an investigation. Sessions said he "racked my brain" and had no meeting with any Russian in his capacity as a Trump campaign adviser. Sessions had written a letter to Trump recommending Comey's firing.

Britain can still remain in EU: French President Macron to May
Brexit talks remain on course to start next week, Theresa May has said following talks with French President Emmanuel Macron . Talk quickly turned to the controversy over May's attempted deals with the Democratic Unionist Party of Ulster.

Sessions was sworn in February 9 but did not actually step away from the investigation until March 2, the day after The Washington Post reported on his two previously undisclosed Kislyak meetings. "It would be premature to me to deny the president a full and intelligent choice on executive privilege", Mr Sessions said. The FBI is part of the Justice Department that Sessions heads.

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