Watch Sessions' Post-testimony Coverage with CBN's Heather Sells and White House Correspondent Jennifer Wishon above
WASHINGTON -- Attorney General Jeff Sessions confidently and at times forcefully defends himself before the Senate Intelligence Committee Tuesday.
He came out swinging during his opening statement, saying that while he recused himself from any investigation into Russia's meddling in the presidential election, he did not recuse himself from defending his honor "against scurrilous and false allegations."
"The suggestion that I participated in any collusion that I was aware of any collusion with the Russian government to hurt this country that I have served with honor for 35 years or undermine the integrity of our democracy is an appalling and detestable lie," Sessions told the committee.
He testified that he recused himself from the Russia investigation only because of a Department of Justice regulation that required it because of his involvement in the Trump campaign.
He said he did not have a third meeting with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak at the Mayflower Hotel during the campaign as Democrats had speculated. He says he had no idea the ambassador was even there.
His highly anticipated testimony came less than a week after former FBI Director James Comey sat in the same hot seat. Many questions aimed at Sessions had to do with Comey's firing by President Donald Trump.
"Do you really believe this had to do with Director Comey's performance?" Democrat Sen. Dianne Feinstein asked Sessions.
"There was a clear view of my and of Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein as he set out at some length in his memorandum which I adopted and sent forward to the president that we had problems there... and it was my best judgment that a fresh start at the FBI was the appropriate thing to do and when asked I said that to the president. It is something that I adhere to," Sessions said.
"Deputy Rosenstein's letter dealt with a number of things," he continued, "When Mr. Comey declined the Clinton prosecution that was really a usurpation of the authority of the federal prosecutors in the Department of Justice. It was a stunning development. The FBI is the investigative team. They don't decide prosecution policies. So, that was a thunderous thing."
"He also commented at some length on the declination of the Clinton prosecution, which you shouldn't do. Policies have been historic if you decline, you decline. You don't talk about it. There are other things that had happened that to me indicated a lack of discipline," Sessions concluded.
Then in a heated exchange Democrat Sen. Ron Wyden asked Sessions about Comey's testimony regarding Sessions' recusal.
"Mr. Comey said that there were matters in respect of the recusal that were problematic and he couldn't talk about them. What are they?" Wyden asked.
"Why don't you tell me," Sessions fired back. "There are none Senator Wyden. There are none! I can tell you that for absolute certain.
This is a secret innuendo being leaked out there about me and I don't appreciate it. And, I've tried to give my best, truthful answer to any committee I've appeared before. And, it's really, uh, people suggesting through innuendo that I have been not honest about matters and I've tried to be honest."
Sessions also refused to recount his private conversations with the president. That led some Democrats to suggest he was trying to impede the investigation.