Sessions Take Two: What We Learned From the AG's Senate Testimony

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Attorney General Jeff Sessions listens on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, June 13, 2017.
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The high stakes testimony into Russian interference in the U.S. election continued yesterday, with Attorney General Jeff Sessions stepping up to the plate to give his testimony and respond to questions from the Senate Intelligence Committee about fired FBI director Comey and his communications with Russian officials. Sessions was on the defensive, denying that he recused himself because of any wrongdoing.

“Many have suggested that my recusal was because I felt I was a subject of the investigation myself, that I may have done something wrong," Sessions stated in response to Republican Senator Richard Burr, chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee. "But this is the reason I recused myself: I felt I was required to under the rules of the Department of Justice, and as a leader of the DOJ I should comply with the rules."

For a good part of the more than two hour testimony, Sessions either couldn't recall or refused to answer questions, pointing to executive privilege. His evasive responses sparked some push back from Democratic Senator Martin Heinrich of New Mexico.

"You took an oath, your raised your right hand here today and said you would solemnly swear to tell the truth, the whole truth and noting but the truth, and now you are not answering questions; you are impeding the investigation," Sen. Heinrich said. 

What did we learn from the attorney general's testimony? For answers, we turn to Roy L. Austin, a partner at Harris, Wiltshire and Grannis and former deputy assistant attorney general in the civil rights division of the Department of Justice from 2010 to 2014.