Accusations of obstruction arose last month when Trump fired FBI Director James Comey. Comey said the president then leaned on him to halt the Flynn investigation.
"I had to push back against overreach in the Bush administration, in the Obama administration, and I think it would be fair to say I'm going to be no less busy during the Trump Administration", Sen.
Sessions cited executive privilege several times while testifying before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday, though he acknowledged that President Donald Trump has not in fact invoked it yet. "You raised your right hand here today, and you said that you would solemnly tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth".
Before he became attorney general, Sessions served two decades as a Republican senator from Alabama. The admission led to his recusal from the Department of Justice's investigation into any Russian collusion.
While the Justice Department has said Sessions recused himself in March because of his involvement in Trump's campaign, Comey testified that the Federal Bureau of Investigation knew of information that would have made it "problematic" for Sessions to be involved. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., asked Sessions whether Trump records his conversations in the White House.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein drew out this confession most clearly by asking Sessions "how exactly" he was "involved in the termination of" former FBI Director James Comey. "Mr. Comey well knew them, I thought, and assumed correctly that he complied with them". Senators Cornyn and Collins explicitly stated that Sessions had recused himself from "the Russian Federation investigation" rather than investigations into both presidential campaigns. He said he was untroubled by claims Trump tried to persuade Comey to back off the investigation, saying those revelations only emerged after Comey was sacked and wanted to defend himself.
Following Comey's blockbuster appearance before Congress, an Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll shows 68 percent of Americans are at least moderately concerned about the possibility that Trump or his campaign associates had inappropriate ties to Russian Federation. "Rubio, probably so", Sessions replied. The Justice Department has denied such a meeting occurred. "And that's troubling to me, I've got to tell you".
Sen. Franken was calling out the Attorney General.
Sessions said he learned from Comey that he felt concerned about being left alone with the president but that, since Comey did not relay details of the conversation, he had no way of knowing it was improper.
"The Attorney General's testimony this afternoon was unsubstantial, unresponsive, and unacceptable".
And he essentially warned Trump that if Mueller were to be fired, Rosenstein wouldn't be the one to do it, saying he saw no "good cause" to consider such a move. Any findings by the department's investigation would be referred to Congress, where lawmakers would determine whether to impeach the president. "I have confidence in Mr. Mueller", he said. Sessions also admitted that neither he nor Rosenstein, Comey's direct supervisor, ever talked to Comey about his job performance. The simplest explanation is that in the mad rush to come up with some pretense to fire Comey, Sessions himself forgot the breadth of his recusal. So he sort of says it but ultimately backs off and says, look; ultimately it is the special counsel Mueller's decision to make about whether any laws were broken in this. There was a clear partisan divide on the question, with 73 percent of Democrats backing Comey and 64 percent of GOP voters opting for Trump, but Comey was also favored to be honest by almost twice as many independents as Trump (43 percent vs. 22 percent).
And Trump allies have already been trying to insulate themselves and the president by attempting to delegitimize whatever Mueller comes up with.