Sessions Denies Russia Collusion, Calls Allegation ‘Detestable’

The attorney general shed light on why he recused himself from the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions . — REUTERS
Jun 13, 2017 at 4:08 PM ET

Attorney General Jeff Sessions testified on Tuesday that he did not collude with Russia at any point during the 2016 election and that his recusal from the investigation had to do with Justice Department regulations rather than personal matters.

“The suggestion that I participated in collusion [with Russia]…is an appalling and detestable lie,” Sessions said in front of the Senate Intelligence Committee.

Less than a week after former FBI Director James Comey’s testimony on his interactions with President Donald Trump, Sessions told the Senate Intelligence Committee that he encouraged the investigation into possible Russian collusion, but categorically denied that he had any inappropriate meetings with Russian officials.

“I did not have any private meetings, nor do I recall any conversations with any Russian officials at the Mayflower Hotel,” Sessions said of a supposed meeting he had in April 2016.

The attorney general added that whether he attended a reception where Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak was present “was beside the point” of the Russia probe. He later said he did not remember having a conversation or meeting with Kislyak.

Sessions also explained that he recused himself from the Russia probe not over any wrongdoing, but because of a Justice Department regulation.

“I recused myself not because of any asserted wrongdoing on my part during the campaign, but because a Department of Justice regulation…required it,” said Sessions, who described how Justice Department employees should not participate in investigations of a campaign if they had served as part of that same organization.

Even with his recusal from the investigation, Sessions made it clear he was going to defend himself against the allegations.

“I did not recuse myself from defending my honor against scurrilous and false allegations,” he told the committee.