NORC poll: Most in US think Trump meddled in Russia probe

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In his hearing on Tuesday, Sessions denied having violated the recusal, but repeatedly declined to answer questions about his conversations with Trump, particularly regarding Comey's handling of the Russian Federation investigation.

Testifying publicly before the Senate Intelligence Committee, Sessions confirmed that Comey expressed to him "concern about proper communications protocol with the White House and with the President".

The obstruction of justice investigation into Trump began days after Comey was sacked on May 9, the Post said.

As attorney general, he also wrote a letter recommending that Trump fire former FBI Director James Comey, who Trump later admitted to firing, in part, because Comey was digging into "the Russian Federation thing".

"But even after recusing himself, Sessions recommended that the President fire FBI Director Comey - who was leading the Russian Federation investigation", she continued in a series of tweets.

"He didn't recall this, but I responded to his comment by agreeing that the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Department of Justice needed to be careful to follow department policy" regarding contacts with the White House, Sessions said. Sessions told the committee he is protecting Trump's right to later on assert executive privilege "if he chooses".

US intelligence agencies concluded in a report released in January that Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an effort to interfere in the election to help Trump in part by hacking and releasing damaging emails about Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton. Comey told Congress last week that he believed he was sacked "because of the Russian Federation investigation". "I can tell you that for absolute certainty".

Sessions' testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee, scheduled to start at 2:30 p.m. ET, keeps the political spotlight on the Russian Federation issue, sidelining President Donald Trump's domestic agenda.

The strangest disconnect of the day was among Republicans and Democrats on the intelligence committee who agree that the Russians dangerously interfered with the 2016 election and will do so in future ones, and a White House that has a freaky lack of interest in what happened. "Cotton", he said. "It's just like 'Through the Looking Glass.' I mean, what is this?"

Sessions made it clear in his testimony that he appeared before his former colleagues for only one reason - to defend and clear his name in the face of unfounded, mean-spirited accusations.

Sessions also defended his decision to participate in the firing of Comey.

But the nation's top law enforcement official - who recommended Mr Comey's dismissal last month - has himself become a focal point in the crisis roiling the White House.

Comey testified that he didn't mention details to Sessions because he expected the attorney general would soon recuse himself from the investigation that includes a probe of Flynn. Mueller's office has now taken up that work, and the preliminary interviews scheduled with intelligence officials indicate his team is actively pursuing potential witnesses inside and outside the government.

"As did the senior intelligence officials who testified last week, Sessions wants to have it both ways", Ned Price, former senior director at the National Security Council under Barack Obama, said in an email.

Sessions said that he was not sure what was "explicitly" in Trump's mind. Sens. Al Franken of Minnesota and Patrick Leahy of Vermont have sought an FBI investigation.

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