Attorney General Jeff Sessions to testify in public on Tuesday

Lawrence Kim
June 13, 2017

Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced Monday he wants his testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee to be public.

Sessions recused himself from the Russia investigation in March after it was revealed he did not disclose two meetings he had with the Russian ambassador during the course of the Trump campaign. He had told lawmakers at his January confirmation hearing that he had not met with Russians during the campaign.

A Justice Department official told CNN on Sunday that department officials expected the hearing would be closed but said the final decision was up to the Senate committee.

But intelligence committee members at first were unaware of a planned hearing.

The hearing will bring sharp questioning for Sessions and likely some uncomfortable moments from the Trump administration.

New questions about Sessions were raised last week, after former FBI Director James Comey said that he and other leaders at the agency had expected Sessions to recuse himself weeks before he did - and that the reasons behind that thinking are classified.

There is a way that Sessions could skirt around having to directly answer these questions, however.

Comey himself had a riveting appearance before the same Senate panel last week, with some key moments centered on Sessions.

The Justice Department ultimately agreed to a Tuesday public hearing in an attempt to show there's nothing to hide and nothing controversial about Sessions' interactions with Russian officials, officials said.

Pressure mounted at the start of the week following reports that Sessions offered his resignation to Trump because the President blamed Sessions for exacerbating his Russian Federation problems by recusing himself from the probe.

Briefing congressional appropriators on the Justice Department's budget is a critical part of the attorney general's job.

The former Federal Bureau of Investigation director also testified that he and the agency had believed Sessions was "inevitably going to recuse" for reasons he said he could not elaborate on. Comey declined to elaborate in an open setting. Jack Reed, D-R.I., said "there's a real question of the propriety" of Sessions' involvement in Comey's dismissal, because Sessions had stepped aside from the federal investigation into contacts between Russian Federation and the Trump campaign.

On Comey's accusations that Trump pressed him to drop the FBI investigation of his former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, Bharara said "no one knows right now whether there is a provable case of obstruction" of justice.

Though the Justice Department maintains that it has fully disclosed the extent of Sessions' foreign contacts a year ago, lawmakers have continued to press him for answers about an April 2016 event at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, where both Sessions and Kislyak attended a foreign policy speech by Trump. Sessions, a former senator, later issued a clarification saying he had met with the ambassador.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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