The Most Damning Parts of Jeff Sessions’ Very Bad Day

”The American people have had it with stonewalling.”

Senators on Tuesday grilled Attorney General Jeff Sessions during a Senate intel committee hearing for refusing to discuss his conversations with President Donald Trump. 

“The American people have had it with stonewalling,” Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) said. “Americans don’t want to hear that the answers to relevant questions are privileged and off limits or that they can’t be provided in public, or that it would be ‘inappropriate’ for witnesses to tell us what they know.”

“General Sessions has acknowledged that there is no legal basis for this stonewalling,” the senator added.

“Sen. Wyden, I am not stonewalling,” Sessions pushed back. “I am following the historic policies of the Department of Justice.”

Sessions grew visibly angry when the Oregon senator then suggested there may be troublesome factors behind his recusal from the Russian interference investigation.

“Why don’t you tell me?” Sessions said, raising his voice. “There are none Sen. Wyden. There are none. I can tell you that for absolute certainty. This is a secret innuendo being leaked out there about me and I don’t appreciate it.”

The testy exchange was quickly followed by intense lines of questioning from Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) and Sen. Angus King (I-Me.), both of whom described Sessions’ appearance as an attempt to avoid providing substantive answers to the ongoing probe. The senators specifically portrayed Sessions’ continued justification for his silence—executive privilege—as problematic. 

“You are obstructing that congressional investigation by not answering these questions,” Henrich said, telling Sessions his silence on the issue “speaks volumes.”

“You can’t have it both ways,” King said, as Sessions struggled to explain how he can invoke executive privilege, even though Trump has yet to assert it. 

When Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) asked if there was any written policy to support his continued refusal to answer questions about his private conversations between him and the president, Sessions again appeared to stumble. 

“I’m not able to be rushed this fast,” he said. “It makes me nervous.”

Throughout the hearing Tuesday, Sessions repeatedly defended his silence as a part of the Justice Department’s “longstanding policy” to decline commenting on private conversations between him and the president. Sessions started the hearing by defiantly denying any “collusion” between him and Russian officials.

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IT'S NOT THAT WE'RE SCREWED WITHOUT TRUMP:

"It's that we're screwed with or without him if we can't show the public that what we do matters for the long term," writes Mother Jones CEO Monika Bauerlein as she kicks off our drive to raise $350,000 in donations from readers by July 17.

This is a big one for us. So, as we ask you to consider supporting our team's journalism, we thought we'd slow down and check in about where Mother Jones is and where we're going after the chaotic last several years. This comparatively slow moment is also an urgent one for Mother Jones: You can read more in "Slow News Is Good News," and if you're able to, please support our team's hard-hitting journalism and help us reach our big $350,000 goal with a donation today.

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