LIVE STREAM: AG Jeff Sessions testifies before Senate Judiciary Committee (10/18/17)
Watch Attorney General Jeff Sessions live testimony before Senate
WASHINGTON – U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions will testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday morning. Watch the hearing live here.
The hearing started at 10:00 a.m., EST, from Washington D.C. - Watch it LIVE above. (Hearing is on lunch until 1:25 p.m.)
Attorney General Jeff Sessions says he has not been questioned by special counsel Robert Mueller's team of investigators.
Mueller has been investigating potential coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia to influence the outcome of the 2016 presidential election.
Sessions recused himself from the investigation in March, before Mueller was appointed, but he is seen as a possible witness because of his involvement in the May firing of FBI Director James Comey.
Sen. Patrick Leahy, a Vermont Democrat, asked Sessions if he had been interviewed. Sessions at first told Leahy that he would have to ask Mueller that question, but then later answered the question by saying no.
The Associated Press and other news organizations have reported that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein has spoken to Mueller's team.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions says he urged the firing of former FBI Director James Comey because of Comey's handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation.
Sessions says he gave President Donald Trump his opinion on Comey at Trump's request. But, under questioning by Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein, Sessions refused to say whether he also discussed with Trump Comey's involvement in the Russia investigation.
Sessions, speaking Wednesday before the Senate Judiciary Committee, said he won't disclose his private conversations with Trump, citing longstanding Justice Department policy against the practice.
Sessions wouldn't say when he first discussed Comey's conduct with Trump. But Sessions said the errors of Comey's handling of the Clinton email case can't be overstated. He said Comey usurped prosecutors when he announced Clinton would not face criminal charges.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions told senators he won't discuss "confidential" conversations he had with President Donald Trump.
Sessions told members of the Senate Judiciary Committee during an opening statement of his oversight hearing Wednesday that the president is entitled to have private conversations with Cabinet secretaries.
Members of the committee have told Sessions that they intend to press him on his conversations with Trump, particularly about the firing in May of FBI Director James Comey.
At a separate hearing in June, Sessions told the Senate Intelligence Committee that he would not disclose his communications with Trump.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions is defending the Trump administration's travel ban as an important tool in fighting terrorism.
Speaking Wednesday before the Senate Judiciary Committee, he defended the legality of an executive order that seeks to block the travel to the U.S. of citizens of Chad, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Syria and Yemen, as well as some Venezuelan government officials and their families.
In his opening statement, Sessions says "the order is lawful, necessary, and we are proud to defend it."
He says he is confident that the Justice Department will prevail in its effort to defend and enforce the ban.
Sessions set for Senate grilling
Attorney General Jeff Sessions will once again be in the hot seat in front of his former colleagues Wednesday, when he testifies before the Senate judiciary committee.
The oversight hearing comes after a tumultuous summer for Sessions, during which he was publicly derided by the President over his recusal from the Russian meddling investigation, served as the face of the administration's decision to rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program and as his department suffered setbacks in the courts in trying to implement key pieces of the President's agenda, a fresh one coming Tuesday when a federal court blocked the third travel ban from going into effect.
Democratic senators to press Sessions on talks with Trump
Democratic senators plan to press Attorney General Jeff Sessions about his private communications with the president when he appears to answer questions before a Senate committee.
Sessions will testify to the Judiciary Committee Wednesday for the first time since his January confirmation. He'll face questions about his swift reversals of Obama-era protections for transgender people and criminal justice policies. But lawmakers are also expected to ask about the investigation into Trump campaign connections to Russia. Sessions recused himself from that probe, a decision that still frustrates President Donald Trump.
It is standard operating policy for attorneys general to appear each year before the Justice Department's congressional overseers on the House and Senate judiciary committees. Yet, in a reflection of the extent to which the Russia investigation and his own role as a campaign ally have dominated public attention, Sessions made his first appearance on Capitol Hill as attorney general before the Senate Intelligence Committee. There, he faced hours of questioning about his contacts with the Russian ambassador to the United States and his decision to recuse himself from the Russia investigation.
That hearing was scheduled for the day as a separate hearing on the Justice Department's budget, which Sessions was absent for. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein attended in his place to lay out the department's budget priorities, a task ordinarily fulfilled by the country's chief law enforcement officer.
Democratic senators have already made clear they want Sessions to detail his private conversations with Trump, particularly in the run-up to the May firing of FBI Director James Comey, or announce that Trump is invoking executive privilege to protect those communications. Sessions repeatedly refused to discuss his talks with Trump during his three-hour appearance before the Senate intelligence panel.
He did not say he was using executive privilege, but rather adhering to longstanding tradition of Justice Department leaders to refrain from revealing the contents of private conversations with the president. That explanation left many Democrats unsatisfied and is unlikely to put to an end demands for detailed accounts of those conversations.
As congressional investigations wear on, some eye a finish
As congressional investigations into Russian interference in the 2016 elections wear on in the Capitol, some lawmakers are starting to wonder when -- and how -- the probes will end.
After months of clandestine interviews and a few public, partisan committee clashes, some Republicans on the House intelligence panel have been pushing for their probe to wrap up by the end of the year. And Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr is signaling he wants his investigation to finish before the 2018 election campaigns get into full swing and the Russians have a chance to again interfere.
It's still unclear whether the congressional committees looking into the interference will come to firm conclusions about whether President Donald Trump's campaign was involved, or if they've found any evidence of such collaboration.
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