5 things we learned at Jeff Sessions' hearing

Legal experts said there was some merit to Sessions' argument.

"Why don't you tell me", what those accusations are, Sessions demanded of Wyden.

The second prong was to avoid saying anything about his dealings with President Trump.

"Let me state this clearly: 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", Sessions said.

Sessions testified that he bowed out of the Russia investigation, which includes possible ties between Russian operatives and the president's associates, because of the role he had played in Trump's campaign.

In response to reports of an undisclosed third meeting with a Russian official at an event at the Mayflower Hotel in April 2016, Sessions said he had "no recollection" of any meeting, passing or private interaction with any Russians.

Mr. Sessions said he had concluded long before Mr. Trump chose to fire Mr. Comey that new leadership was needed at the FBI for the reasons Mr. Rosenstein laid out in a memo - that he had made inappropriate public statements about the Hillary Clinton email investigation.

A Politico/Morning Consult poll found that 45 percent of voters said they trusted Comey more to tell the truth, while 32 percent said they trusted the president more.

Sessions largely validated a key portion of Comey's description of a February meeting at the White House, at which the attorney general and Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner left the Oval Office so the president and Comey could speak alone. By and large, Republicans across the board say firing Mueller would not be a good thing, including Chris Ruddy, who started the whole story going.

A former Republican senator, Sessions was an early supporter of Trump's presidential campaign, but sources say there has been tension between the two men in recent weeks because Trump was annoyed that Sessions recused himself from the Russian Federation probe.

Sessions is the most senior member of Trump's administration caught up in the Russian Federation controversy.

That recusal, Sessions said, had nothing to do with decisions about who should head the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

And when this contradiction was placed in front him at Tuesday's hearing, Sessions was unable to provide an answer. Comey said the president then leaned on him to halt the Michael Flynn investigation.

California Sen. Dianne Feinstein appeared puzzled by Sessions' reasoning for not providing more details around the abrupt firing of Comey, asking "How do you view that?"

SHAPIRO: I know you were not in the hearing room today. Warner cited reports that a friend of Trump's suggested that he was considering removing Mueller from the investigation. Fifty-four percent said it was "inappropriate" for Comey to hand off information to a Columbia University professor, who in turn sent it to The New York Times.

Democratic Senator Ron Wyden told Sessions: "I believe the American people have had it with stonewalling". Rosenstein said he has seen no evidence of good cause to fire the special prosecutor overseeing the Russian Federation investigation. As for the probe into the Trump campaign's supposed collusion with Russian Federation by special counsel Robert Mueller, Sessions's hands were predictably empty: as was mentioned earlier, he had recused himself months ago. These notes were turned over to the special prosecutor, one of whose tasks is to ascertain whether the president had committed an obstruction of justice, the same offense that was utilized as a ground for impeachment that led to the resignation of Richard Nixon.

Sessions said he trusted Comey to do his job well, and that's why he didn't get involved when Comey expressed concern about the president interfering in the FBI investigation. Yet there is no such law for the attorney general and the president.

He added that Comey, after being uncomfortable with the airplane meeting between former Attorney General Loretta Lynch and former President Bill Clinton, "stepped up and done what his duty is, I think".

But in the rat-a-tat-tat of follow-up questions, Sessions slowly pried that door open again, by increasingly hedging his answers.

(Copyright © 2015. All Rights Reserved.)

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