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15 November 2017, 12:53 | Simon Arnold
Justice Department Confirms Prosecutors Are "Evaluating" Claims Raised Against Hillary Clinton
In the midst of an intense House Judiciary Committee grilling of Attorney General Jeff Sessions over his contacts with Russians, Rep. Steve Cohen derailed the interrogation to ask about drugs.
Sessions' relationship with the president has been significantly strained since he recused himself from the investigation into possible coordination between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin to influence the 2016 election.
"I do now recall the March 2016 meeting at Trump Hotel that Mr. Papadopoulos attended, but I have no clear recollection of the details of what he said at that meeting", Sessions explained.
"That's what it looks like", he added, prompting Sessions reply.
The appearance before the House Judiciary Committee follows a guilty plea from one Trump campaign aide who served on a foreign policy council that Sessions chaired, as well as statements from another adviser who said he'd advised the then-GOP Alabama senator about an upcoming trip to Russian Federation.
Accusations of collusion with Russian Federation during the election campaign have dogged Trump's first 10 months in office.
Numerous items Goodlatte wanted probed had always been conservative talking points, some having to do with matters many considered long resolved: various decisions made in the Clinton email case, the Uranium One purchase, the so-called "unmasking" of people by the intelligence committee, and allegations, which officials have said were untrue, by Trump that he was wiretapped by his predecessors. Sessions supervised the advisory group on which Papadopoulos sat and reportedly rejected his suggestion for Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin to meet. And none of you had a part in the Trump campaign.
Papadopoulos was arrested by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and pleaded guilty to lying to authorities about his own foreign contacts during the campaign.
US intelligence agencies have concluded that Moscow meddled in the 2016 election to help Republican Trump's campaign. Page has said that the interaction was brief and forgettable and that his trip was unconnected to his campaign work.
Sessions later said he recalled the meeting following news reports about it.
Representative Hakeem Jeffries accused Sessions of hypocrisy, saying Sessions, while he was a US attorney, had prosecuted a police officer for perjury after the officer corrected his testimony.
That prompted an angry backlash from Sessions.
Sessions responded, "I did not, and I'm not aware of anyone else that did, and I don't believe it happened".
"In all of my testimony, I can only do my best to answer all of your questions as I understand them and to the best of my memory".
"These senior prosecutors will report directly to the attorney general and the deputy attorney general, as appropriate, and will make recommendations as to whether any matters not now under investigation should be opened, whether any matters now under investigation require further resources, or whether any matters merit a special counsel", said the senior official, Stephen E. Boyd, an assistant attorney general.
Sessions said that was the version of events he recalled.
In his opening statement, U.S. Rep. John Conyers Jr., D-Mich., went through Sessions's public statements on Russia-related matters, highlighting instances in which what Sessions said did not comport with other evidence. At his confirmation hearing to be attorney general, Sessions claimed he "did not have communications with the Russians" during the campaign.
During an Oval Office meeting with the president on November 1, Pirro denounced Attorney General Jeff Sessions and his refusal to go after Clinton, who was Secretary of State when the deal was approved.
Mr Sessions said on Tuesday that he doesn't challenge Mr Page's recollection, but doesn't remember the conversation.
The hearing was starkly divided.
Republicans are pushing for further investigation into the Uranium One deal and allegations of corruption involving the Clinton Foundation.
Sessions was cautious on that score.
The hearing is the first time Sessions will testify before the House Judiciary Committee, and members are also likely to press the attorney general on all the ways he has reshaped the Justice Department in his nine months on the job. But in this case Franken asked a straightforward question and the response Sessions gave was misleading, Gershman said.
"You can't x-ray people's minds to see what they were thinking and what they knew, so perjury can be a hard crime to prove", said Bennett Gershman, a professor of criminal law at Pace Law School.
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