Attorney General Jeff Sessions vehemently denied any improper meetings or collusion with Russian officials in sworn testimony at a Senate hearing Tuesday, calling such charges a “detestable lie.”
“Let me state this clearly: I have never met with or had any conversations with any Russians or any foreign officials concerning any type of interference with any campaign or election,” Sessions said under oath before the Senate Intelligence Committee Tuesday afternoon. “Further, I have no knowledge of any such conversations by anyone connected to the Trump campaign. I was your colleague in this body for 20 years, and the suggestion that I participated in any collusion or that I was aware of any collusion with the Russian government to hurt this country, which I have served with honor for over 35 years, or to undermine the integrity of our democratic process, is an appalling and detestable lie.”
Speaking before the Senate intelligence committee, Sessions specifically said he did not have any private meetings or recall any private conversations with Russian officials at the Mayflower hotel, which investigators had reportedly been looking into.
Sessions also clarified his role in firing former FBI Director James Comey in light of his recusal from the Russia investigation, which President Trump has said was a factor in Comey’s ouster. Sessions said he has “no knowledge about this investigation beyond what has been publicly reported,” and that he recused himself not because of any “asserted wrongdoing” on his part, but because a Department of Justice regulation requires recusal into an investigation of a campaign if a DOJ employee served as an advisor on that campaign.
“The scope of my recusal, however, does not and cannot interfere with my ability to oversee the Department of Justice, including the FBI,” Sessions said. “It is absurd, frankly, to suggest that a recusal from a single specific investigation would render an Attorney General unable to manage the leadership of the various Department of Justice law enforcement components that conduct thousands of investigations.”
Sessions, who asked for Tuesday’s hearing to be public, appeared angry and adamant before the Intelligence Committee after weeks of speculation and news reports about his connection to Russia and role in the Trump Administration.
“I recused myself from any investigation into the campaigns for President,” he said, “but I did not recuse myself from defending my honor against scurrilous and false allegations.”