Jeff Sessions' Senate hearing goes off the rails after heated battle with Al Franken

 

Attorney General Jeff Sessions engaged in a lengthy, heated exchange with Democratic Sen. Al Franken of Minnesota during a Senate hearing Wednesday. The battle focused on Sessions' January answer to the committee during his confirmation hearing regarding communications with Russian officials during the 2016 presidential campaign.

During a line of questioning from Franken in that January hearing, Sessions was asked what he would do as attorney general if he found evidence that "anyone affiliated with the Russian government" communicated with the Trump campaign through the election. In response, Sessions said he was both unaware of any such activities and insisted that he personally "did not have any communications with the Russians."

It was later reported that Sessions had a handful of conversations with then-Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak during the campaign. Sessions, as a result, recused himself from all Trump campaign-related matters as attorney general, though he insisted he did not attempt to mislead the committee.

15 PHOTOS
Putting the Trump-Russia timeline into perspective
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Putting the Trump-Russia timeline into perspective
June 7: The 2016 primary season essentially concludes, with both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton as the presumptive party nominees
June 9: Donald Trump Jr. — along with Jared Kushner and former campaign chair Paul Manafort — meets with Kremlin-connected lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya.
June 9: Trump tweets about Clinton's missing 33,000 emails
July 18: Washington Post reports, on the first day of the GOP convention, that the Trump campaign changed the Republican platform to ensure that it didn't call for giving weapons to Ukraine to fight Russian and rebel forces
July 21: GOP convention concludes with Trump giving his speech accepting the Republican nomination
July 22: WikiLeaks releases stolen emails from the Democratic National Committee
July 25: Democratic convention begins
July 27: In final news conference of his 2016 campaign, Trump asks Russia: "If you're listening, I hope you're able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing"
August 4: Obama CIA Director John Brennan confronts his Russian counterpart about Russia's interference. "[I] told him if you go down this road, it's going to have serious consequences, not only for the bilateral relationship, but for our ability to work with Russia on any issue, because it is an assault on our democracy," Brennan said on "Meet the Press" yesterday.
October 4: WikiLeaks' Julian Assange says his organization will publish emails related to the 2016 campaign
October 7: WikiLeaks begins releasing Clinton Campaign Chair John Podesta's emails
October 7: Department of Homeland Security and the Director of National Intelligence release a statement directly saying that Russia is interfering in the 2016 election
October 31: "This WikiLeaks is like a treasure trove," Trump says on the campaign trail
November 4: "Boy, I love reading those WikiLeaks," Trump says from Ohio.
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"This allegation that a surrogate — and I had been called a surrogate for Donald Trump — had been meeting continuously with Russian officials, and that's what I — it struck me very hard, and that's what I focused my answer on," he said in addressing Franken's question Wednesday. "And in retrospect, I should have slowed down and said, 'But I did meet one Russian official a couple of times, and that would be the ambassador.'"

Franken later said that "it's hard to come to any other conclusion than he just perjured himself." On Wednesday, he sought to push Sessions hard on that January exchange and Sessions' subsequent answers.

Sessions pushed back equally hard.

Franken said that once Sessions was confronted with the reports, he began to change his answer from not having any communications with the Russians to not having discussed a political campaign to eventually having his position be that he did not discuss election interference with Kislyak.

"So the goalposts have been moved," Franken said. "First, it was, 'I did not have communications with Russians,' which was not true. Then it was, 'I did not meet with any Russians to discuss any political campaign,' which may or may not be true. Now it's, 'I did not discuss interference in the campaign,' which further narrows your initial blanket denial about meeting with the Russians."

"Since you qualified your denial to say that you did not discuss issues of the campaign with Russians, what in your view constitutes issues of the campaign?" he said.

Sessions said in response that he could say "without hesitation" that he "conducted no improper discussions with Russians at any time regarding a campaign or any other item facing this country."

"I want to say that first, that's been the suggestion that you've raised and others, that somehow we've had conversations that were improper," he added.

That's when the back-and-forth started to get tense and the pair battled over Franken's allotted time to question Sessions.

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Jeff Sessions through the years
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Jeff Sessions through the years

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions pauses at a news conference at the Justice Department in Washington, U.S., March 2, 2017.

(REUTERS/Yuri Gripas)

Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama arrives at Trump Tower for meetings with President-elect Donald Trump works from home November 15, 2016. Making the vital choices for President-elect Donald Trump's White House cabinet has sparked intense infighting, CNN reported Monday, with one source calling it a 'knife fight.' The jobs to be filled include national security positions and West Wing posts, the television news network said, as Trump gathered with transition team members in New York.

(TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)

President-elect Donald Trump greets Senator Jeff Sessions, Trump's picks for attorney general, during a thank you rally in Ladd-Peebles Stadium on December 17, 2016 in Mobile, Alabama. President-elect Trump has been visiting several states that he won, to thank people for their support during the U.S. election.

(Photo by Mark Wallheiser/Getty Images)

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., right, and Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., nominee for attorney general, talk near the Ohio Clock after a meeting in the Capitol, November 30, 2016.

(Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Attorney General-designate, Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., speaks during a 'USA Thank You Tour 2016' event at the LaddPeebles Stadium in Mobile, AL on Saturday, Dec. 17, 2016.

(Photo by Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

Senator Jeff Sessions, attorney general pick for U.S. President-elect Donald Trump, right, listens as Senator Charles 'Chuck' Grassley, a Republican from Iowa, speaks during a meeting in Washington, D.C., U.S, on Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2016. Sessions, the 69-year-old, four-term Alabama Republican is a hard-liner on free trade and immigration, arguing that prospective immigrants don't have constitutional protections.

(Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

US President-elect Donald Trump (C) talks with Alabama Governor Robert Bentley (2nd L) and US Attorney General nominee Jeff Sessions (L) as he arrives in Mobile, Alabama, for a 'Thank You Tour 2016' rally on December 17, 2016.

(JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)

Mike Pence, 2016 Republican vice presidential nominee, left, and Senator Jeff Sessions, a Republican from Alabama, gesture during a campaign event for Donald Trump, 2016 Republican presidential nominee, not pictured, in Phoenix, Arizona, U.S., on Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2016. Trump returned to form in Phoenix Wednesday night with a nativist immigration plan definitively ruling out legal status for undocumented immigrants, as well as proposing to build a wall on the southern border of the United States and forcing Mexico to cover the cost.

(Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

MADISON, AL - FEBRUARY 28: United States Senator Jeff Sessions, R-Alabama, beomes the first Senator to endorse Donald Trump for President of the United States at Madison City Stadium on February 28, 2016 in Madison, Alabama.

(Photo by Taylor Hill/WireImage)

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT)(L) speaks during a Senate Budget Committee hearing on Capitol Hill, February 3, 2015 in Washington, DC. The committee is hearing testimony Office of Management and Budget Director Shaun Donovan on President Obamas FY2016 budget request. Also pitcured are (L-R), Chairman Michael Enzi (R-WY), Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), Sen. Mike Crapo (R-ID), Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), and Sen. Rob Poertman (R-OH).

(Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) (2nd L) speaks as Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) (L), and Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) (R) listen during a news conference September 9, 2014 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. The legislators discussed on immigration reform during the news conference.

(Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

House Budget Chairman, Paul Ryan, R-Wis., Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-AL., and members of the House Budget Committee during the House Budget Committee's news conference on the 'Introduction of the FY2013 Budget - Pathway to Prosperity.'

(Photo By Douglas Graham/Roll Call)

Sens. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., left, and Mike Lee, R-Utah, leave the Capitol en route to a news conference to oppose the immigration reform bill in the Senate.

(Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli performs during the National Prayer Breakfast as First Lady Michelle Obama (L), US President Barack Obama (2nd L) and Senator Jeff Sessions (3rd L), R-AL, watch on February 7, 2013 at a hotel in Washington, DC.

(MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)

Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-AL., talks with Sen. Patty Murray, D-WA., as they make their way to the Senate policy luncheons through the Senate subway in the U.S. Capitol on September 17, 2013.

(Photo By Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call)

Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., is interviewed by the press during the weekly Senate policy luncheons. The Senate vote will this afternoon on Obama's small-business tax relief legislation.

(Photo by Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call)

Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., speaks at the 'Iran Democratic Transition Conference,' hosted by the Institute of World Politics in Capitol Visitor Center. The conference explored the prospects of political change in Iran.

(Photo By Tom Williams/Roll Call)

US President Barack Obama (C) signs the Fair Sentencing Act in the Oval Office of the White House, on August 3, 2010 in Washington, DC. The law will aim to correct the disparities between crack and powder cocaine sentencing. Also in the picture (L to R); Attorney General Eric Holder, Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont, Democratic Representative Bobby Scott of Virginia, Democratic Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois, Republican Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama, Republican Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah and Democratic Representative Sheila Jackson-Lee of Texas. Previously, people in possession of powder cocaine could carry up to one hundred times more grams than crack offenders and receive the same sentence.

(Photo by Michael Reynolds-Pool/Getty Images)

U.S. Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan (L) shakes hands with Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) (R), ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, while Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) looks on, after she arrived for the first day of her confirmation hearings on Capitol Hill June 28, 2010 in Washington, DC. Kagan is U.S. President Barack Obama's second Supreme Court nominee since taking office.

(Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

The new co chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee Senator Jeff Sessions (D-AL) works in his office on Capitol Hill Tuesday morning May 02, 2009. Sen. Sessions speaks to Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) before visiting with US Supreme Court nominee Judge Sonia Sotomayor.

(The Washington Post via Getty Images)

US President Barack Obama (3rd-R) and Vice President Joe Biden (3rd-L) meet with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (2nd-R) ,D-NV, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (2nd-L),R-KY, Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Patrick Leahy (R) ,D-VT, and Senate Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Jeff Sessions (L),R-AL, about the upcoming Supreme Court nomination on May 13, 2009 at the White House in Washington, DC.  

(TIM SLOAN/AFP/Getty Images)

Committee Chairman Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) (R) listens as ranking member Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) (L) questions Supreme Court nominee Judge Sonia Sotomayor during the second day of her confirmation hearings July 14, 2009 in Washington, DC. Sotomayor faces a full day of questioning from Senators on the committee today. Sotomayor, an appeals court judge and U.S. President Barack Obama's first Supreme Court nominee, will become the first Hispanic justice on the Supreme Court if confirmed.

(Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

US President George W. Bush (L) listens as Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions (R) speaks during a Republican fundraiser for Sessions at the Arthur R. Outlaw Mobile Convention Center in Mobile, Alabama, 21 June 2007.

(SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)

US President George W. Bush (2R) waves as he stands with First Lady Laura Bush (R), Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions (2L) and his wife Mary (L) after a Republican fundraiser for Sessions at the Arthur R. Outlaw Mobile Convention Center in Mobile, Alabama, 21 June 2007.

(SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)

Baghdad, IRAQ: US Senators Ben Nelson, D-Nebraska, (L) and Jeff Sessions, R-Alabama, speak to the media after meeting Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki in Baghdad, 28 April 2007. Maliki told a delegation of visiting US lawmakers today that foreign powers should not try to influence the Iraqi political process. He also resisted calls for his Shiite-led government to rehabilitate former members of ousted Sunni dictator Saddam Hussein's regime. Maliki met a group of US congressmen shortly after their chamber voted for a law calling for a timetable for American troop withdrawal from Iraq.

(KHALID MOHAMMED/AFP/Getty Images)

U.S. Senator Jeff Sessions, R-AL, (C) speaks with the media as (L-R) U.S. Senator George Allen (R-VA), U.S. Representative David Dreier (R-CA) and U.S. Representative Paul Ryan (R-WI) listen at the White House after participating in a meeting with U.S. President George W. Bush on March 16, 2006 in Washington, DC. Senators from various states, including U.S. Senator John Kerry (D-MA), participated in a line item veto legislation meeting.

(Photo by Dennis Brack-Pool/Getty Images)

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., and Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., during a news conference after the Senate took a step Wednesday toward the 'security first' approach to immigration control promoted in the House, paving the way for action on legislation that would require construction of 700 miles of double-layered fencing along segments of the U.S. border with Mexico. Despite Democratic charges that Republicans were moving the bill (HR 6061) to score political points seven weeks before Election Day, the Senate voted 94-0 to limit debate on a motion to proceed to formal consideration of the measure. The bill (HR 6061), which would also authorize a 'virtual fence' of sensors, cameras, unmanned aerial vehicles and other surveillance technology along the entire southwest border, was passed by the House last week. Three more targeted border security and internal immigration enforcement measures are set for House action, possibly as early as Thursday. Frist supported an earlier Senate comprehensive bill that would offer a path to citizenship to millions of illegal immigrants. Sessions did not; he considers that aspect of the bill amnesty.

(Photo by Scott J. Ferrell/Congressional Quarterly/Getty Images)

U.S. Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC) (L), speaks with U.S. Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL) during a Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing for Alberto R. Gonzales January 6, 2005 in Washington, DC. U.S. President George W. Bush has nominated Gonzales to be the U.S. Attorney General.

(Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., in his office in the Russell Senate Office Building.

(Photo by Scott J. Ferrell/Congressional Quarterly/Getty Images)

Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., and Senator-elect Elizabeth Dole, R-N.C., talk in the Ohio Clock Corridor during the election meeting for Senate Republican leadership.

(Photo by Scott J. Ferrell/Congressional Quarterly/Getty Images)

Sen. Jeff Sessions at a hearing to examine 'President Clinton's Eleventh Hour Pardons.'

(Photo By Tom Williams/Roll Call/Getty Images)

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"So I want to ask you some questions," Franken said before asking Grassley for additional speaking time.

"Mr. Chairman," Sessions said to Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee. "I don't have to sit in here and listen to his charges without having a chance to respond. Give me a break."

Grassley then granted Franken additional time.

Sessions said Franken's initial question in January was not simple, adding it had a "very, very troubling" lead in and that he "answered to you in a way that I felt was responsive to what you raised in your question."

He then reread his initial answer to Franken, who responded that he did not "think that can fairly be interpreted to saying that I never had any conversations with Russians."

"Yes, you can say what you want to about the accuracy of it, but I think it was a good-faith response to a dramatic event at the time," Sessions said. "And I don't think it's fair for you to suggest otherwise."

Franken, seeking more time to speak on the panel, then turned back to Grassley.

"He took more than three minutes," Franken said.

"He took about two and a half," Grassley said back. "How much do you want? I don't want to take up a bunch of time bargaining with you."

Sessions chimed back in and said he "didn't take as much time as Sen. Franken took."

"Let me just deal with Sen. Franken," Grassley shot back, then awarding Franken an additional three minutes.

29 PHOTOS
Al Franken through the years
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Al Franken through the years
WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 1: Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) speaks during a meeting of the Senate Judiciary Committee to vote on the nomination of Attorney General nominee Jeff Sessions, on Capitol Hill, February 1, 2017 in Washington, DC. Sessions was approved by the committee in an 11 to 9 vote. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
Bumble Bee Al Franken (Photo by Owen Franken/Corbis via Getty Images)
SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE -- Episode 3 -- Pictured: Al Franken during 'The Franken and Davis Show' skit on October 21, 1978 -- Photo by: Alan Singer/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank
NEW YORK CITY - JUNE 19: Al Franken attends City Fair Benefit for Cystic Fibrosis on June 19, 1983 at Bloomingdale's in New York City. (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage)
Backstage with Al Franken at the Shadow Convention. (Photo by Rebecca D'Angelo/Sygma via Getty Images)
Actor Al Franken relaxing at Kaufman Astoria Studios. (Photo by James Leynse/Corbis via Getty Images)
NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 28: Al Franken attends the New York Friars Club Roast September 28, 2002 in New York City. The black-tie annual event was held in honor of Chevy Chase at the New York Hilton. (Photo by Graham Morrison/Getty Images)
NEW YORK - AUGUST 21: Al Franken's new book 'Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right' is seen August 21, 2003 in New York City. Fox News is suing the Franken and publisher Penguin arguing that the book's use of the phrase 'Fair and Balanced' is a trademark infringement. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
BOSTON - JULY 28: Political humorist Al Franken does a television interview on the floor of the FleetCenter on the third day of the Democratic National Convention July 28, 2004 in Boston, Massachusetts. Under heavy security, Democratic presidential candidate U.S. Senator John Kerry (D-MA) is expected to accept his party's nomination later in the week. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
Al Franken of the Air America Network reporting on the floor of the Republican National Convention during the second night at Madison Square Garden. (Photo by Ted Soqui/Corbis via Getty Images)
Al Franken at Earth to America! which airs on TBS Sunday, November 20 at 8 p.m. 10423MC_16017.JPG (Photo by M. Caulfield/WireImage for Temp Account)
LOS ANGELES - MARCH 25: Comedian and talk show host Al Franken was honored with the Humanitarian Award at the Human Rights Campaign's Gala Dinner at the Century Plaza Hotel on March 25, 2006 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
Actor and comedian Al Franken waves flag May 9, 2006, prior to his lecture at the 92nd Street Y in New York, NY. (Photo by Tim Boxer/Getty Images)
MINNEAPOLIS, MN -OCTOBER 21: U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton and U.S. Senate candidate Al Franken wave to the crowd at a rally October 21, 2008 at the McNamara Alumni Center at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Clinton told the crowd of more than 2,000 that Franken needs to win in order secure the 60 Senate seats needed to overcome a Republican filibuster. (Photo by Cory Ryan/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON - JANUARY 21: Minnesota Democratic senate hopeful Al Franken is shown at a meeting with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) on January 21, 2009 in Washington, DC. Franken and his opponent, incumbent Sen. Norm Coleman (R-MN), who held a slender lead following the election, are currently locked in a legal battle over a recount that put Franken ahead by 225 votes out of 2.9 million cast. (Photo by Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON - JULY 07: US Senator Al Franken (D-MN) (R) hugs a friend during a swearing in reenactment ceremony on Capitol Hill July 6, 2009 in Washington, DC. Last month a Minnesota court ruled that Al Franken won the Minnesota senate seat beating out Senator Norm Coleman (R-MN). (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) speaks during the confirmation hearings for Judge Sonia Sotomayor before the Senate Judiciary Committee July 13, 2009 in Washington, DC. Sotomayor, now an appeals court judge and US President Barack Obama?s first Supreme Court nominee, will become the first Hispanic justice on the Supreme Court if confirmed. AFP PHOTO/Nicholas KAMM (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)
US Senator Al Franken, a Democrat from Minnesota, listens to testimony on medical debt and bankruptcy before the US Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Administrative Oversight and the Courts on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, October 20, 2009. AFP PHOTO / Saul LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
Minnesota Senator Al Franken works on his laptop in Washington DC. (Photo by Owen Franken/Corbis via Getty Images)
Democratic US Senator for Minnesota Al Franken in his Capitol Hill office in Washington. (Photo by Brooks Kraft LLC/Corbis via Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - MAY 23: Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., listens to testimony from Melodee Hanes, acting administrator of the Justice Department's Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, at a Senate Judiciary Administrative Oversight and the Courts Subcommittee hearing on Protecting Our Children: The Importance of Training Child Protection Professionals.' (Photo by Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call)
WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 11: Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) speaks during a women's pro-choice rally on Capitol Hill, July 11, 2013 in Washington, DC. The rally was hosted by Planned Parenthood Federation of America to urge Congress against passing any legislation to limit access to safe and legal abortion. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 4: Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) speaks at a news conference to discuss the Affordable Care Act case being heard at the Supreme Court, on Capitol Hill in Washington, March 4, 2015 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. Today the Supreme Court was scheduled to hear oral arguments in the case of King v. Burwell that could determine the fate of health care subsidies for as many as eight million people. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, USA - JULY 8: Senator Al Franken during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Going Dark and data encryption in Washington, USA on JULY 8, 2015. (Photo by Samuel Corum/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 13: United States Senator Al Franken attends the 2016 Writers Guild Awards New York ceremony at The Edison Ballroom on February 13, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Jim Spellman/WireImage)
UNITED STATES - APRIL 07: Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., is interviewed by Roll Call in his Capitol hideaway about his upcoming Jeopardy appearance, April, 07, 2016. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 9: Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) speaks to reporters at a news conference dubbed #WeThePeople outside the Capitol on June 9, 2016 in Washington, D.C. Senate Democrats unveiled a new legislative proposal that will reform campaign finances and ensure fairer elections. (Photo by Gabriella Demczuk/Getty Images)
US Senator Al Franken gestures during Day 1 of the Democratic National Convention at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, July 25, 2016. / AFP / SAUL LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
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Franken then went after Sessions for saying earlier in the Wednesday hearing that he could not recall what he discussed with Kislyak, to which Sessions said "you make a lot of allegations" and "it's hard for me to respond to them."

Franken criticized Sessions then for having "morphed" his responses and "moving the goalposts every time."

"By the end, we're going to a 75-yard field goal," the Minnesota senator said.

Given another chance to respond, Sessions turned to Grassley and complained that Franken "gets to do about 10 minutes improperly framing this subject, and I'm given a short chance to respond."

Grassley told him to "proceed please."

Sessions called Franken's characterization of the who ordeal "totally unfair to me," saying he took Sessions' initial answer and is saying "if I've ever met with a Russian, then I'm not being candid with the committee, and I reject that."

That closed out the exchange. Just as the fireworks were ending, Republican Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebraska decided to throw in his own curveball. Apparently, Sasse had caused a commotion on the opposite side of the panel while Sessions and Franken were going back and forth.

"There was some drama there," Sasse said. "I sort of added to the drama and distracted you for a minute. I was paying enough attention there that I dumped a Dr Pepper on Sen. Cruz. So that's what was distracting us on this side of the dais."

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SEE ALSO: Trump says congresswoman 'fabricated' her account of his comments to a soldier's widow — but that soldier's mom said she did not

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