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  1. #1
    Senior Member Judy's Avatar
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    Aug 2005

    5 things we learned at Jeff Sessions' hearing

    5 things we learned at Jeff Sessions' hearing

    By Tom LoBianco, CNN
    Updated 9:56 PM ET, Tue June 13, 2017

    Story highlights

    Attorney General Jeff Sessions gave several answers on his meetings with Russian officials
    Senators proved despite the end of Tuesday's hearing they're not quite done with Sessions

    Washington (CNN)Attorney General Jeff Sessions captivated Washington Tuesday, beating back rumors of a private meeting with Russia's ambassador to the US and mounting a defense for President Donald Trump, one week after former FBI Director James Comey artfully unloaded on both men.

    Sessions routinely said he would not answer questions regarding his conversations with Trump, but he delivered more than enough answers over two and a half hours of testimony Tuesday afternoon.

    Here are the top five things we learned.

    1. Sessions shut the door on Kislyak, then he re-opened it

    Sessions had one major goal -- to protect himself after Comey thrust him into the center of the Russia maelstrom. And he appeared to do that effectively in a strong opening statement, where he slammed the door shut on even the possibility that he had a third meeting with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak.

    "I did not have any private meetings, nor do I recall any conversations with any Russian officials at the Mayflower Hotel. I did not attend any meetings at that event separate," Sessions said.

    But in the rat-a-tat-tat of follow-up questions, Sessions slowly pried that door open again, by increasingly hedging his answers.

    Shortly after his opening, Sessions said that if he had talked with Kislyak, "It would've been certainly, I can assure you, nothing improper, if I'd had a conversation with him. And it's conceivable that that occurred. I just don't remember it."

    Later, under an intense grilling from Sen. Kamala Harris -- which earned a rebuke from Sen. John McCain -- Sessions explained his hedging.

    "Will you let me qualify it? If I don't qualify it you'll accuse me of lying. So, I need to be correct as best I can," Sessions said. "And I'm not able to be rushed this fast, it makes me nervous."

    2. Sessions' recusal started almost immediately, and left him blind on Russia's hacking

    The chief law enforcement officer of the United States was never briefed on Russia's hacking of one of its major political parties, or any other efforts by Russia to mess with the elections -- past and future.

    Why? Because he personally recused himself from all things related to the Trump campaign's ties to Russia the day after he was sworn into office. What Sessions didn't explain is why he waited a month to tell the public -- and his own associates -- that he had stepped aside from the probe.

    Comey testified last week that as of February 14, he still believed Sessions had not recused himself -- but that he almost certainly would. In fact, according to Sessions, he had recused himself two weeks earlier.

    Also, he's not 100% sure that Russia messed with the election, because he's only read news reports about it.

    3. Sessions did a strong job protecting Trump, and himself

    It's not clear if Sessions intended to pay penance to Trump after their relationship strained over the President's concerns that Sessions burned him by stepping aside from the Russia probe -- but he did a good job defending the White House anyway.

    Sessions is now the only Trump official on the record, under oath, countering Comey's testimony last week under oath.
    In particular, Sessions tamped down Comey's recounting of the February 14 meeting Comey had with Trump -- where Trump reportedly asked him stop investigating former national security adviser Michael Flynn.

    READ: James Comey's prepared testimony

    First, Sessions discounted Comey's report that Sessions didn't want to leave the room because he felt like something might be amiss.

    "I left. It didn't seem to me to be a major problem. I knew that Director Comey, long-time experienced in the Department of Justice, could handle himself well," Sessions told Sen. Marco Rubio.

    Then Sessions downplayed Comey's request that he never be left in the room alone with Trump again, saying, "he gave me no detail about what it was that he was concerned about."

    Later, Sessions directly blasted Comey for his testimony in private last week, "This is a secret innuendo out there being leaked about me -- and I don't appreciate it."

    The White House said Trump thinks Sessions "did a very good job" in his testimony.

    In the gaggle on Air Force One on Tuesday, White House deputy press secretary Sarah Sanders said the President wasn't able to watch "much of it," but from "what he did see and what he heard, he thought that attorney general Sessions did a very good job and in particular was very strong on the point that there was no collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign."

    Sanders confirmed that the President did interview Robert Mueller as a candidate for FBI director the day before he was named special counsel of the federal investigation into the Trump campaign and Russia ties.

    Sanders would not, however, say whether the President has confidence in Mueller in that role.

    "Beyond that, what I said earlier, I don't have anything more to add," Sanders said, when a reporter asked if Trump has confidence in Mueller.

    4. Senate Republicans lined up more with Trump for this hearing

    When Comey testified, there was nobody carrying water for the White House on the Senate Russia probe -- even though half of the panel is comprised of Senate Republicans. But that changed Tuesday, with a variety of Republicans coming to Sessions' (and the White House's) aide.

    It could be because they didn't like seeing one of their former colleagues -- Sessions was in the Senate 20 years -- under the hot glare of the national spotlight.

    Sen. Tom Cotton, an Arkansas Republican who has frequently supported Trump and worked with Sessions when he was in the Senate, offered him a hand, painting a comical portrait of an alleged spy scheme.

    "Have you ever, ever in any of these fantastical situations heard of a plot line so ridiculous that a sitting United States senator and an ambassador of a foreign government colluded at an open setting with hundreds of other people to pull off the greatest caper in the history of espionage?"

    An apparent fracture on the committee even emerged when, after Chairman Richard Burr said they were intensely focused on Russian interference in the election, Sen. Jim Risch muttered, "doesn't seem like it."

    5. Senate investigators aren't done with Sessions yet

    Warner made clear in his opening remarks they were already planning to bring Sessions in for questioning later this year, well before Sessions offered to appear before them. And lawmakers throughout the hearing pressed Sessions on providing emails and other documents to them.

    What's not clear is if Trump will be forced to invoke executive privilege to stop Sessions from testifying again, or from handing over the documents senators requested Tuesday. Sessions cited a Justice Department policy which blocks officials from testifying about private discussions with the President.

    (Sen. James Lankford, an Oklahoma Republican, later noted that former Attorney General Eric Holder used that policy to stall Congress' investigations of the Obama White House.)

    Burr made it clear Tuesday that National Security Agency Director Mike Rogers followed through on his promise to the Senate intelligence committee and returned to answer questions in private that he said he could not answer.
    Sessions would not make that promise Tuesday. But lawmakers aren't done with him yet.

    CNN's Liz Landers contributed to this report.
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  2. #2
    Senior Member Judy's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    I thought Sessions did a great job today. I also thought Rob Rosenstein did a good job too with his comments during his filll-in for Sessions at the Appropriations Committee Hearing.

    I thought the Senate Committee overall did a terrible job, I thought Tom Cotton did a good job with his questions, he was the most refreshing questioner of all and Roy Blount did a good job clarifying a testimony for Sessions about the use of the word "meeting" versus a possible encounter at the Mayflower.

    I think the best action right now is to use public opinion to end what is now clearly a farce with the appointment of a Special Counsel. It's time now for the Republicans, Independents and Democrats out there in our country who want our President to fix our country to demand an end to the Special Counsel based on cost, distraction, conflicts of interest, "cloud", political Witch Hunt, its creation through the manipulation of the DOJ by James Comey and his phony "leak" about MEMOS that are yet to even be produced, its impact on national security and foreign policy, its impact on the civil rights protections of US citizens, the Constitutional Authority of the Executive Branch, and the fact that there is no evidence of any collusion by the Trump Campaign with the Russians and so far no evidence that we've seen that the Russians even tried to interfere with the 2016 Election to begin with and thus nothing to investigate in the second place.

    Russia didn't interfere with our Democracy, they didn't even try to interfere with our Democracy. Did some hackers our "INTEL" community thinks might be of Russian descent try to steal personal information by hacking into state election databases? Possibly. But if you're paying attention to the drips of the leaks, you'll find that the FBI can use a Russian footprint to do the same thing to frame the Russians and make it look like someone from Russia somewhere with "close ties to the Kremlin" did it. Hackers of all types from all over the world are trying to find vulnerable databases to hack into in order to steal personal information so they can steal money. They weren't successful, so what is the connection of that to our "Democracy"?

    This whole thing is a political Witch Hunt to bring Trump down, not with crimes, not with evidence, but with "clouds" and "innuendo". This is not only a planned continuation of the interference in our Democracy by James Comey, it's an attempt at a Coup by DemoQuacks and NeverTrumpers.

    I'm full to the gills listening to these hypocrites whine about the "rule of law". If any of them were abiding the "rule of law", there would be no investigation at all. In our country, you are protected against investigations by the government under any "office" funded by US taxpayers unless and until there is a habeas corpus crime to investigate to begin with and probable cause for warrants and subpoenas to investigate individuals and their private lives, conversations and personal and business records.

    Comey has already committed perjury under oath in two Congressional Hearings that we know of, both during the "Eegads" Grassley Senate Judiciary Committee Hearing on that famous Wednesday when it became clear as a bell to any observer that Comey ain't right and during his Burr Senate Intelligence Committee hearing last week.

    I believe Comey is the "INTEL" leaker. And when all those articles and leaks are fully investigated, you will find that he has violated other laws pertaining to his role as Director of the FBI.

    I also believe Comey ordered and used FBI money to pay for the Dubious Dossier on Trump. And after Comey hand carries it to New York to discuss it in private with the President-elect and got a response he wasn't expecting, (Trump wasn't phased, Trump was unabashed, Trump wasn't scared, he wasn't worried, he waved it off as fake news and totally false), Comey walks out thinking "oh shit, this isn't working out the way I hoped it would"), and Comey moves to Plan B and LEAKS IT.
    A Nation Without Borders Is Not A Nation - Ronald Reagan
    Save America, Deport Congress! - Judy

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