Multiple Democratic senators pressed Sessions on his efforts to seemingly invoke a new version of executive privilege, a protection that shields some executive-branch communications from Congress and the judiciary. He repeatedly suggested he needed to acquire permission from President Trump before replying to some of their queries.
…Sessions played a central role in Comey’s dismissal, including writing Trump a letter formally recommending his removal. Some Democratic lawmakers have claimed that Sessions’s involvement could be seen as a violation of his pledge to recuse himself from matters involving the Russia probe, given that Comey was overseeing it at the time. Sessions, however, asserted the firing fell outside that pledge, despite Trump’s subsequent statement connecting Comey’s ouster directly to the investigation.
“The scope of my recusal, however, does not and cannot interfere with my ability to oversee the Department of Justice, including the FBI.”
…Sessions’s abstention came one day after The Washington Post reported Sessions had failed to disclose two meetings during the presidential campaign with Sergey Kislyak, the Russian ambassador to the United States, during his Senate confirmation process. In an exchange with Minnesota Democrat Al Franken at his confirmation hearing in January, he’d said he “did not have communications with the Russians.”
…Another eyebrow-raising moment at Comey’s hearing last week was when he discussed Session’s recusal—the part Wyden focused his questioning on Tuesday—and how he didn’t tell Sessions what Trump requested about Flynn. “Our judgment, as I recall, is that he was very close to and inevitably going to recuse himself for a variety of reasons,” Comey told senators, referring to his leadership team at the FBI. “We also were aware of facts that I can’t discuss in an opening setting that would make his continued engagement in a Russia-related investigation problematic.”
Comey’s statement implied that there are reasons for Sessions’s recusal that might not be publicly known, but the attorney general forcefully rebuffed suggestion there’s anything to know. In doing so—just as in his refusals to answer questions—Sessions only seemed to prolong the game of he said-he said that’s characterized the national drama over Russia and the Trump campaign.