Saturday, November 25, 2017
Politics

Attorney General Jeff Sessions next up for Capitol Hill testimony

RECOMMENDED READING


WASHINGTON — Attorney General Jeff Sessions is in for sharp questioning by senators Tuesday on the extent of his contacts with Russian officials during the presidential campaign and of his involvement in the firing of FBI chief James Comey.

Whether that hearing will be public or closed is not known.

Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., said Sunday "there's a real question of the propriety" of Sessions' involvement in Comey's dismissal, because Sessions had stepped aside from the federal investigation into contacts between Russia and the Trump campaign. Comey was leading that probe.

Reed said he also wants to know if Sessions had more meetings with Russian officials as a Trump campaign adviser than have been disclosed.

Trump on Sunday accused Comey of "cowardly" leaks and predicted many more from him. "Totally illegal?" he asked in a tweet. "Very 'cowardly!'"

Several Republican lawmakers also criticized Comey for disclosing memos he had written in the aftermath of his private conversations with Trump, calling that action "inappropriate." But, added GOP Sen. James Lankford of Oklahoma, "releasing his memos is not damaging to national security." Lankford is on the intelligence committee, the forum for last week's riveting Comey testimony and Tuesday's hearing.

The New York City federal prosecutor who expected to remain on the job when Trump took office but ended up being fired said he was made uncomfortable by one-on-one interactions with the president — just like Comey was. Preet Bharara told ABC's "This Week" that Trump was trying to "cultivate some kind of relationship" with him when he called him twice before the inauguration to "shoot the breeze."

He said Trump reached out to him again after the inauguration but he refused to call back, shortly before he was fired.

On Comey's accusations that Trump pressed him to drop the FBI investigation of his former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, Bharara said "no one knows right now whether there is a provable case of obstruction" of justice. But: "I think there's absolutely evidence to begin a case."

Sessions stepped aside in March from the federal investigation into contacts between Russia and the campaign after acknowledging that had met twice last year with the Russian ambassador to the U.S. He had told lawmakers at his January confirmation hearing that he had not met with Russians during the campaign.

Sessions has been dogged by questions about possible additional encounters with the ambassador, Sergey Kislyak.

As for the timing of his recusal, Comey said the FBI expected the attorney general to take himself out of the matters under investigation weeks before he actually did. Comey declined to elaborate in an open setting.

In a letter Saturday to Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., Sessions said that he had been scheduled to discuss the Justice Department budget before House and Senate committees but it had become clear some members would focus their questions on the Russia investigation.

Sessions said his decision to accept the intelligence committee's invitation to appear was due in part to Comey's testimony. He wrote that "it is important that I have an opportunity to address these matters in the appropriate forum" and he would have his deputy deal with the budget hearings.

Briefing congressional appropriators on the Justice Department's budget is a critical part of the attorney general's job. The fact that Sessions would delegate that task showed the Russia investigation was distracting him from his core duties.

Lankford appeared on CBS' "Face the Nation." Reed was on "Fox News Sunday."

Comments
Hillsborough Democrats have everything going for them except history

Hillsborough Democrats have everything going for them except history

TAMPA — For 15 years, Republicans have held a majority of seats on the Hillsborough County Commission.It’s the longest stretch one party has controlled the board since a corruption scandal expanded the body to seven members in 1985.But all five Repub...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Flynn may be moving to cooperate with Mueller’s Russia probe

Flynn may be moving to cooperate with Mueller’s Russia probe

WASHINGTON — In a move that could signal cooperation with the government, lawyers for former national security adviser Michael Flynn have told President Donald Trump’s lawyers that they are no longer communicating with them about special counsel Robe...
Published: 11/24/17
Trump wants to end welfare as Bill Clinton knows it

Trump wants to end welfare as Bill Clinton knows it

WASHINGTON — Overhauling welfare was one of the defining goals of Bill Clinton’s presidency, starting with a campaign promise to "end welfare as we know it," continuing with a bitter policy fight and producing change that remains hotly debated 20 yea...
Published: 11/24/17
President Trump presents his report card, passes with flying colors

President Trump presents his report card, passes with flying colors

PALM BEACH — President Donald Trump has a Thanksgiving Day message for the nation: Look at all I’ve done. Trump is telling followers in an early-morning holiday tweet that, "your Country is starting to do really well." He says: Jobs are "coming back,...
Published: 11/23/17
As rules change, many Florida immigrants face a choice: Do they stay or go?

As rules change, many Florida immigrants face a choice: Do they stay or go?

Lys Isma was born in Haiti, but she’s used to driving in Miami with a license, going to college and living without fear of being deported.The Florida International University biology student has lived in Florida since she was 9 months old. Undocument...
Published: 11/22/17

Top Trump staffers failed to file financial reports on their way out the door

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump’s top aides — including chief of staff Reince Priebus and foreign policy adviser Sebastian Gorka — failed to file legally required financial reports after they were dismissed this summer, according to government re...
Published: 11/22/17
William March: Lee says lieutenant governor should work for a living and get a vote

William March: Lee says lieutenant governor should work for a living and get a vote

It’s an old joke that Florida’s lieutenant governor, with no duties specified in the state Constitution except to fill in if the governor is disabled or dies, has little to do except monitor the governor’s health. State Sen. Tom Lee, R-Thonotosassa, ...
Published: 11/22/17
Trump calls father of freed UCLA player an ‘ungrateful fool’

Trump calls father of freed UCLA player an ‘ungrateful fool’

Associated PressPALM BEACH — President Donald Trump started off his first day of Thanksgiving vacation by resuming his taunts of the father of a UCLA basketball player detained for shoplifting in China, saying Wednesday that he was an "ungrateful foo...
Published: 11/22/17
Trump speaks up for Moore, warns against his ‘liberal’ rival

Trump speaks up for Moore, warns against his ‘liberal’ rival

WASHINGTON — Silent for more than a week, President Donald Trump all but endorsed embattled Alabama Republican Senate nominee Roy Moore, discounting the sexual assault allegations against him and insisting repeatedly that voters must not support Moor...
Published: 11/22/17
Trump offers support for Moore in Alabama Senate race despite misconduct allegations

Trump offers support for Moore in Alabama Senate race despite misconduct allegations

WASHINGTON - President Donald Trump on Tuesday appeared to offer support to Republican candidate Roy Moore in the Alabama Senate race, saying the former state judge "totally denies" allegations that he sexually molested underage girls years ago."He d...
Published: 11/21/17