Sessions next to testify

Attorney General Jeff Sessions has agreed to testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday, days after fired FBI Director James Comey's testimony left lingering questions about the FBI investigation into Russian election meddling and any ties between Russia and the Trump campaign.

Whether that hearing will be public or closed is not known.

Sessions said he learned members of those subcommittees planned to ask him questions about the investigation into Russian election meddling, and decided the Senate Intelligence Committee was a more appropriate venue to field those questions.

Fellow Republicans pressed President Donald Trump on Sunday to come clean about whether he has tapes of private conversations with former FBI Director James Comey and provide them to Congress if he does - or possibly face a subpoena - as a Senate investigation into collusion with Russian Federation or obstruction of justice extended to a Trump Cabinet member.

"In light of reports regarding Comey's recent testimony before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, it is important that I have an opportunity to address these matters in the appropriate forum", Sessions wrote. But federal investigators have not confirmed the meeting happened, and the Justice Department has denied it occurred.

The attorney general cited his involvement in Trump's campaign for stepping away from the Russian Federation investigation in March.

Sessions clarified his plans for the coming week Saturday by announcing that he would not be able to keep a scheduled appearance before a different Senate committee to review spending plans for his department and associated agencies.

Comey additionally expressed that FBI leadership believed Sessions would "inevitably" recuse himself and that they "were aware of facts that I can't discuss in an open setting that would make his continued engagement in a Russia-related investigation problematic".

Mr Sessions has been dogged by questions about possible additional encounters with the ambassador, Sergey Kislyak.

Comey also has said Sessions did not respond when he complained he didn't "want to get time alone with the president again".

Sessions wrote to the two chairmen that he would testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday instead. 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.

As late as Sunday, the Justice Department signaled it expected Sessions testimony to be closed but said the final decision was up to the committee. He had told lawmakers at his January confirmation hearing that he had not met with Russians during the campaign.

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. Sessions refused. He may also be under a cloud of suspicion after Comey, in his devastating testimony, suggested the attorney general may have failed to take appropriate steps to protect the Federal Bureau of Investigation chief.

The Senate Appropriations Committee had called in the attorney general to testify about budget issues.

  • Salvatore Jensen