Attorney General Jeff Sessions got into a fiery exchange with one of his former colleagues during testimony Tuesday, after Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., opened up his line of questioning with an accusation that Sessions was "stonewalling."
After thanking Senate Intelligence Committee leaders for holding the Russia-related hearing in public, Wyden declared, "The American people have had it with stonewalling. Americans don't want to hear that answers to relevant questions are privileged and off-limits, or that they cannot be provided in public, or that it would be quote 'inappropriate' for witnesses to tell us what they know."
Sessions had claimed earlier in the hearing that he is unable to reveal confidential communications with President Trump and doubled down on that notion in his response to Wyden.
"I am not stonewalling," Sessions argued, adding he was simply "following the historic policies of the Department of Justice. You don't walk into any hearing, or committee meeting, and reveal confidential communications with the president of the United States, who is entitled to receive confidential communications in your best judgment about a host of issues."
Things got even more tense, however, when Wyden asked Sessions to respond to a claim that former FBI Director James Comey had made before the committee just last week regarding Sessions' recusal from the ongoing FBI investigation into claims of Russian interference in the 2016 election and possible ties to the Trump campaign.
'This is a secret innuendo being leaked out there about me, and I don't appreciate it'
"Mr. Comey said that there were matters with respect to the recusal that were problematic, and that he couldn't talk about them. What are they?" Wyden asked.
"Why don't you tell me?" Sessions fired back, before claiming "there are none." And Sessions wasn't done yet.
"This is a secret innuendo being leaked out there about me, and I don't appreciate it," Sessions said. "People are suggesting through innuendo that I have been not honest about matters, and I've tried to be honest."
Sessions went on to say that "some of that leaked out of the committee that [Comey] said in closed sessions."
Wyden attempted to end his line of questioning by suggesting one of Sessions’ answers with respect to Comey's firing "doesn't pass the smell test." Sessions managed to get in a final response, arguing that his signing off on Comey's firing did not violate his recusal from the Russia investigation, as Wyden alleged.