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Jeff Sessions knows 'nothing' about Russian hacking

At a Senate hearing, the attorney general calls hacking during the election a "serious matter," but says he never received any details about it.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions

Attorney General Jeff Sessions testifies during the Senate Select Intelligence Committee hearing on Tuesday.

Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call

If you want to find out more about Russian hacking during the 2016 US presidential election, don't bother asking Jeff Sessions.

The attorney general testified on Capitol Hill on Tuesday as the FBI investigation into Russia's influence on the presidential election continues. He denied any ties between Donald Trump's campaign and Russia, and told senators he was never filled in on the hacking details.

"I've never received any detailed briefing on how hacking occurred or how information was alleged to have influenced the campaign," Sessions said.

The attorney general added that he's never read any reports on Russian hacking, and has a hard time remembering crucial details about the fallout. After then-President Barack Obama retaliated against Russia with a series of sanctions, Sessions said he doesn't "recall any such conversations" on sanctions.

Despite having privileged access as the head of the US Department of Justice, hand-picked by Trump, Sessions said he knows about as much about Russian hacking as the average American.

"I know nothing but what I've read in the paper," Sessions said.

Sessions has been under political fire as he recused himself from the investigation, and then in May recommended firing FBI director James Comey

Senators questioned Sessions on his encounters with Russian ambassadors, why Comey was fired and if Russia colluded with Trump's campaign. During the election, Sessions was the first senator to endorse Trump and joined the president many times on the campaign trail. 

As part of the campaign, the former Alabama senator said Trump's team and Russian hackers were not working together.

"I can assure you that none of those meetings discussed manipulating a campaign in the United States in any way, shape, or form, or any hacking," Sessions said. 

He told senators that Russians hacking the Democratic National Committee was "a serious matter" and illegal.

"What you're talking about is hacking into a private person or the DNC's computer and obtaining information and spreading that out. That's just not right," Sessions said.

Sessions did acknowledge the serious threat of cyberterrorism. 

"We do not have a sufficient strategy dealing with technological and IT penetrations of our systems," he said. "I truly believe (cyberdefense is) more important than I ever did before."

Read more about Sessions' testimony at CBS News

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