In a public hearing live-streamed on Senate Intelligence Committee’s website, Attorney General Jeff Sessions testified for the first time before Congress on Tuesday since he recused himself from the Justice Department’s probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election. However, he was accused of “evasiveness” by several Democratic senators including California’s Kamala Harris who was silenced for the second time this week while asking a question.

In his opening remarks, Sessions cited Justice Department’s “longstanding policy” and insisted it was his duty to “protect confidential communications with the President.” Harris wanted to know if he could point out the policy he was referring to that stopped him from answering the queries of senators. She was interrupted by her Republican colleague, Sen. John McCain from Arizona, when she was sought an answer from Sessions. Committee Chairman Richard Burr then intervened and urged Harris to “let Sessions answer the question.” Sessions, however, never answered that question.

Later, Harris took to Twitter and asserted the country needs to know the truth.

In a similar exchange last week, Harris was cut off by McCain when she posed a question to Deputy Attorney Rod Rosenstein and Burr ended up stepping in and asked Harris to let Rosenstein speak.

Many social media users were reminded of a similar episode involving Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts), who was cut off in the Senate while asking a question. That incident led to something of a feminist outpouring around the phrase “Nevertheless she persisted.”

In February, Senate majority leader Mitch McConell (R-Kentucky) cut short Warren’s speech against Sessions’ appointment as the country's top enforcement law officer. Conell, who invoked his procedural right for silencing Warren, invited criticism later.  However, he justified his action, saying: “She was warned. She was given an explanation. Nevertheless, she persisted.”

Sessions defends Comey’s firing 

Sessions’ testimony comes after former FBI Director James Comey appeared before the same panel last week. During the public hearing, however, Sessions defended Comey’s firing. A question about Comey’s remark last week over Sessions’ recusal from the Russia probe also rattled the attorney general.

"Many have suggested that my recusal is because I felt I was a subject of the investigation myself, that I may have done something wrong. But this is the reason I recused myself. I felt I was required to under the rules of the Department of Justice,” he said. 

Insisting that he had no knowledge about the alleged collusion between President Donald Trump’s campaign and Russia, he told the panel: "The suggestion that I participated in any collusion or that I was aware of any collusion with the Russian government to hurt this country, which I have served with honor for over 35 years, or to undermine the integrity of our democratic process, is an appalling and detestable lie.”

The hearing that spanned roughly two-and-a-half-hours, left the Democrats fuming over the attorney general’s refusal to answer questions.  Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-New Mexico) accused Sessions of impeding the Senate’s investigations, the Los Angeles Times reported.