Jeff Sessions shifts ground on Russian Federation contacts under Senate questioning

Attorney General Jeff Sessions speaks about immigration in Falls Church Va. last week

MoreCloseclosemoreAttorney General Jeff Sessions speaks about immigration in Falls Church Va. last week

SESSIONS: I do not confirm or deny the existence of any communication between the president that I consider to be confidential.

Sessions said he had not been interviewed by Mueller but he was tentative and hesitant in his answers on his contacts with Mueller's team, leaving open the possibility that he had been asked for an interview. Patrick Leahy of Vermont during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Wednesday after Leahy asked whether Sessions had been interviewed by Robert Mueller, the special counsel leading the FBI's investigation into Russia's interference in the 2016 u.s. presidential election.

"I felt the answer was 'no, '" Sessions said.

Earlier in his testimony, Session deflected questions about the circumstances that led to Comey's firing in May.

Former Attorney General Eric Holder, whose tenure was embroiled in controversy, had some strong words this week for the Trump administration's position on key issues involving the criminal justice system.

SESSIONS: It is - it's a matter that I can share some information about, because the president, I'm sorry, has talked about it and revealed or - that letter.

The routine oversight hearing, which lasted about five hours, took place as Mr Sessions works to reshape the Justice Department with a sharp focus on immigration, drugs, gangs and violent crime. Leahy said, referring to James Comey, the Federal Bureau of Investigation director whom President Donald Trump fired in May.

Lawmakers grew frustrated with Sessions on Tuesday, particularly Sen.

Pushed to elaborate on the provisions of the directive, Sessions said: "I would say that wherever possible, a person should be allowed to freely exercise their religion and not to carry out activities that further something they think is contrary to their faith".

"He did ask for our written opinion and we submitted that to him", Mr Sessions said under questioning from Senator Dianne Feinstein, the committee's top Democrat.

"Under the guidance you released to all executive departments on religious liberty, let me ask you this question: Could a Social Security Administration employee refuse to accept or process spousal or survivor benefits paperwork for a surviving same-sex spouse?" In the background, special counsel Robert Mueller - appointed by Mr Rosenstein - is conducting a probe into alleged ties between Russian Federation and the Trump campaign.

Sessions says he needs to protect a tradition of confidential conversations between the president and aides.

At a separate hearing in June, Sessions told the Senate Intelligence Committee that he would not disclose his communications with Trump.

While Sessions has called for local law enforcement to kill their "sanctuary city" policies or risk losing federal funds, Durbin argued that these threats from the administration are only hurting Chicago - a city already suffering from a tremendous amount of gun violence.

Photo Demonstrators in NY last month protesting the Trump administration's decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. "It is a lawful necessary order that we are proud to defend".

Sessions denied having any communications with Russians whatsoever during his confirmation hearing in January. Sessions recused himself from that probe, a decision that still frustrates President Donald Trump.

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