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sessions hearing

Sessions explains why he recused himself from Russia probe: It was 'not because of an asserted wrongdoing'

While testifying under oath Tuesday before the Senate Intelligence Committee, Attorney General Jeff Sessions explained exactly why he recused himself from the investigation into Russia's election meddling and the Trump team's potential ties to it. Sessions, who was a campaign surrogate for President Trump, insisted that it was "not because of an asserted wrongdoing, or any belief that I may have been involved in any wrongdoing in the campaign," but because of "a Department of Justice regulation" that he felt required his recusal. He said the regulation stipulated that DOJ employees "should not participate in investigations of a campaign if they served as a campaign adviser," as he did for Trump's campaign.

Based on that reasoning, Sessions said it was "absurd" to suggest he should not have weighed in on Trump's decision to fire former FBI Director James Comey, who was leading the ongoing FBI probe into possible collusion between Trump's team and Russia before being dismissed last month. "The scope of my recusal, however, does not and cannot interfere with my ability to oversee the Department of Justice, including the FBI," Sessions said.

Sessions also argued that his recusal didn't disqualify him from defending his own reputation. "I did not recuse myself from defending my honor against scurrilous and false allegations," Sessions said. Watch Sessions' explanation of his recusal below. Becca Stanek