Attorney General Sessions' Testimony To Senate Panel Will Be Public

Attorney General Sessions' Testimony To Senate Panel Will Be Public

Attorney General Jeff Sessions will publicly testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday, but while he will field many questions about Russia's interference in the 2016 election, he may not answer all of them.

The public hearing was announced Monday by Intelligence Chairman Richard M. Burr and Vice Chairman Mark Warner.

When Comey testified in an open session before the same committee last Tuesday, June 9, he told the Senators that the FBI had expected Sessions - who in the administration chain of command was Comey's direct boss - to recuse himself from the Russian Federation investigation.

Democrats plan to ask about his contacts during the 2016 campaign with the Russian ambassador to the United States, Sergey Kislyak, which the attorney general failed to disclose fully during his confirmation hearing.

Since then, lawmakers have raised questions about a possible third meeting at a Washington hotel, though the Justice Department has said that did not happen. The attorney general may also face questions on this.A Justice Department spokeswoman said Sessions requested the open setting because "he believes it is important for the American people to hear the truth directly from him."Media reports last week said Sessions offered to resign because of tensions with Trump over his decision to recuse himself from the FBI's Russian Federation probe".

But intelligence committee members at first were unaware of a planned hearing. And if he disagrees with Comey and explains in a public hearing the reasons for his recusal, it will likely lead to more questions about why he didn't also recuse himself from the firing of Comey.

But Sessions, who recommended in a signed memo that Comey be fired, may end up claiming executive privilege as a means of limiting the breadth of his testimony.

"To get to a hypothetical at this point would be premature", he added.

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He did not explicitly endorse Sessions' appearance, saying in response to a question, "We're aware of it, and we'll go from there". During his own testimony last week, Comey said that he understood Trump's request "to be a directive".

Comey said Trump told Sessions and other administration officials to leave the room before Trump asked him in February to drop a probe into former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn's contacts with Russian Federation.

But they hope the hearing offers a chance to at least get Sessions on the record as either answering or dodging answers about pivotal events related to Comey and the FBI's investigation.

Sessions had been scheduled to appear Tuesday before the Senate Appropriations Committee to review funding for the Justice Department, which he heads.

The abrupt schedule change follows blockbuster testimony last week from former FBI Director James B. Comey.

Why did you recuse yourself from the Russian Federation investigation - and what was Comey alluding to when he said there were facts that "would make [your] continued engagement in a Russia-related investigation problematic?" And, if Comey was sacked because of the burden of the Russian Federation investigation - as the president has now suggested - was it appropriate for Sessions to be involved in that decision, given his recusal?

"It depends on the scope of the questions", White House press secretary Sean Spicer said, but wouldn't elaborate. The Department of Justice did not deny Mr. Sessions and Mr. Kislyak crossed paths that day, but told CNN Mr. Sessions did not have any "private" talks with the ambassador at the Mayflower.

Lawmakers, including Al Franken of Minnesota and Patrick Leahy of Vermont, have asked the FBI to investigate and to determine if Sessions committed perjury when he denied having had meetings with Russians.

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