In light of former FBI Director James Comey’s testimony last week, Sessions is expected to get many questions from lawmakers about his contacts with Russian officials during the 2016 election campaign.
Sessions’ role in the ongoing probe into Trump campaign’s alleged communications with Russian Federation has come under increased scrutiny since the testimony of former FBI Director James Comey this week.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions speaks about organized gang violence at the Department of Justice, on April 18, 2017.
Justice Department spokeswoman Sarah Isgur Flores said Sessions requested that the committee hearing be public.
Kamala Harris, D-Calif., asked Comey a series of questions about Sessions’ involvement in the Russian Federation investigation during the two weeks between Trump expressing his “hope” that Comey could let go of the probe into former national security adviser Michael Flynn and Sessions’ recusal from inquiries related to the election.
While several committee members, including Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Angus King, an independent from Maine, had voiced support for a public hearing, other members had complained that doing so would inevitably lead to a brick wall, where Sessions would say he couldn’t discuss certain matters in public.
The Justice Department has said that while Mr Sessions was there for a speech by Mr Trump, there were no meetings or private encounters.
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein will testify before the Appropriations subcommittee in place of Sessions. But on Saturday, after senators made clear they would zero in on Sessions’s connections to Russia, Sessions shifted his plan, opting to address the Senate Intelligence Committee.
And in a stunning moment of inside-the-Beltway intrigue, Comey dropped a bombshell about why he and other top Federal Bureau of Investigation officials concluded that the attorney general was going to recuse himself from the probe.
“The Senate intelligence committee is the most appropriate forum for such matters, as it has been conducting an investigation and has access to relevant, classified information”, he added.
Mr Comey declined to elaborate in an open setting. Preet Bharara told ABC’s “This Week” that Trump was trying to “cultivate some kind of relationship” with him when he called him twice before the inauguration to “shoot the breeze”.
Briefing congressional appropriators on the Justice Department’s budget is a critical part of the attorney general’s job.
Sessions failed to include information about his meetings with Kislyak during his confirmation process.
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.
Comey delivered a scathing testimony Thursday at the highly anticipated Senate hearing, saying Trump sought to derail a probe into onetime national security advisor Michael Flynn.