Met with protests, Jeff Sessions tells students it's "time" to accept results of Russia probe

/ CBS/AP

Former Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Wednesday said it is time to move past special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation and "get on with the business of America." Sessions urged confidence in the system during a lecture at Amherst College, a private liberal arts school in western Massachusetts.

"The process was followed and a decision has now been rendered. I think it deserves respect," he said. "I think it's about time to accept the results and let's get on with the business of America."

President Donald Trump's former attorney general said that Mueller's investigation into Russian interference in U.S. elections was "carried out vigorously and with integrity."

"We have the greatest legal process in the world and the investigation was done in an honorable way," Sessions added.

He said Congress does have oversight power but he believes it is time to accept that Mueller declined to recommend criminal charges against the president. Some Democrats have called for impeachment proceedings against Trump in light of the report that left open whether the president broke the law.

The event in a campus chapel was hosted by Amherst College Republicans, and it was interrupted numerous times by demonstrators who stood up in the front rows and walked out soon after Sessions began speaking.

According to a student attending the event, the walkout was highly publicized throughout flyers on campus and on Facebook, and the students planned to do it five minutes into Sessions' speech. It was a silent walkout, and a vast majority of the spectators left. The Johnson Chapel, which seats over 500, was left almost completely empty as a result.

Those who walked out were heard chanting and marching long after their exit because of the acoustics of the building.

Members of Amherst's student-led group, Direct Action Coordinating Committee (DACC), which aims to promote student rights and social justice on campus, shouted at the attorney general, claiming Sessions waged "war on marginalized people." Their chants included "No justice, no peace, no racist police!"

Outside, the demonstrations didn't stop. Students gathered holding signs, including one that read: "Jeff Sessions is a crime against humanity."

Sessions said the protest was not nearly as disruptive as one he faced last week at a university in Minnesota.

Campus free speech was a theme of his talk, and the former U.S. senator from Alabama said the disrespect he faced as a young Republican at Huntingdon College in Alabama pales in comparison to what young conservatives face at colleges today.

"My impression is college Republicans nationwide are having a harder time today, facing more hostility, even bullying," he said, prompting laughter from some students.

One student asked Sessions afterward if he was contributing to polarization by suggesting in his remarks that the faculty at Amherst is overwhelmingly liberal. In response, Sessions said, ""It's hard to polarize a college that's pretty one-sided."

Sessions said he also stood by his decision to recuse himself from the Russia investigation. As somebody who had been involved in the Trump campaign and was a potential witness in the investigation, he said it did not make sense for him to remain in authority over the investigation.

"I have the greatest confidence in the integrity of our system," he said.

First published on April 25, 2019 / 7:13 AM

© 2019 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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