"So you were his superior and there were some fairly harsh things you said about Director Comey. You never thought it was appropriate to raise those concerns before he was actually terminated by the president?" Sen. Mark Warner, the ranking member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, asked Sessions.
"I did not do so," Sessions replied.
Sessions said Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein prepared a memo on Comey's performance that "noted some serious problems" with his performance.
"I agreed with those. In fact, Sen. Warner, we had talked about it even before I was confirmed and before he was confirmed. It's something that we both agreed to that a fresh start at the FBI was probably the best thing," Sessions said of his conversations with Rosenstein regarding replacing the FBI director before Comey was fired.
Sessions' hearing Tuesday made it clear he and Comey have two very different takes on the state of the FBI under Comey.
"By saying that the organization was in disarray, that it was poorly led, that the workforce had lost confidence in its leader. Those were lies, plain and simple," Comey said.
During Comey's testimony before the same Senate committee last week, he said he wasn't aware of those concerns. He recalled multiple conversations with President Donald Trump about his performance.
"He told me repeatedly that he had talked to lots of people about me, including our current attorney general, and had learned that I was doing a great job and that I was extremely well-liked by the FBI workforce," Comey told the committee.
Sessions told the committee that even though he recused himself from the Russia investigation, it was his duty to recommend Comey's firing to the president — even though Comey was leading the investigation.
"I do not believe that it is a sound position to say that if you're recused for a single case involving any one of the great agencies like DEA [Drug Enforcement Administration], or U.S. Marshals, or ATF [Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms] that are part of the Department of Justice, you can't make a decision about the leadership in that agency," Sessions told Sen. Susan Collins.