Attorney General Sessions' Testimony To Senate Panel Will Be Public

US attorney general to face questions on Comey firing, Russia

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions says he wants to set the record straight about his contacts with a Russian ambassador and other matters in light of new questions raised by testimony that fired FBI Director James Comey gave to a U.S. Senate committee last week.

Senators on that committee are expected to question Sessions about his meetings with Russians - a topic that has come under increased scrutiny amid investigations into Russian meddling in the USA presidential election. Sessions recused himself from the Justice Department's investigation into Russia's interference with the USA election, but continues to head one of the nation's top law enforcement and administration agencies.

In his confirmation hearing, Sessions testified that he did not have "communications" with the Russians during the presidential campaign.

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. There had been some question as to whether the hearing would be open to the public, but the Justice Department said Monday he requested it be so because he "believes it is important for the American people to hear the truth directly from him".

All of these topics will likely come under further scrutiny when the former Alabama senator faces the intelligence committee, one Republican member of the panel, Sen. 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.

Questions are swirling about possible additional encounters with the ambassador, Sergey Kislyak.

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"If, as the president said, I was sacked because of the Russian Federation investigation, why was the attorney general involved in that chain?"

So if Senators ask questions that could unearth illegal activity, Sessions should not be allowed to hide behind the curtain of executive privilege. "To get into a hypothetical at this point would be premature".

If he says he has no concerns, which we should fully expect, his answer will be replayed if and when more information comes out about who on the campaign knew what.

Comey himself had a riveting appearance before the same Senate panel last week, with some key moments centered on Sessions. Republicans have pressed Trump to say whether he has tapes of private conversations with Comey and provide them to Congress if he does - or possibly face a subpoena.

Though we may not learn a lot about the Russian Federation investigation, we will be able to better assess Sessions' survival by the end of the day.

Was he aware the president had made a decision to fire Comey before seeing that memo - and did he ask the DOJ to prepare that memo for him?

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In addition to the Senate Intelligence Committee's investigation into Russia's role in USA politics, special counsel Robert Mueller is leading an independent inquiry into Russia's meddling and potential links between Russians and the Trump campaign, after being appointed by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein last month.

Senator Patrick Leahy, the Senate appropriations committee's top Democrat and a member of the Senate judiciary committee, tartly reminded Sessions that both oversee his department.

According to Comey's testimony, Sessions was also aware of some one-on-one meetings between the Federal Bureau of Investigation director and the president, with Comey testifying that he on one occasion asked Sessions to ensure Comey was not left alone with the president.

After The Washington Post reported on Sessions' meetings with Kislyak in the summer of 2016, some Senators accused him of lying under oath during his confirmation hearing and called for his resignation.

In a separate development Monday, Trump held his first Cabinet meeting with everyone on board.

Democratic lawmakers are skeptical that Sessions will divulge any explosive details, especially since the attorney general could assert executive privilege regarding any questions about conversations with the president.

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