Sessions resists GOP pressure on Clinton probe – BY KATIE BO WILLIAMS – 11/14/17 05:31 PM EST

Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Tuesday resisted calls from Republicans that he appoint a second special counsel to investigate a slate of conservative allegations related to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

In a marathon appearance before the House Judiciary Committee, the pressure the former Alabama senator faces from his own party and the White House was at the forefront even as he endured tough questions from Democrats.

The most memorable exchange of the day came when Sessions told a testy Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), a leading voice among House conservatives, that it would take “a factual basis that meets the standard of a special counsel” for the Justice Department to appoint a special prosecutor.

“We will use the proper standards and that’s the only thing I can tell you, Mr. Jordan,” Sessions said. “You can have your idea, but sometimes we have to study what the facts are and to evaluate whether it meets the standards it requires.”

Sessions on Tuesday did not entirely close the door to a probe and later clarified that he had made no “prejudgment” on the need for a new special counsel.

He testified that he has directed senior Justice Department prosecutors to “evaluate” the concerns raised by conservatives — including whether any merit the appointment of a special counsel.

But it was apparent throughout the five-and-a-half-hour hearing that his refusal so far to appoint a special prosecutor is frustrating Republicans.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) in his opening statement zeroed in on his own stymied demands for a special counsel — and Sessions’s decision to recuse himself from the Justice Department’s Russia probe, which has soured his relationship with President Trump.

“You have recused yourself from matters stemming from the 2016 election, but there are significant concerns that the partisanship of the FBI and the department has weakened the ability of each to act objectively,” Goodlatte said.

As special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election has escalated, Sessions has come under pressure from Trump himself to take action against Clinton, the 2016 Democratic presidential nominee.

On Nov. 3, shortly before leaving for a nearly two-week trip to Asia, Trump told reporters that the Justice Department should be “looking at” Clinton and the Democrats.

Asked if he would fire Sessions if the Justice Department didn’t have agents investigate the Democratic National Committee, Trump responded, “I don’t know.”

“A lot of people are disappointed in the Justice Department, including me,” he said.

Article continues:

POTUS attack puts Sessions in bind – BY REBECCA SAVRANSKY AND JORDAN FABIAN – 07/21/17 06:03 AM EDT`

© Getty Images

Attorney General Jeff Sessions is in a bind following public criticism from President Trump of his decision to recuse himself from the Russian investigation.

Trump’s scathing criticism in an interview with The New York Times immediately sparked new questions about whether the nation’s top cop, one of the president’s earliest supporters, enjoys his confidence and support.

Sessions on Thursday made it clear he has no plans to leave his post, and several Republican lawmakers rushed to his defense.

“I think Jeff Sessions has been and will continue to be an excellent attorney general,” said Rep. Chris Collins (R-N.Y.), an early Trump supporter who says he backed the decision by Sessions to recuse himself. “I don’t expect Jeff Sessions to resign, I would not want him to resign.”
Republicans on and off Capitol Hill marveled at the spectacle of Trump criticizing his own attorney general — and a politician seen as one of his closest allies.

“They need to put this behind them,” said GOP strategist Matt Mackowiak, who added that there is no benefit to Trump’s criticism of Sessions.

John Wood, a former U.S. attorney and chief of staff for the Department of Homeland Security in the Bush administration, said Sessions could continue to serve despite the criticism. But he said Trump’s comments likely hurt Sessions’ standing and could make it harder for him to lead the department.

“I don’t think it is to the point where Sessions has lost the ability to run the department,” he said.

Trump told The New York Times in a Wednesday interview that he would not have chosen Sessions to serve as attorney general had he known he would recuse himself.

“How do you take a job and then recuse yourself? If he would have recused himself before the job, I would have said, ‘Thanks, Jeff, but I’m not going to take you,'” Trump told The Times.

Article continues:

Lobbyist for Russian interests says he attended dinners hosted by Sessions – Stephanie Kirchgaessner Last modified on Thursday 15 June 2017 13.29 EDT

Richard Burt contradicts Jeff Sessions’ testimony that he didn’t believe he had contacts with lobbyists working for Russian interests during Trump’s campaign

Jeff Sessions is sworn in before testifying before the Senate in Washington DC Tuesday.
Jeff Sessions is sworn in before testifying before the Senate in Washington DC Tuesday. Photograph: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

An American lobbyist for Russian interests who helped craft an important foreign policy speech for Donald Trump has confirmed that he attended two dinners hosted by Jeff Sessions during the 2016 campaign, apparently contradicting the attorney general’s sworn testimony given this week.

Sessions testified under oath on Tuesday that he did not believe he had any contacts with lobbyists working for Russian interests over the course of Trump’s campaign. But Richard Burt, a former ambassador to Germany during the Reagan administration, who has represented Russian interests in Washington, told the Guardian that he could confirm previous media reports that stated he had contacts with Sessions at the time.

“I did attend two dinners with groups of former Republican foreign policy officials and Senator Sessions,” Burt said.

Asked whether Sessions was unfamiliar with Burt’s role as a lobbyist for Russian interests – a fact that is disclosed in public records – or had any reason to be confused about the issue, Burt told the Guardian that he did not know.

Several media reports published before Trump’s election in November noted that Burt advised then candidate Trump on his first major foreign policy speech, a role that brought him into contact with Sessions personally.

Burt, who previously served on the advisory board of Alfa Capital Partners, a private equity fund where Russia’s Alfa Bank was an investor and last year was lobbying on behalf of a pipeline company that is now controlled by Gazprom, Russia’s state-controlled energy conglomerate, first told Politico in October that he had been invited to two dinners that were hosted by Sessions last summer, at the height of the presidential campaign.

Sessions, a former senator for Alabama who was chairman of the Trump campaign’s national security committee, reportedly invited Burt so that he could discuss issues of national security and foreign policy.

When John McCain, the Republican senator from Arizona who is a frequent critic of Trump and Russian president Vladimir Putin, asked Sessions in a hearing this week before the Senate intelligence committee about whether the attorney general had ever had “any contacts with any representative, including any American lobbyist or agent of any Russian company” during the 2016 campaign, Sessions said he did not.

“I don’t believe so,” Sessions said.

Article continues:

Sessions’ loyalty to POTUS will be put to the test – Seung Min Kim 06/13/2017 05:08 AM EDT

Here are five things to watch as the attorney general heads before the Senate to face questions on the Russia controversy.

Jeff Sessions has been a staunch ally of Donald Trump as an early surrogate of the real estate mogul’s unconventional campaign and now as attorney general, carrying out the president’s unapologetically populist agenda.

That loyalty will be put to the test on Tuesday.

Sessions has so far avoided public testimony on his connections to the Russia probe engulfing the Trump administration — but his hastily arranged appearance before the Senate Intelligence Committee could finally unlock some answers to questions that have chased the attorney general for weeks.

Last week’s testimony from James Comey raised more questions about Sessions, especially when the fired FBI director hinted at — but declined to publicly share — information about the attorney general that Comey said would have made Sessions’ involvement in the Russia probe “problematic.”

It remains unclear exactly how much Sessions will divulge Tuesday, considering other DOJ officials — including Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein — cited special counsel Robert Mueller’s ongoing probe as they declined to respond to queries at a similar Intelligence hearing last week.

Still, Tuesday’s hearing is a chance for Sessions to personally push back on the record against reports of additional undisclosed meetings with the Russian ambassador that could add to the scandal that prompted his recusal from the probe in the first place.

Here are five things to watch as Sessions testifies on the evolving Russia controversy, which marks his first public appearance on Capitol Hill as attorney general:

Does Sessions assert executive privilege?

The attorney general may invoke executive privilege in response to questions about some of the most sensitive dealings with Trump, particularly his role in Comey’s firing that stunned Washington one month ago.

White House press secretary Sean Spicer declined to say whether Sessions would go that route, noting it would be “premature” to speculate how the attorney general may answer questions he may face.

Article continues:

Democrats Fight GOP’s Silencing of Warren in Debate Over Sessions – WSJ

screen-shot-2017-02-08-at-feb-8-2017-11-54A Senate fight over the confirmation of Sen. Jeff Sessions (R., Ala.) to be attorney general intensified Wednesday, as Democrats pushed back against a vote by Republicans on Tuesday night to silence Sen. Elizabeth Warren in the debate

Source: Democrats Fight GOP’s Silencing of Warren in Debate Over Sessions – WSJ