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Sessions Says I don't Recall; Trump Influencing Justice Department; Sessions on Investigating Clinton; Sessions Hearing. Aired 2-2:30p ET
Aired November 14, 2017 - 14:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[14:00:00] WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Very much for watching.
I'll be back 5:00 p.m. Eastern in "The Situation Room."
In the meantime, the news continues right now, right here on CNN.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Wolf Blitzer, thank you so much. We'll take it from here. I'm Brooke Baldwin. You're watching CNN. Thanks for being with me.
We begin with these really blockbuster developments in this Russia investigation. You have the attorney general, Jeff Sessions, just getting grilled under oath on everything Russia. And, by the way, it's not over. We're going to take you back to the hearing as soon as it starts up again on Capitol Hill.
Meantime, today, for the first time, Sessions, who was also a key official within the Trump campaign, had to face questions about this March 2016 meeting with George Papadopoulos. Papadopoulos, that's the former Trump campaign adviser who has pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about interactions with foreign officials close to the Russian government.
During that particular meeting in question here, Papadopoulos offered to set up this meeting between then candidate Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin. But, remember, it was Jeff Sessions who nixed that idea. That contradicts what Jeff Sessions said in earlier congressional testimony.
So for hours today you have the members of the House Judiciary Committee demanding that the attorney general explain that discrepancy. He said one thing one day. He's saying another today. But not before Jeff Sessions defended himself. Here he was.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEFF SESSIONS, ATTORNEY GENERAL: I have been asked to remember details from a year ago, such as who I saw on what day, in what meeting and who said what when. In all of my testimony I can only do my best to answer your questions as I understand them and to the best of my memory. But I will not accept and reject accusations that I have ever lied. That is a lie. Let me be clear, I have at all times conducted myself honorably.
REP. JERROLD NADLER (D), NEW YORK: Yes or no, did you chair the March 31, 2016 meeting of the National Security Advisory Committee?
SESSIONS: I did chair that meeting.
NADLER: Thank you.
Did Mr. -- yes or no, did Mr. Papadopoulos mention his outreach to the Russian government during that meeting?
SESSIONS: He made some comment to that effect as I remember after having read it in the newspaper.
NADLER: Yes. You don't have -- I asked for yes -- I asked for yes or no. I don't have time.
SESSIONS: Yes. All right.
NADLER: There are reports that you shut George down, unquote, when he proposed that meeting with Putin. Is this correct, yes or no?
SESSIONS: Yes. I pushed back. I'll just say it that way, because it was --
NADLER: Well, you -- yes. Your answer is yes.
NADLER: So you were obviously concerned by Mr. Papadopoulos' connections and his possibly arranging a meeting with Putin.
Now, again, yes or no, did anyone else at that meeting, including then candidate Trump, react in any way to what Mr. Papadopoulos had presented?
SESSIONS: I don't recall.
REP. ERIC SWALWELL (D), CALIFORNIA: Once and for all, can we answer the question?
SESSIONS: I am once and for all answering the question, congressman.
SWALWELL: Well --
SESSIONS: I don't understand why you won't take my answer.
SWALWELL: Well, we -- we're on the third edition, Mr. Attorney General. So during the -- your time on the campaign, did any person on earth state that they were communicating with Russians, traveling to Russia, or asked the campaign to meet with Russians, to your recollection?
SESSIONS: I am prepared to answer the question. But I just will not answer it in a way that suggests that I am anyway intentionally mislead anyone when I answered the question.
SWALWELL: What's the answer to the question, Mr. Attorney General?
SESSIONS: The answer is, I met with the ambassador.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: All right, so that's just a piece of some of what we've watched today.
Dana Bash is with me, our chief political correspondent.
We heard the vociferous, you know, defense of himself as an honorable person, an honorable man. But there was a heck of a lot of, "I don't recall," Dana.
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely, because, look, I mean, for people who, you know, sort of don't follow the intricacies of testimony before Congress, if he says "I don't recall," it gives him the sort of out, if you will, if he didn't -- if he's not right. And he has experience, as we heard in those clips, and as we've heard all morning, in more than one testimony before the Senate of saying things that turned out to not be true. And so that is why "I don't recall" was the refrain that we heard from him over and over again in an attempt to not get tripped up in a way that he did before.
What's interesting to me, Brooke, is that, you know, he said that he didn't remember the meeting with Papadopoulos when Papadopoulos mentioned -- broached the idea of the president meeting with Putin until he read about it in news reports. And, you know, I think what's interesting is, first of all, that it sort of -- he claims that that just jogged his memory. But also it -- at the end of the day, what the story says about Sessions is that he made the right decision, saying, don't do it. That's a terrible idea.
[14:05:14] But the fact that it's taking so long to come out, the fact that he was even there for that conversation, raises so many red flags considering the fact that this has become a pattern. And that was clearly the frustration and some of the partisanship that we saw from the Democrat side.
There was another takeaway, Dana, and it was this, that Jeff Sessions dismissed the suggestions that President Trump has been trying to influence his Justice Department on any of its decisions.
BASH: He -- no question. He -- I'm sorry, I thought you were going to a sound bite there.
Yes, there's no question that he was -- look, he's defending his honor. He's defending the people who work for him in the Justice Department, defending any suggestion that they are being lured into the political arena. The problem that Jeff Sessions has, Brooke, is that the president's own public statements fly in the face of the defense that Jeff Sessions made today. I mean the president has said publicly that he does not believe that the Justice Department is doing its job because they are not adequately investigating Hillary Clinton. I mean that's about as political as it gets from a president of the United States.
One thing I will say is that if the president was able to watch aboard Air Force One or while they're refueling, he probably wasn't all that happy with Jeff Sessions' response to a Republican congressman trying to press him on the notion of a second special prosecutor in -- to investigate Hillary Clinton. He didn't -- he didn't say immediately yes. He was very clear that he was going to follow the guidelines of the Justice Department on that. That is obviously the political issue that's front and center right now. A lot of pressure from conservative media. A lot of pressure from even the chair of that Judiciary Committee, the Republican Goodlatte to -- for the Justice Department to open that second special prosecutor to start investigating Hillary Clinton and other things in the Obama administration. But he did not -- he did not give an inch on that, at least today when he was -- when he was testifying.
BALDWIN: All valid questions. He's top of the DOJ as the A.G. We remember what President Trump was saying about the DOJ and, you know, looking into these things, as he was headed off to this Asia trip. So germane today.
Dana, stay with me.
Let me bring in another voice. I've got CNN national security analyst Samantha Vinograd.
And so, Sam, let's just go back to Jeff Sessions and remind people -- got a lot of sound coming up -- remind people what Jeff Sessions said before on the -- any political Russia contacts with anyone in the Trump campaign. Here he was.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. AL FRANKEN (D), MINNESOTA: You don't believe that surrogates from the Trump campaign had communication with the Russians. Is that what you're saying?
JEFF SESSIONS, ATTORNEY GENERAL: I did not and I'm not aware of anyone else that did. And I don't believe it happened.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: So, again, underscoring the point, Sam, he goes from a full- throated, you know, I don't recall anyone in the Trump campaign having any kind of contact with the Russians, to, as I was just talking to Dana, OK with regard to, yes, there was a meeting in '16, Papadopoulos, that was the whole should or shouldn't candidate Trump meet with Putin. And now he's saying, OK, since the media reports, yes, I do remember that. Your reaction to that?
SAMANTHA VINOGRAD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: My reaction is -- and I hate to make everything about Russia -- but this is a really good day for Vladimir Putin. BALDWIN: Why?
VINOGRAD: All of this back and forth between what Jeff Sessions does recall or doesn't recall or when Donald Trump Junior was or was not in touch with WikiLeaks accomplishes Vladimir Putin's goal of undermining confidence in our institutions. It's clear that if we just look at the facts, Donald Trump Junior, for example, was in touch with an organization that Mike Pompeo has called a non-state hostile intelligence services. That organization, the intelligence community agrees, received information from the Russian government. So what's clear to me is that Donald Trump Junior was an intelligence target of the Russian intelligence services and he fell for it.
BALDWIN: Listening to you I'm also watching Jeff Sessions.
Guys, should we go back and rejoin this hearing? Recess over?
Sam, thank you.
Dana, thank you.
Let's dip back in, House Judiciary and the attorney general.
[14:09:35] REP. MATT GAETZ (R), FLORIDA: You're aware of the July 27th letter that the Judiciary chairman and 20 members of the committee sent demanding a special counsel?
JEFF SESSIONS, ATTORNEY GENERAL: Yes.
GAETZ: And you're aware of the November 13th response that we received late last evening provided by the assistant attorney general?
GAETZ: Did you direct Mr. Boyd to draft that response?
SESSIONS: Ah, we discussed that and he drafted it, yes.
GAETZ: Did anyone else direct Mr. Boyd to draft this response? Or was it just you?
SESSIONS: I think it would have been a direction from me.
GAETZ: Did you review the letter before it was sent?
GAETZ: And you agree with what's laid out in the letter?
SESSIONS: I think so.
GAETZ: So I'm now going to quote, I think it's in the third paragraph, it says, "The attorney general has directed senior federal prosecutors to evaluate certain issues raised in your letters. These senior prosecutors will report directly to the attorney general and the deputy attorney general," when you say the "deputy attorney general" you're referring to Mr. Rosenstein?
SESSIONS: I'm impressed with Mr. Rosenstein. Yes, he's a friend.
GAETZ: So in this circumstance you contemplate, where senior prosecutors are doing the analysis of the issues raised in Chairman Goodlatte's letter, and then reporting back, do you contemplate, by using the conjunction "and" -- that you and Mr. Rosenstein would be briefed simultaneously?
SESSIONS: I would think so.
GAETZ: Who is the final decision-maker? You or Mr. Rosenstein on these matters?
SESSIONS: I would make the final decision, I would assume, unless there -- it implicates an issue that I'm not, ah, that I'm recusing, or it would be improper for me to be involved with.
GAETZ: And that, that goes to the very basis of my questions. I'm trying to find out, on the very issues raised in Chairman Goodlatte's letter, on the very issues referenced in this response, it is stated in this response that it is the attorney general and the deputy attorney general that make a decision. So are you saying that it is the attorney general, it is your decision that is dispositive on those matters?
SESSIONS: Yes. Unless -- conflict or -- that I would make a decision, yes. He would report to both office. (ph)
GAETZ: Do you see such a conflict as we sit here now?
SESSIONS: Ah -- well, some of the matters could implicate matters that Mr. Mueller has, for example, that I have recused myself from. Other matters.
GAETZ: Well, let's go -- other than the matters that Mr. Mueller's dealing with, are there any other matters that you would, you would see a circumstance where the issue's been raised in Chairman Goodlatte's letter, where you would anticipate a recusal on your part?
SESSIONS: I won't pre-judge that, but it's possible.
GAETZ: Do you have the authority today, subject to your recusal, to appoint a special counsel to investigate the Uranium One matter?
SESSIONS: I believe I do.
GAETZ: Do you have the authority to appoint a special counsel to investigate the Fusion GPS Dossier?
SESSIONS: I don't believe that I should be talking about and evaluating cases here today.
GAETZ: I'm not asking you to evaluate a case --
(CROSSTALK) SESSIONS: Well, you basically are.
GAETZ: I'm asking you to evaluate your authority to appoint a special counsel. Not that -- I don't want to know anything about the investigations. I don't even want to know if the investigations are happening or not happening.
SESSIONS: So if I'm not recused I have the authority, yes. And the duty, and the responsibility to make that decision.
GAETZ: Okay. As it relates to Loretta Lynch using the pseudonym 'Elizabeth Carlisle' -- are you recused on that matter?
SESSIONS: I don't think so. And, but --
GAETZ: Are you recused in the GPS matter?
SESSIONS: There ago, I'm not able to -- comment about that. But I would say, in defense of Attorney General Lynch, I used the same, I have a pseudonym also. I understand all cabinet officials do, and maybe some sub-cabinet officials do. But she was probably --
GAETZ: Let's go back to the --
SESSIONS: But she probably had been following the advice of the Department of Justice. I'm just saying --
GAETZ: That's fine.
SESSIONS: We have to be careful --
GAETZ: I'm no longer interested in that. So I just want to -- you to be clear that as it relates to the Uranium One matter, you do believe you have the authority to appoint a special counsel and you do not believe that that authority that you have is subject to any recusal at this time.
SESSIONS: Ah, I cannot say that.
GOODLATTE: Time with the gentleman has expired. The chair recognizes the gentleman from California, Mr. Lieu. Five minutes.
LIEU: Thank you, Mr. Chair. Hello, Mr. Sessions.
LIEU: Donald Trump has asked various individuals to pledge an oath of loyalty to him. Did Donald Trump ever ask you to pledge an oath of loyalty to him?
SESSIONS: Ah, no.
LIEU: If Donald Trump were to ask you to pledge loyalty to him or to take such an oath, would you do so?
SESSIONS: Well, I don't know what a pledge of a loyalty oath is. Ah, we all owe loyalty to our supervisors. I've always done that to my bosses and supervisors, so -- you know, people are expected to be loyal to their Executive Branch head --
LIEU: The correct answer --
SESSIONS: But if you --
-- some sort of improper loyalty oath that goes beyond the commitment that --
LIEU: Thank you, Mr. Sessions. Let's talk about --
SESSIONS: All in all, I have not.
LIEU: Thank you, Mr. Sessions. Let me reclaim my time. Let's talk about your contacts with a foreign power. So last year, how many interactions did you have with Russian government official Sergey Kislyak? I just need a number. Is it three?
SESSIONS: Of all foreign officials? Or just?
LIEU: Russian Government Official Ambassador Sergey Kislyak last year, how many interactions did you have with him?
SESSIONS: I spoke at the Republican Convention. I came off the platform and the people were there and we chatted a moment, had an encounter. Ah, several, a couple months later, I believe in September, he asked for a meeting and I provided that. I met with over, approximately 25 ambassadors last year and I had that same day as, well, excuse me, go ahead.
LIEU: Thank you, Mr. Sessions, thank you. As attorney general you have a security clearance. Correct?
LIEU: And to get that security clearance you submitted a security clearance application, also known as SF86 Form. Correct?
SESSIONS: That's correct.
LIEU: I submitted such a form when I served on active duty in the U.S. Air Force and the form requires you to certify, under penalty of perjury, that information submitted was true, complete and correct to the best of your knowledge. You certified your security clearance form. Correct?
SESSIONS: That is correct.
LIEU: On the video screen, show you a question from that form and it says, "Have you or any of your immediate family in the past seven years had any contact with a foreign government, its establishment, such as embassy, counselor (ph), agency, military service, intelligence or security (INAUDIBLE), etc., or its representatives, whether inside or outside the U.S.?"
The answer that you gave was "No," what you just told us under oath was exactly the opposite. So I'm going to ask you, Mr. Sessions, were you lying then, when you filled out the form? Or are you lying now?
SESSIONS: Well, I was told by my executive assistant, when we did this form earlier and then again when I was nominated for attorney general, that the FBI authority said, members of Congress and effectively government officials meeting people on an official basis, you were not required to list all these contacts.
LIEU: Nothing in that question says you get to answer any differently because you are a U.S. senator rather than say, a young police officer. Isn't that right?
SESSIONS: Well, you're --
LIEU: Nothing in that question authorizes you to answer any differently. Isn't that right?
SESSIONS: I would say that nobody at the FBI or any other place, to my knowledge, said you left that blank. Surely you've met with some foreign officials in the last seven years. I've not had any private business dealings or any things of that nature. My contacts would be in the normal course of --
LIEU: Let me ask you, when have you --
SESSIONS: -- senatorial business.
LIEU: Let me ask you about one of your international --
SESSIONS: I thought that was a reasonable answer.
LIEU: You said under oath today that you had a meeting with Ambassador Kislyak of under an hour. That's pretty long. Was it more than 50 minutes?
SESSIONS: I doubt it was 50 minutes, but it may have been.
(CROSSTALK) LIEU: Forty-five?
SESSIONS: Forty-five, 50 minutes.
LIEU: All right. Did you discuss campaign --
LIEU: Did you discuss campaign-related items, such as Ukraine with the ambassador?
SESSIONS: Well, that's not campaign-related.
LIEU: All right. I'm going to ask you two simple questions --
SESSIONS: Yes, we did talk about Ukraine. We actually had an argument about the Ukraine, because the day before the Ukrainian ambassador was in my office making his case against Russia and I raised those issues with Mr. Kislyak and he was, as I referred to it, I think, the classic, we did nothing wrong.
LIEU: I'm glad (INAUDIBLE) --
SESSIONS: Ukrainian did everything wrong. That was his --
LIEU: Let me ask you two simple questions, because in a sense you've already answered it. You did have communications with the Russians last year. Isn't that right?
SESSIONS: Repeat that.
LIEU: You did have communications with the Russians last year. Isn't that right? Just yes or no.
SESSIONS: I had a meeting with the Russian ambassador, yes.
LIEU: Great. That's exactly the opposite answer you gave under oath to U.S. Senate. So again, either you're lying to U.S. Senate or you're lying to U.S. House of Representatives.
SESSIONS: Well --
GOODLATTE: The time of the gentleman has expired. The witness can answer any further if he chooses to.
SESSIONS: I won't repeat it, Mr. Chairman, but I hope the congressman knows and I hope all of you know, that my answer to that question, I did not meet with the Russians, was explicitly responding to the shocking suggestion that I, as a surrogate, was meeting on a continuing basis with Russian officials and the implication was to impact the campaign in some sort of nefarious way. And all I did was meet in my office with the ambassador, which we didn't discuss anything like that. So I just want to say, I appreciate the congressman's right. I guess he can say it's free speech. He can't be sued here. So I just -- my response, I'm sorry that -- that's my response.
GOODLATTE: The chair recognizes the gentleman from Louisiana, Mr. Johnson for five minutes.
M. JOHNSON: Thank you, Mr. Chairman and Mr. Attorney General, thank you for your service to this country. Thank you for being here today. Much has been said in recent months about the aggressive agendas of hostile foreign actors to undermine our nation's democratic process, as we've talked a lot about it today. The American people are rightfully concerned about these subversive efforts, because it seems to taint our public policy and our elections.
That's at least the agenda that some have. And it's been almost 70 years since Congress first enacted the Foreign Agents Registration Act, to limit and keep track of outside influences. And as you know, that law created critical disclosure requirements for any lobbying group that works on behalf of foreign interests here in the U.S., so their advocacy and activities can be properly evaluated in light of their associations.
General Sessions, the question today is, as you know, the current Special Counsel Investigation has revealed several high profile Washington elites, on both sides of the aisle, for example, Mr. Podesta, Mr. Manafort, who have violated the Foreign Agents Registration Act. Would you agree that without the special investigation, these cases would likely not have become public?
SESSIONS: Perhaps. But I -- let me back off of that to say I really have not followed that closely and I'm not, I do not have privy to the information and it would be inappropriate, really, for me to express an opinion.
M. JOHNSON: I accept that. The point is that a lot of these things have stayed below the radar because there's not been appropriate focus and attention on it and the special investigation has brought that and in the view of many of us, it's long overdue.
There's historical evidence going back as far as the administration of George H.W. Bush, highlighting failed attempts to reform the law in this area and this is despite repeated recommendations to develop a strategy integrated with the DOG's overall national security efforts and similar calls for higher means of enforcement. But there's been no substantive action by any congress over all that time and there's been a sharp decline of corresponding decline in compliance over the last two decades.
So clearly, everybody can agree, much has changed in the world since the FAIR law was enacted in 1938. Question is, would you agree to work with us -- us, me and this committee to correct these very serious problems, so we can update our disclosure laws, so that the American people can see what's going on behind the veil?
SESSIONS: Ah, I would. I believe our professional staff have been at this for some time, have communicated with some senators who've got ideas and have probably have communicated with you and I would be glad to continue that.
M. JOHNSON: You have and we appreciate it. Senator (INAUDIBLE) --
SESSIONS: They have taken some action on, I think it's only seven cases in what? Years? Decades?
M. JOHNSON: Yes. In decades.
SESSIONS: And -- so we've brought one enforcement action against R.T.; Russian TV, I guess it is.
M. JOHNSON: Right.
SESSIONS: In effect. Some part of that. And so -- it's a matter worth serious consideration. I thank you for giving it that.
M. JOHNSON: Yes, sir. Senator Grassley and I have filed companion bills to clear up the ambiguities in existing law and allow the O.J. more oversight, so we do appreciate your attention. Another issue. On September 5th, I led (ph) a letter to office with 17 other members from Louisiana and Texas, requesting a thorough investigation of Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast actions, harvesting and transferring fetal tissue and for financial gain. And I would ask Mr. Chairman for a unanimous consent to enter a copy of that letter into the record.
GOODLATTE: That objection will be made a part of the record.
M. JOHNSON: Specifically we requested that your office look into the congressional findings of the Select Investigative Panel on Infant Lives from last year. The panel stated that this was just one of 15 criminal and regulatory referrals made to various state and federal agencies for it, which were referred to the Justice Department. So the question is, do you have any updates on that today? On those issues or our request? And if not, could we get one of those soon?
SESSIONS: I will review the letter. I do not have it at the top of my head, I'm sorry to say. But we'll look at it and I believe the Congress, Mr. Chairman and members here are entitled to a prompt response from the attorney general and the Department of Justice. We've already reduced the backlog of some 400 letters by half and we're going to, when the dust settles on our time here, I think you'll see, we've far sur-, we're more responsive than you've had in the past. Because I was in your shoes and I had, as Chairman Grassley reminded me, letters that I had had pending for a long time not answered. So. M. JOHNSON: Fair enough and I know you've been busy. Third issue, I'm almost out of time, but October 12th you made remarks to the Executive Office for Immigration Review and you stated how the Immigration Court system is being gained in many ways. Today you mentioned again about the Credible Fear process being abused. Is it your belief that Congress should act to enhance the Credible Fear standard and if we do that, what impact would it have on fraudulent and dilatory claims filed in Immigration Courts?
SESSIONS: It would have a very significant impact. We have about 90 percent of the people who make those claims are referred for some sort of hearing. Many of those are quickly determined not to be substantial. I remember when the bill passed. And I remember an experienced senator, I'll say, Senator John Kyl of Arizona -- he said, this is a huge thing. You don't know how big this is going to turn out to be and it took a number of years, but it certainly proved to be, his prediction proved to be correct. We did not need to do that then and we ought to go -- we need to curtail it.
M. JOHNSON: We found some letters --
SESSIONS: (INAUDIBLE) Chairman, good last proposals -- or fix some of that.
M. JOHNSON: We're working on that. Appreciate your time (INAUDIBLE).
SESSIONS: Thank you.
GOODLATTE: Sure. Thanks, gentlemen. The chair recognizes the gentleman from Maryland, Mr. Raskin for five minutes.
RASKIN: Thank you, Mr. Chair. Mr. Attorney General. President Trump has called the press "the enemy of the people", although I think the founders probably thought that a free press was the people's best friend. As attorney general, will you commit not to prosecute investigative journalists for maintaining the confidentiality of their professional sources?
SESSIONS: I will commit to respecting the role of the press. And -- and conducting my office in a way that respects that and the rules within the Department of Justice.
RASKIN: But nothing specific.
SESSIONS: We have not had a conflict in my term in office yet with the press, but there are some things that the press seems to think they have an absolute right to, they do not have an --
SESSIONS: -- absolute right --
RASKIN: Thank you much. Did you May 10th, 2017 memorandum instructing federal prosecutors to seek the most serious possible charges for criminal defendants and the longest possible sentences, extend to defendants who are charged by Special Counsel Mueller, like Paul Manafort, Rick Gates, George Papadopoulos and so on?
SESSIONS: I would think so. I haven't given that much thought. I would say it's not, it does not call for the most maximum sentence. It simply calls for charging the crime, the most serious crime and --
RASKIN: With the highest --
SESSIONS: -- minimum sentence for that most serious crime.
RASKIN: Got you. I was confused about one thing that came up in the various questioning about the meetings with Mr. Papadopoulos. At one point I heard you to say that you told him essentially, no, don't go. You tried to shut it down, the trip. At another point I thought I heard you say, don't represent yourself as speaking for the campaign. And I'm just wondering whether you could clarify that. Were you telling him not to go, or just not to go and officially speak for the Trump campaign?
SESSIONS: I have no specific -- I remember the push back. I remember that he suggested an ability to negotiate with Russians or others and I thought he had no ability or it would not be appropriate for him to do so and I was pretty clear about -- that he shouldn't be pretending to represent --
RASKIN: Were you equally clear with Mr. Gates at the June meeting? Not to go to Russia and not to represent the campaign? Mr. Page, rather.
SESSIONS: Mr. Page?
RASKIN: Mr. Page, yeah.
SESSIONS: Well, let me tell you what he says I don't recall it. He says he was in the dinner and as he walked out, he told me I'm going to Russia and I made no response, what so ever. He said it looked like he -- went in one ear and out the other. And that he did nothing improper when he went to Russia.
Well, I don't know what he did, and have no knowledge of him (ph) giving a report to me, and did act for (ph) me. And so as far as I know, he didn't act for the campaign.
RASKIN: Fair enough. You've taken the position that members of Congress having no standing to sue in federal court to challenge President Trump's continuing receipt of foreign government payments a the Trump Hotel, the Trump Tower, the Trump golf courses, and so on. As Attorney General, our leading law enforcement official, what is the appropriate constitutional remedy for a President who collects foreign emoluments without obtaining congressional permission to do so? As a matter of law, what is the appropriate remedy?
SESSIONS: I would have to take a look at that. I'm not prepared to give you an answer. People have blasted (ph) -
[14:29:37] RASKIN: Well, you've taken the position that we don't have any standing to raise it in court. So I guess what -- in taking that position that we don't' have standing to raise it, what is the appropriate constitutional remedy? This was very serious business for the founders of the country, who didn't want the President compromised by foreign government pay offs and by the intervention of foreign governments. So what do we do?
SESSION: The emoluments clause has not been a subject of a great deal of litigation. It -- the Department of Justice has long standing rules about standing --