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Sessions won’t say whether he and Trump have discussed pardons

The first topic Attorney General Jeff Sessions wouldn’t address before an open hearing of the Senate Intelligence Committee: whether he and the president have discussed pardons.

Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-Va.), the vice chairman of the panel, asked Sessions about the topic in his first round of questioning.

“I’m not able to comment on conversations with high officials within the White House,” Sessions responded. He said he wasn’t invoking executive privilege — that would be the president’s right, not his — but rather respecting that internal discussions should sometimes be kept private.

Sessions later clarified he was not trying to suggest that pardon conversations have taken place; he said he was simply not willing to detail his talks with the president. He had indicated in his opening statement that he would take that position.

“I cannot and will not violate my duty to protect the confidential communications I have with the president,” he said.

Sessions testifies before the Senate Intelligence Committee

Attorney General Jeff Sessions, a former senator from Alabama, will face his former colleagues this afternoon in a hearing before the Senate Intelligence Committee. He is expected to face questions on contacts with Sergey Kislyak, the Russian ambassador to the United States, and his role in the firing of James B. Comey as FBI director.