Sessions: Significance of Comey's 'error' on 'Clinton matter' not fully understood

Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsDOJ should take action against China's Twitter propaganda Lewandowski says he's 'happy' to testify before House panel The Hill's Morning Report — Trump and the new Israel-'squad' controversy MORE during a Senate hearing on Wednesday criticized James Comey, saying the "significance of the error" the former FBI director made on the "Clinton matter" has not been fully understood. 

Sessions made the comments after telling the Senate Judiciary Committee that he cannot discuss the content of the conversations he's had with President Trump. Sessions said the president is entitled to have private, confidential communications with his Cabinet officials.

In opening remarks, committee Chairman Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyGOP senators call for Barr to release full results of Epstein investigation Trump health official: Controversial drug pricing move is 'top priority' Environmental advocates should take another look at biofuels MORE (R-Iowa) and ranking member Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinTrump administration urges Congress to reauthorize NSA surveillance program The Hill's Morning Report - More talk on guns; many questions on Epstein's death Juan Williams: We need a backlash against Big Tech MORE (D-Calif.) told Sessions they wanted to know why the president fired Comey in the midst of investigations into whether Trump campaign officials colluded with Russia during the 2016 presidential race.

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Feinstein told Sessions it's important to understand what role he had in this process, including conversations he had with the president and others in the White House.

Sessions, however, made clear he won't be answering such questions. He said he could not waive executive privilege.

Feinstein pressed him during her line of questioning anyway, asking what his designated role was in Comey's firing. Sessions said he was asked to make a recommendation in writing and submitted it to the president.

"I don't think it's been fully understood the significance of the error Mr. Comey made on the Clinton matter," he said, referring to Comey's role in the investigation of former Democratic presidential nominee Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonTop Sanders adviser: Warren isn't competing for 'same pool of voters' Anti-Trump vets join Steyer group in pressing Democrats to impeach Trump Republicans plot comeback in New Jersey MORE's use of a private email server. "For the first time I'm aware of in all of my experience ... a major case in which DOJ prosecutors were involved in an investigation that an investigative agency announced the closure of an investigation."

Sessions noted that Comey said a few weeks later that he would do it again.

"I think that was a basis that called for a fresh start at the FBI," he said.

The annual Department of Justice oversight hearing marked the first time Sessions has appeared before the committee since taking office in February.

--This report was updated at 11:14 a.m.