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"I am not stonewalling"

A furious Attorney General Jeff Sessions let his voice rise to a shout as he attacked "secret innuendo" at a high-drama hearing that wiped out afternoon soaps on the broadcast networks.

"I am not stonewalling," Sessions said when pressed on his reasons for recusing himself from the Justice Department's investigation into Russian interference in the election. "I am following the historic policies of the Department of Justice. ... I would push back on that."

Pressed by Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) on unstated reasons for his recusal, Sessions thundered: "There are none, Senator Wyden. There are none. ... This is a secret innuendo being leaked out there about me, and I don't appreciate it."

Wyden shot back: "We're going to keep digging."

Other key points from the hearing, which continues as we hit "send":

  • Sessions' money quote: "I did not recuse myself from defending my honor against scurrilous and false allegations."
  • Runner-up: [T]he suggestion that I participated in any collusion or that I was aware of any collusion with the Russian government to hurt this country ... is an appalling and detestable lie."
  • Sessions denied a private meeting with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak at the Mayflower but concedes he was there.
  • Jonathan Swan notes that Sessions hinted the national security team he supposedly ran for the Trump campaign was sort of a hot mess, never functioning as a team.
  • Sessions said he was one of the last few to leave the room before fired FBI Director Jim Comey met privately with Trump: "It didn't seem a major problem."
  • On Comey expressing concern after his private conversation with Trump: "He expressed concern to me about that private conversation. ... He gave me no details about what it was that he was concerned about."
  • On whether he knows if there are recordings of conversations in the Oval Office or elsewhere in the White House: "I do not."
  • Initial spin from the Republican National Committee: "Another hearing, another example of former FBI Director Comey not being honest."

Go deeper: Full highlights from the hearing. ... Top videos, curated by the Axios social media team.

What you missed
  1. Uber's CEO takes a break: Travis Kalanick will take a short leave of absence, the company confirmed today. Their plan.
  2. Shutdown watch: Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said today that, in some circumstances, a government shutdown could be "good." Quick hits.
  3. Dems in disarray: A caucus meeting between Democrats got testy today during a dispute over whether to impeach Trump. Details.
  4. The Russia hacks: Were worse than we thought, although there's still no evidence they succeeded. Toplines.
  5. American goes free from N.K.: Otto Warmbier, who was imprisoned last year by North Korea, has been freed. He's reportedly in a coma.
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