Attorney General Jeff Sessions vehemently defended himself against accusations that he lied to Congress about his contacts with a Russian ambassador, as well as his awareness of other contacts between the Trump campaign and Russian officials.
Sessions, during a House Judiciary Committee hearing Tuesday, said he never made false statements to Congress.
"My answers have not changed," he said. "I have always told the truth, and I have answered every question as I understood them and to the best of my recollection, as I will continue to do today."
"I will not accept and reject accusations that I ever lied under oath—that is a lie," he said.
Sessions said he will continue to lead the Justice Department in a fair and impartial way and rejected arguments that President Donald Trump's public comments disparaging the Justice Department have not influenced any decisions regarding ongoing investigations.
Late Monday, news broke that the Justice Department is looking into accusations regarding Hillary Clinton's involvement in approving the sale of a large swath of U.S. uranium-mining capacity to Russia and Russian donations to the Clinton Foundation.
Sessions on Tuesday would not say whether he would recuse himself from decisions related to those potential probes, saying he had consulted Justice Department ethics officials who have advised him not to say one way or the other.
"I cannot answer that yes or no," he said. "Under the [department's] policies, to announce a recusal would reveal the existence of that investigation and the top ethics officials have advised me that I should not do so."
The Washington Free Beacon, citing Justice Department sources, previously reported that Sessions has not recused himself from the uranium deal, known as Uranium One, or any other issues involving Hillary Clinton while she was secretary of State.
At several points during the committee hearing, Sessions said his recollection was not clear about events that took place during the Trump campaign, which he called "brilliant" but also "chaotic" with a frenetic schedule that often left him sleep deprived when combined with his ongoing Senate duties.
Sessions served as a security adviser to Trump and a campaign surrogate.
He testified that he now recalls that he was there for a meeting with Trump campaign aide George Papadopoulos. Papadopoulos in October pleaded guilty to making false statements to the FBI about his communications with people with close ties to the Russian government.
Sessions said Tuesday he now recalls telling Papadopoulos in a meeting he chaired during the campaign that his idea about arranging a meeting between then-candidate Trump and Russian officials "may have been improper."
"I pushed back against his suggestion [for a meeting] that I thought may have been improper," Sessions said.
He said he did not recall a meeting with another Trump campaign associate Carter Page and Page's planned trip to Moscow.
The House Intelligence Committee last week released a transcript of an interview it held with Page. During that interrogation, Carter said he told Sessions that he was traveling to Russia to deliver a speech.
"I mentioned it briefly to Sen. Sessions as I was walking out the door," Carter told the House Intelligence Committee, according to the transcript. "I forget the exact date, but it was the Thursday night before I flew to Moscow to give my speech. So I mentioned it to him in passing, as we were walking out the door."
Published under: Jeff Sessions