Mueller was named by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein eight days after Comey's dismissal to lead the Russian Federation investigation as a special counsel, a position created to conduct investigations when a normal Justice Department probe would present a conflict of interest or in other extraordinary circumstances.
Sessions contradicted Comey, who last week told the intelligence committee that after an encounter with Trump in which he said Trump pressured him to back off an investigation into the former national security adviser, Comey "implored" Sessions to make sure he was never left alone with the president again - but that Sessions didn't respond.
Rosenstein said Comey had treated Clinton unfairly and broken with longstanding policy by announcing the results of the investigation at a press conference and by publicly reopening the investigation 11 days before the election.
The real audience: Jeremy Bash, a lawyer and former Obama national security official, told Brian Williams on MSNBC: "I think Mueller could use a grand jury and overcome this [implied] claim of executive privilege".
Mueller is interviewing as early as this week three top intelligence officials as part of the probe, the Post reported, citing "five people briefed on the requests". Comey testified publicly last week the Federal Bureau of Investigation was aware of reasons it would be problematic for Sessions to remain involved in the probe before he recused himself.
On Thursday, Russian President Vladimir Putin said Comey had presented no evidence to prove that Moscow meddled in the U.S. election, adding that Washington had tried to influence Russian elections "year after year", he said. Mr. Mueller inherited the criminal investigations into Mr. Flynn and Mr. Trump's former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort.
Regardless of the outcome, the specter of Mueller examining the possibility of obstruction of justice appeared to be a new blow to Trump, whose first five months in office have been clouded by the federal and congressional probes into the Russian Federation issue. A memorandum was prepared by the deputy attorney general, who evaluated his performance and noted some serious problems with it.
Rosenstein said he would agree to dismiss Mueller only if there were a legitimate basis to do so, and an order from the president would not necessarily qualify.
If Comey had information that Sessions would need to recuse himself, he said, that would have been "double reason" to talk to Boente.
Sessions maintained that he had not been briefed on the Russian Federation investigation between the time of his February swearing-in and his March 2 recusal.
Separately, the House committee said former Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson would appear at a June 21 public hearing on the Russian Federation probe. "And I have taken no action whatsoever with regard to any such investigation".
"I do not", Sessions said when asked whether he knows whether the president records his conversations.
Who knows if that can be proven, but it certainly would not surprise me.
"Sessions can probably get out of ever giving the answer to a Republican Congress, but my guess is his performance earned him a ticket to a grand jury".