Jeff Sessions Russia ties in spotlight at affirmation hearing for appointee pick The Guardian

“A confirmation hearing for Jeff Sessionsu2019 deputy attorney general flared into a renewed fight over whether the attorney general had lied to Congress about his u201ccommunications with the Russiansu201d during the 2016 election.
Senator Al Franken, a Democrat, demanded that Sessions return in person to explain his comment to the Senate judiciary committee that u201cI did not have communications with the Russiansu201d. News reports later revealed Sessions had met at least twice with the Russian ambassador during the time he served as a top surrogate for the Trump campaign.
u201cI have bent over backward not to say that he lied. He needs to come back,u201d Franken said. u201cHe should come back and explain himself, Mr Chairman. I think he owes that to us.u201d
Senators seek Rod Rosenstein pledge to name a special prosecutor on Russia ties Read more
The Republican senator Chuck Grassley, the chairman of the committee, praised Sessions for recusing himself from the investigation into Russiau2019s role in the 2016 election and accused Franken of surprising Sessions with an unfair question that he did not have enough information to answer. u201cIt was a gotcha question,u201d Grassley said.
u201cIt was not a gotcha question, sir,u201d Franken shot back.
Questions about the independence of any federal investigation into Russiau2019s interference in the election u2013 and any communications that Donald Trumpu2019s affiliates may have had with Russia about this interference u2013 turned what might have been a sleepy confirmation hearing for the justice departmentu2019s No 2 and No 3 spots into a political battleground.
Sessions recused himself from overseeing any election-related investigations last week, in the wake of bipartisan pressure over his failure to mention his meetings with the Russian ambassador, Sergey Kislyak, while testifying under oath. That recusal put the power to oversee any justice department investigation of Russiau2019s interference in the hands of the yet-to-be-confirmed deputy attorney general.
Under repeated questioning from Democrats, Rod Rosenstein, Trumpu2019s nominee for deputy attorney general, refused to promise that he would appoint an independent special prosecutor to investigate Russiau2019s interference in the 2016 election.”

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