Atty Gen. Sessions testifies before Senate

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Latest on Attorney General Jeff Sessions' appearance before the Senate Judiciary Committee (all times local):

11:40 a.m.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions says he has not been questioned by special counsel Robert Mueller's team of investigators.

Mueller has been investigating potential coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia to influence the outcome of the 2016 presidential election.

Sessions recused himself from the investigation in March, before Mueller was appointed, but he is seen as a possible witness because of his involvement in the May firing of FBI Director James Comey.

Sen. Patrick Leahy, a Vermont Democrat, asked Sessions if he had been interviewed. Sessions at first told Leahy that he would have to ask Mueller that question, but then later answered the question by saying no.

The Associated Press and other news organizations have reported that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein has spoken to Mueller's team.

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11:10 a.m.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions says he urged the firing of former FBI Director James Comey because of Comey's handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation.

Sessions says he gave President Donald Trump his opinion on Comey at Trump's request. But, under questioning by Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein, Sessions refused to say whether he also discussed with Trump Comey's involvement in the Russia investigation.

Sessions, speaking Wednesday before the Senate Judiciary Committee, said he won't disclose his private conversations with Trump, citing longstanding Justice Department policy against the practice.

Sessions wouldn't say when he first discussed Comey's conduct with Trump. But Sessions said the errors of Comey's handling of the Clinton email case can't be overstated. He said Comey usurped prosecutors when he announced Clinton would not face criminal charges.

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10:50 a.m.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions told senators he won't discuss "confidential" conversations he had with President Donald Trump.

Sessions told members of the Senate Judiciary Committee during an opening statement of his oversight hearing Wednesday that the president is entitled to have private conversations with Cabinet secretaries.

Members of the committee have told Sessions that they intend to press him on his conversations with Trump, particularly about the firing in May of FBI Director James Comey.

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

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10:25 a.m.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions is defending the Trump administration's travel ban as an important tool in fighting terrorism.

Speaking Wednesday before the Senate Judiciary Committee, he defended the legality of an executive order that seeks to block the travel to the U.S. of citizens of Chad, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Syria and Yemen, as well as some Venezuelan government officials and their families.

In his opening statement, Sessions says "the order is lawful, necessary, and we are proud to defend it."

He says he is confident that the Justice Department will prevail in its effort to defend and enforce the ban.

© 2017 KING-TV


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