AG Sessions will testify in open hearing before Senate Intelligence Committee

AG Sessions will testify in open hearing before Senate Intelligence Committee

In a June 10 letter seen by news agencies, Sessions said he made his decision to appear before the Senate Intelligence Committee in light of testimony by former FBI Director James Comey to the same panel on June 8.

The Justice Department said Monday that Sessions requested Tuesday's committee hearing be open because he "believes it is important for the American people to hear the truth directly from him".

A number of members are concerned Sessions may be attempting to avoid testifying in public by scrapping his previously scheduled Senate and House Appropriations appearances this week, where he was expected to be grilled on issues related to the federal investigation into Russia's efforts to influence the USA election, several sources say. Sen.

President Donald Trump's firing of Comey, whose FBI was investigating Russian meddling, led to an outcry among lawmakers. Instead, he will send Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to those hearings to discuss budget matters, Sessions wrote in letters to the chairmen of the subcommittees.

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

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

Several Republican lawmakers also criticized Comey for disclosing memos he had written in the aftermath of his private conversations with Trump, calling that action "inappropriate".

Sessions also is likely to face questions about Comey's cryptic assertion that the FBI knew of a "problematic" reason that Sessions should not oversee the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

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".

Sessions is expected to be asked tomorrow if there is a recording system in the White House - Trump having tweeted after sacking Comey that he'd better hope there are no tapes of his conversations with Trump before Comey thinks about talking publicly about his sacking.

When CNN asked what was wrong with Sessions going before the same committee that heard Comey's testimony, Coons acknowledged that maybe that was a "good first step", but added that "the Judiciary Committee has the oversight responsibility for the Department of Justice".

As for the timing of Sessions' recusal, Comey said the FBI expected the attorney general to take himself out of the matters under investigation weeks before he actually did.

As news of his testimony broke, Sessions attended a Cabinet meeting with Trump at the White House.

It wasn't specified whether he would testify in an open or closed setting.

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