Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden Has Heated Exchange With US Attorney General
Oregon U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden accused Attorney General Jeff Sessions of stonewalling Tuesday during a hearing before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Capitol Hill.
“American’s don’t want to hear that answers to relevant questions are privileged and off-limits, or that they can’t be provided in public, or that it would be quote, 'inappropriate,' for witnesses to tell us what they know,” Wyden said in remarks before posing a series of questions to Sessions.
Sessions had agreed to testify before the committee regarding ongoing investigations into interference by the Russian government during the 2016 election.
The attorney general said there were some things he couldn’t talk about because of long standing policies about keeping communications with the president confidential.
“Sen. Wyden, I am not stonewall(ing),” Sessions said. “I am following the historic policies of the Department of Justice. You don’t walk into any hearing or any committee meeting and reveal confidential communications with the president of the United States.”
Sessions told Wyden he “basically recused” himself from the Russia investigation during his first day as attorney general because he “never accessed files, never learned the names of investigators, never met with them, never asked for any documentation.”
During an interview with NBC News, President Trump said he fired former FBI director James Comey because of his handling of the Russia investigation.
Wyden asked Sessions about his recusal from the investigation and his role in Comey's dismissal.
“Why did you sign the letter recommending the firing of Director Comey when it violated your recusal?” Wyden asked.
“It did not violate my recusal,” Sessions responded. “That would be my answer to that. And the letter I signed represented my views that formulated for some time.”
“Mr. Chairman,” Wyden responded. “If I can just finish. That answer in my view doesn’t pass the smell test.”
Following the heated exchange with Wyden, Sessions repeatedly said he was not aware of any undisclosed meetings between Trump campaign officials and the Russian government.
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