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Archive for June 13th, 2017

AG Sessions Dismisses Collusion Allegations with Russia as a ‘Detestable Lie’

Attorney General Jeff Sessions

Attorney General Jeff Sessions

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Attorney General Jeff Sessions dismissed allegations that he colluded with the Russian government as “an appalling and detestable lie” during testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee.

“These false attacks, the innuendo, and the leaks, you can be sure, will not intimidate me,” Sessions said in his opening remarks.

Sessions, however, had trouble recalling whether he had a third discussion with Russian ambassador Sergey I. Kislyak at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, saying it’s “possible, but I don’t recall it.”

“If any brief interaction occurred in passing with the Russian ambassador during that reception, I do not remember it,” Sessions said.

Sessions admitted he met twice with Kislyak twice after failing to disclose the conversations during his confirmation hearing.

While Sessions was quick to defend himself against allegations of collusion, he declined to answer numerous questions, including whether he knew of any discussions in the White House about future pardons in connection with the Russia investigation.

Sessions also said it was “inappropriate” to disclose whether President Trump expressed disapproval of Sessions recusing himself from the Russia investigation.

The failure to answer questions drew criticism from Democrats.

“You’re impeding this investigation by refusing to answer questions,” Sen. Martin Heinrich, D-New Mexico, said. “I think your silence speaks volumes.”

Sessions’ Troubled Relationship with Trump to Be Put to Test Today

Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Attorney General Jeff Sessions was one of Donald Trump’s earliest supporters, defending the president’s populist agenda.

But his loyalty to the president will be tested during today’s Senate Intelligence Committee in which Sessions will be grilled about the investigation into alleged collusion between Russia and Trump’s campaign.

Sessions, who recused himself from the investigation for failing to initially reveal contacts with a Russian ambassador, could provide critical information about the probe. Or he could invoke executive privilege and decline to answer the most sensitive questions.

During fired FBI Director James Comey’s testimony last week, he said it would be “problematic” to loop Sessions into details of Trump’s alleged request of Comey to drop the investigation of former national security adviser Michael Flynn.

Sessions also could come under fire for his involvement with Comey’s firing, especially since Trump later acknowledged the termination was the result of the federal investigation into Russia.

As it turns out, Sessions privately offered to resign after Trump criticized the attorney general for recusing himself from the Russia investigation.

At this point, it’s anyone’s guess how Sessions will address the tough questions he’ll be asked during the hearing.

Other Stories of Interest

Trump Allies Try to Discredit Special Counsel Mueller After Initial Praise

Former FBI Director Robert Mueller.

Former FBI Director Robert Mueller.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

And so begins the inevitable partisan attacks on Robert Mueller, the former FBI director who has earned near unanimous praise for his integrity and fairness as the bureau’s top boss.

As Mueller begins to build his team to investigate allegations of collusion between Russia and Donald Trump’s political team to undermine the 2016 election, the president’s conservative allies are digging in to discredit Mueller, who was appointed as special counsel by Trump’s own Justice Department.

And on Monday, a close friend of Trump’s said the president is considering firing Mueller, a move that echoes Richard Nixon ordering the termination of the special prosecutor during the Watergate scandal.

Rep. Adam Schiff, of California, the top Democrat on the Intelligence Committee, warned Trump that dismissing Mueller would ultimately be futile, saying “Don’t waste your time.

Trump, who has called the appointment of Mueller “a witch hunt,” has yet to publicly attack the credibility of the special counsel. But his allies have.

On Twitter, Newt Gingrich, an informal adviser to Trump, called the appointment of a special counsel “nonsense,” suggesting it’s “delusional” to believe Mueller would be fair, less than a month after praising the appointment as “a superb choice.”

Conservative commentator Ann Coulter said there’s no reason to keep Mueller because Comey confirmed that Trump wasn’t under investigation, while radio host Mark Levin wrote on Facebook that “Mueller must step aside.”

When Mueller was appointed special counsel last month, Democrats and Republicans praised the decision.

LA Times: Truth Or Consequence Time for AG Jeff Sessions

Attorney General Jeff Sessions during his confirmation hearing in January.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions during his confirmation hearing in January.

By Editorial Board
Los Angeles Times

On Tuesday, members of the Senate Intelligence Committee need to pin Atty. Gen. Jeff Sessions down about his role in the firing of FBI Director James B. Comey and other matters that remain murky.

On May 9, Sessions wrote a letter to President Trump urging Comey’s dismissal “based on my evaluation, and for the reasons expressed by the deputy attorney general in the attached memorandum.” The memo he referred to by Deputy Atty. Gen Rod Rosenstein faulted Comey for the way he handled the Hillary Clinton email investigation.

Yet Trump later said that “I was going to fire [Comey] regardless of [the Justice Department’s] recommendation” and that he had “this Russia thing” on his mind when he made the decision. Did Sessions, who has recused himself from any investigation connected to last year’s election campaigns, know this when he wrote his letter to Trump? Did he assign Rosenstein to write the memo used to justify Comey’s dismissal?

Secret Service Says No Recordings Exist of Trump Conversations with Comey

President Trump

President Trump

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Donald Trump’s suggestion that there were “tapes” of conversations between himself and then-FBI Director James Comey appears to be yet another fabrication of the beleaguered president.

The Secret Service, responding to a Freedom of Information request by the Wall Street Journal, said there are no recordings or transcripts of conversations between Trump and Comey. 

“In response to your request, the Secret Service has conducted a reasonable search for responsive records,” the agency wrote in a statement responding to the FOIA request. “It appears, from a review of Secret Service’s main indices, that there are no records pertaining to your request that are referenced in these indices.”

Shortly after firing Comey, Trump tweeted that Comey “better hope that there are no ‘tapes’ of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!”

During Comey’s testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee, the former FBI boss responded, “Lordy, I hope there are tapes.”

AG Sessions Wants to Prosecute Medical Marijuana Users, Providers

medical marijuanaBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Attorney General Jeff Sessions wants to prosecute people who sell medical marijuana in states that have approved the sales for qualifying patients.

In a letter to congressional leaders, Sessions urged lawmakers to undo federal marijuana medical protections instituted in 2014, the Washington Post reports.

Under President Obama, the Rohrabacher-Farr amendment bars the Justice Department from using federal funds to crack down on marijuana in states where medical use has been approved.

Sessions argues in the letter:

I believe it would be unwise for Congress to restrict the discretion of the Department to fund particular prosecutions, particularly in the midst of an historic drug epidemic and potentially long-term uptick in violent crime. The Department must be in a position to use all laws available to combat the transnational drug organizations and dangerous drug traffickers who threaten American lives.

Sessions’ claim that medical marijuana is part of a “historic drug epidemic” is at odds with researchers who say the real problem is opiate deaths and overdoses, which have declined in states that approved medical marijuana.

John Hudak of the Brookings Institution responded that the letter is a “scare tactic” that “could appeal to rank-and-file members or to committee chairs in Congress in ways that could threaten the future of this Amendment.”