Sessions will testify in open hearing Tuesday before Senate Intelligence Committee

Posted June 13, 2017

Mr. Sessions landed in hot water in March, after the Washington Post revealed he met twice previous year with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak - despite telling the Senate during his January confirmation hearing that he "did not have communications with the Russians".

It could be another intriguing day of testimony on Capitol Hill when U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions goes before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday afternoon, as Sessions is expected to face questions about his role in the firing of FBI Director James Comey, and the extent of any contacts that the former U.S. Senator had with Russian officials during the 2016 campaign. "He believes it is important for the American people to hear the truth directly from him and looks forward to answering the committee's questions tomorrow", said the Justice Department's Sarah Isgur Flores, in a statement relayed by NPR's Carrie Johnson.

To return to my opening question with another rhetorical question, is it even possible to be too cynical about anything in Donald Trump's orbit?

"It's an honor to be able to serve you", Sessions said.

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Of special interest will be Comey's assertion that he told Sessions after the meeting that he never again wanted to be left alone with the president. While the hearing will be held in public, there has been no time scheduled - at least as of Monday morning - for Sessions to stick around and testify in a closed hearing to discuss classified matters, according to those aides, who were not authorized to speak publicly on the matter. Comey said in testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee last week.

The White House has already acknowledged that Sessions will not hesitate to invoke executive privilege, which may limit knowledge-sharing quite a bit.

People familiar with Comey's testimony in a second, closed hearing on Thursday, said the former director told the intelligence committee that Sessions may have had a third, undisclosed interaction with Russia's ambassador to the United States, Sergey Kislyak.

After Mr. Sessions recused himself, he still signed off on Mr. Comey's firing, which Mr. Trump admitted in an NBC interview was motivated at least in part by "this Russian Federation thing".

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Jeff Sessions was previously scheduled to testify before a joint appropriation subcommittee on Tuesday but he will now appear before the Intelligence Committee instead.

While the simple fact of Sessions taking those meetings may not mean anything in itself, Sessions raised suspicions about the true goal go his Russian contacts when he denied under oath at his January confirmation hearing that he had any "communications with the Russians" during the campaign. The next day, Sessions recused himself from the Russian Federation investigation and said it would be overseen by his deputy attorney general, who last month appointed a special counsel to handle the probe. Trump has denied that he said that.

It will be the first sworn public testimony from Sessions, a longtime former senator, since he was nominated by President Donald Trump and confirmed as the nation's top law enforcement officer in February.

"I don't understand why the president just doesn't clear this matter up once and for all", said Sen.

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Ian Prior, a Justice Department spokesman, disputed that account and said that Sessions replied to Comey and said he "wanted to ensure that he and his Federal Bureau of Investigation staff were following proper communications protocol with the White House". He will also likely be asked if he knows of any ties between anyone in Trump's campaign who may have coordinated with the Russians, and if there is any suggestion of obstruction of justice by the president following the firing of national security adviser Michael Flynn.