Attorney General Jeff Sessions was interviewed last week by special counsel Robert Mueller’s office in connection with its investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, a Justice Department spokesman said Tuesday.
The New York Times reported Tuesday that Sessions was queried for several hours last Wednesday as part of Mueller’s probe into the Russian interference and whether President Donald Trump has obstructed justice since taking office last January.
Justice Department spokesman Ian Prior confirmed the report to VOA but declined to comment further.
Sessions’ attorney, Chuck Cooper, who reportedly accompanied the attorney general to the interview, said he had comment on the matter.
The special counsel’s office declined to comment.
Asked whether he was concerned about what Sessions told Mueller’s team, Trump told reporters in the Oval Office: “I’m not at all concerned.”
Sessions was the first member of Trump’s Cabinet known to have been questioned by Mueller’s office. The special counsel took over the Russia investigation last May, after Trump fired then-FBI Director James Comey.
The interview came as Mueller’s team has stepped up its interrogation of people linked to Trump’s presidential campaign as it looks into whether the campaign colluded with Russia in a bid to flip the election in Trump’s favor. Mueller’s office recently subpoenaed former Trump strategist Steve Bannon to testify before a federal grand jury.
Two indictments, two pleas
So far no evidence of collusion has come to light, but Mueller’s probe has led to indictments against former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and another aide, Rick Gates, and guilty pleas by national security adviser Michael Flynn and another former Trump adviser, George Papadopoulos. Flynn and Papadopoulos are cooperating with the special counsel’s office.
In addition to investigating possible collusion between Trump’s campaign and Moscow, Mueller’s office is widely believed to be examining whether Trump has obstructed justice during the course of the investigation.
Comey told a congressional panel last June that during a White House encounter, Trump expressed his hope that the bureau would end its investigation of Flynn’s contacts with Russian officials, raising questions as to whether Trump obstructed justice.
Trump has repeatedly denied making any demand, calling Comey’s account a “lie.”
Sessions recused himself from the Russia investigation last March after it was disclosed that he had failed to tell lawmakers during his confirmation hearing that he’d had two meetings with Russia’s former ambassador to Washington, Sergey Kislyak, during the campaign.
Session’s decision drew the ire of Trump, who said he’d never have picked Sessions as his attorney general had he known Sessions would recuse himself.
Democrats in Congress summoned Sessions to answer questions about his interactions with Russian officials, including allegations that he had discussed campaign-related matters with the Russian envoy.
Sessions has dismissed any suggestions of collusion with Russia, saying he stepped away from the investigation in order to avoid any conflicts of interest.
By: 4Masood Farivar
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