Sen. Mark Warner Grills Sessions About Potential Flynn Pardon, "Peculiar" Timing Of Comey Firing


Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-Va.), the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, questions Attorney General Jeff Sessions about whether the possibility of pardons had been considered in the Russia collusion investigation, or for fired national security adviser Mike Flynn.

Sessions noted that he in no way wanted to imply that the answer was yes, but that it is not appropriate for him to discuss Justice Department internal discussions.

Warner continued asking, three or four times: "Is the basis of that unwillingness to answer based on executive privilege?"

Sessions replies that it is a "longstanding policy not to comment on conversations that the Attorney General has had with the president... for confidential reasons, which are really founded on the coequal branches of the government of the U.S."

Warner repeats, looking for the soundbite: "I'm not understanding. Are you claiming executive privilege here today sir?"

"I am not claiming executive privilege because that is the president's power, and I do not have the power to claim executive privilege."

Not to be deterred, Warner continues: "What about conversations with other Dept. of Justice or White House officials about pardons -- not the president."

"Without in any way suggesting that I have had any conversations about pardons -- totally apart from that - there privileges of communication within the Dept. of Justice that we share, all of us. We have a right to have full and robust debate within the Dept. of Justice... And those arguments are not revealed historically, we've seen they should not be revealed," Sessions responded.


Warner's next question: Did you ever have a conversation with Director Comey that he was not doing a good job?

"So you were his superior, and there were some fairly harsh things said about Director Comey, you never thought it was appropriate to raise those concerns before he was fired by the president?"

This is the point in the story where the Rod Rosenstein memo comes into play. "I agreed with those [recommendations]," Sessions said. "It is something we both agreed to, that a fresh start at the FBI was probably the best."

Warner suggests that the timing of the firing was "peculiar" and moves on to ask again about the Mayflower Hotel 'meeting'.

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