Jun 13, 2017

Sessions lashes out at "secret innuendo" on Russia contacts


Attorney General Jeff Sessions came out swinging with his opening statement before the Senate Intelligence Committee Tuesday, adamantly denying claims of collusion with the Russians, and condemning the "secret innuendo being leaked" about his contacts with Russian officials:

"Let me state this clearly, colleagues, I have never met with or had any conversation with any Russians or any foreign officials concerning any type of interference with any campaign or election in the United States, further I have no knowledge of any such conversations by anyone connected to the Trump campaign... any suggestion I participated in or was aware of collusion with the Russians is an appalling and detestable lie."
Did you meet with the Russian Ambassador at the April 2016 Mayflower Hotel event?
  • "I did not have any private meetings nor do I recall any conversations with Russian officials at the Mayflower Hotel... if any brief interaction occurred in passing with the Russian ambassador during that reception, I do not remember it."
Why did you recuse yourself?
  • "I recused myself, not because of any wrongdoing... but because of a DOJ regulation... I felt it required it."
  • "I recused myself from the Russia probe, but I did not recuse myself from defending my honor against scurrilous and false allegations."
  • Sessions became angry when asked if there were any undisclosed reasons for his Russia probe recusal, as was suggested by Comey. "You tell me, Senator! There are none!"
What is your involvement in the Russia investigation?
  • Sessions said his briefings regarding the Russia investigation stopped a day after he was sworn in as AG. "I have no knowledge about this investigation as it is ongoing today beyond what has been publicly reported."
  • On Special Counsel Robert Mueller: "I have confidence in Mr. Mueller," said Sessions, but "[I] have not had any interactions with Special Counsel Mueller since his appointment."
  • Did Russia interfere in the November presidential election? "It appears so," said Sessions, adding that he was never briefed on the subject.
Why did you leave Comey alone with Trump prior to their Flynn conversation?
  • Sessions acknowledged that he lingered in the Oval Office, but left Comey because, "It didn't seem to me to be a major problem, I knew that Director Comey, long-time, experienced in the Dept. of Justice, could handle himself well."
  • Sessions contradicted Comey's testimony, and stated that he told Comey the next day that he would tell the WH to follow proper protocol.
What was your involvement in the firing of Comey?
  • "I cannot confirm or deny" whether I had a conversation with Trump about the firing of Comey.
  • Sessions said he was not aware of Trump taping his Oval Office conversations.
Why are you "stonewalling" questions from the Senate panel?
  • "I am not stonewalling."
  • Sessions invoked the "right" not to answer certain questions because the president might invoke executive privilege at some point in the future.
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Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 1 a.m. ET: 664,695 — Total deaths: 30,847 — Total recoveries: 140,156.
  2. U.S.: Leads the world in cases. Total confirmed cases as of 1 a.m. ET: 124,464 — Total deaths: 2,191 — Total recoveries: 1,095.
  3. Federal government latest: President Trump announces new travel advisories for New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, but rules out quarantine enforcement. Per the CDC, residents of those states must now "refrain from non-essential domestic travel for 14 days," with the exception of critical infrastructure industry workers.
  4. State updates: Alaska is latest state to issue a stay-at-home order — New York is trying to nearly triple its hospital capacity in less than a month and has moved its presidential primary to June 23. Some Midwestern swing voters who backed Trump's handling of the virus less than two weeks ago are balking at his call for the U.S. to be "opened up" by Easter.
  5. World updates: In Spain, over 1,400 people were confirmed dead between Thursday to Saturday.
  6. 🚀 Space updates: OneWeb filed for bankruptcy amid the novel coronavirus pandemic.
  7. Hollywood: Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson have returned to U.S. after being treated for coronavirus.
  8. What should I do? Answers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk
  9. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

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Coronavirus updates: Global death toll tops 30,000

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's Health Ministry. Note: China numbers are for the mainland only and U.S. numbers include repatriated citizens and confirmed plus presumptive cases from the CDC

The novel coronavirus has now killed more than 30,000 people around the world — with Italy reporting over 10,000 deaths, per Johns Hopkins data.

The big picture: The number of deaths from COVID-19 in the U.S. surpassed 2,000 on Saturday. The United States leads the world in confirmed coronavirus infections — more than 124,000 by late Saturday. The number of those recovered from the virus in the U.S. passed the 1,000-mark on Saturday evening.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 3 hours ago - Health

Trump rules out quarantine in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut after pushback

President Trump on the White House grounds on Saturdya. Photo: Sarah Silbiger/Getty Images

President Trump tweeted Saturday night that he's decided not to introduce quarantine enforcement measures fo New York, New Jersey and parts of Connecticut, but a "strong" travel advisory will be issued for those states. The CDC later announced domestic travel restrictions for the states.

Why it matters: Trump said hours earlier he was considering quarantine measures to combat the rise in novel coronavirus cases. But he received pushback, notably from New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D), who told CNN such a measure would cause "chaos." "This would be a federal declaration of war on states," Cuomo added.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 5 hours ago - Health