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News Wrap: Sessions insists he didn’t lie about Russian contacts to Senate

In our news wrap Wednesday, Attorney General Jeff Sessions insisted at a hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee that he never lied about his conversations with the Russian ambassador during the 2016 presidential campaign. Also, President Trump renewed his criticisms of former FBI director James Comey over the Hillary Clinton email probe.

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  • Hari Sreenivasan: 

    In the day’s other news: Attorney General Jeff Sessions insisted he never lied to the Senate Judiciary Committee about his conversations with the Russian ambassador during the presidential campaign. At a hearing today, he bridled at Democratic Senator Al Franken’s accusation that he’d — quote — “moved the goalposts” on the nature of his discussions.

  • Sen. Al Franken, d-minn.:

    First it was, I didn’t have communications with Russians, which wasn’t true. Then it was, I never met with any Russians to discuss any political campaign, which may or may not be true.

    Now it’s, I didn’t discuss interference in the campaign.

  • Jeff Sessions, Attorney General:

    Well, let me just say without hesitation, that I conducted no improper discussions with the Russians at any time regarding the campaign or any other item facing this country.

  • Hari Sreenivasan:

    Sessions has recused himself from the Justice Department’s investigation into Russia’s election meddling.

    President Trump had new criticism today for former FBI Director James Comey over the Hillary Clinton e-mail probe. He complained again that Comey decided to clear Clinton before she was even interviewed. That’s based on newly released draft statements by Comey from May of 2016. FBI officials say it was already clear that no charges were warranted.

    On another issue, the president faced fallout over the death of Army Sergeant La David Johnson in Niger this month. Congresswoman Frederica Wilson says she was with Mrs. Johnson when the president called. The Florida Democrat told The Washington Post that Mr. Trump said — quote — “He knew what he was signing up for, but I guess it hurts anyway.”

    The sergeant’s mother confirmed it, but the president denied it, and White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders went after Wilson.

  • Sarah Sanders, White House Press Secretary:

    This is a president who loves our country very much, who has the greatest level of respect for men and women in uniform and wanted to call and offer condolences to the family, and I think to try to create something from that, that the congresswoman is doing, is, frankly, appalling and disgusting.

  • Hari Sreenivasan:

    The Post also reported on another incident today. It quoted the father of a soldier killed in Afghanistan as saying the president offered $25,000 from his personal account, but never followed through.

    We will get more detail on all of this after the news summary.

    The death toll in Northern California’s wildfires rose to 42 today. Officials in Sonoma County found the remains of the latest victim, as they searched hundreds of burned homes. Meanwhile, fire crews made new gains overnight with the help of cooler weather and low winds.

    A two-time Olympic medalist says the former team doctor for U.S. women’s gymnastics sexually abused her for years. McKayla Maroney is the highest profile athlete to come forward in the scandal. In a statement today, she said Dr. Larry Nassar began molesting her when she was just 13. He’s awaiting sentencing on a child pornography charge, but has denied any sexual abuse.

    More questions tonight about drug pricing. A new study finds the costs of injectable cancer drugs, approved since 1996, rose an average of 25 percent over eight years. That’s far higher than the rate of inflation. The study was based at Emory University and published in “The Journal of Clinical Oncology.”

    And on Wall Street, health insurers and IBM fueled a surge in stocks today. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 160 points, more than half-a-percent, to close above 23000 for the first time. The Nasdaq rose just a fraction, and the S&P 500 was up two points.

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