Jeff Sessions' testimony to Congress Tuesday to be open to public

13 June, 2017, 11:00 | Author: Roberto Lindsey
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Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein, a member of both the Senate intelligence and judiciary committees, has said Sessions should answer questions about his January testimony.Intelligence Committee members will also likely ask Sessions about a possible third undisclosed meeting with Kislyak that is now under investigation, according to media reports.Sessions, an early supporter of Trump's election campaign, will be the most senior government official to testify to the committee on the Russian Federation issue, which has dogged the Republican president's early months in office.Critics charged that by firing Comey on May 9, Trump was trying to hinder the FBI's Russian Federation probe.

US Attorney General Jeff Sessions' public testimony before a Senate panel on Tuesday sets up another potentially dramatic hearing on possible ties between President Donald Trump's campaign and Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential race.

He recused himself in March from a federal investigation into contacts between Russian Federation and Donald Trump's presidential campaign after acknowledging that he had met twice past year with the ambassador.

During his confirmation hearing, Sessions said he "did not have communications with the Russians" during the campaign.

The attorney general may also face questions on that.

Sessions later amended his statement to say he did meet with Kislyak "a couple" of times, and in tomorrow's testimony he is expected to say that he mistakenly didn't think of those meetings when he first answered the question posed to him before the Senate. 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.

Following a subsequent closed-door session between Mr. Comey and the Senators, CNN reported he had told lawmakers there may have been a third discussion between Mr. Session and Mr. Kislyak.

Can you commit to discuss with the committee in a closed session the reasons for your recusal from the Russian Federation investigation?

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He is expected to invoke executive privilege over at least some conversations with President Donald Trump, an ABC reporter said. "To get into a hypothetical at this point would be premature". "We're aware of it and we'll go from there", he said. During his own testimony last week, Comey said that he understood Trump's request "to be a directive".

At the conclusion of a February 14 meeting, Comey testified, Trump urged everyone else but Comey to leave the Oval Office, including Sessions.

When it was first scheduled, the hearing was part of the annual budget appropriations process.

It comes as political intrigue pulses through the USA capital following explosive testimony by Comey before the same panel last week, and as Trump has expressed frustrations with Sessions, one of his earliest high-profile campaign backers. "We also 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", Comey said. This gets at the issue of the Sessions recusal from the Russian Federation investigation writ large.

Spokesman Spicer declined to say then that Sessions enjoyed Trump's confidence, though spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said later in the week that the president had confidence "in all of his Cabinet". Feinstein said she was especially concerned after National Intelligence Director Dan Coats and National Security Agency Director Michael Rogers refused to answer questions from the intelligence committee about possible undue influence by Trump.

Sessions will also be prepared to describe the process of filling out his SF-86 security clearance form in 2016 - specifically, the advice he received from Federal Bureau of Investigation personnel that he didn't need to include all of the meetings he had with foreign officials in his capacity as a sitting senator, the source said.

But behind the scenes, there was significant pushback from Democrats - including Senate Intelligence Committee vice chairman Mark Warner - who raised objections with Senate Intelligence Chairman Richard Burr that Sessions may be trying to skirt public scrutiny.

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