U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, appearing at a high-stakes Senate hearing, on Tuesday denounced as “an appalling and detestable lie” the idea that he colluded with Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential campaign.
Sessions, a senior member of Republican President Donald Trump’s Cabinet and an adviser to his presidential campaign last year, testified about his conversations with Russian officials and whether he intentionally misled Congress, as the Senate Intelligence Committee probes the Russia matter.
“I have never met with or had any conversation with any Russians or any foreign officials concerning any type of interference with any campaign or election in the United States. Further, I have no knowledge of any such conversations by anyone connected with the Trump campaign,” Sessions said.
“The suggestion that I participated in any collusion or that I was aware of any collusion with the Russian government to hurt this country, which I have served with honor for over 35 years, or to undermine the integrity of our democratic process, is an appalling and detestable lie,” he said.
Sessions is the most senior member of Trump’s administration caught up in the controversy over whether associates of the president colluded with Russia to help Trump win the election.
The committee’s chairman, Republican Richard Burr, told Sessions the hearing was “your opportunity to separate fact from fiction” and “set the record straight on a number of allegations reported in the press.”
Sessions appeared before the Senate Intelligence Committee just five days after James Comey, whom Trump fired as FBI director on May 9, told the panel Trump ousted him to undermine the agency’s investigation of the Russia matter. Sessions had written a letter to Trump recommending Comey’s firing.
Burr said he wanted to know from Sessions what meetings he had with Russian officials or their proxies on behalf of the Trump campaign, why he recused himself from the Russia investigation and what role, if any, he played in the firing of Comey.