Sessions stepped aside in March from the federal investigation into contacts between Russia and the campaign after acknowledging that he had met twice previous year with the Russian ambassador to the U.S. The former senator from Alabama told lawmakers at his January confirmation hearing that he had not met with Russians during the campaign. Comey wrote that Sessions did not reply to his request.
Comey also has said Sessions did not respond when he complained he didn’t “want to get time alone with the president again”. Typically, Senate Intelligence hearings on this topic have lasted about three hours.
Mr. Sessions also has had a strained relationship with Mr. Trump since he abruptly recused himself from Justice’s Russian Federation investigation.
The president denied trying to interfere with the investigation and said he would be willing to testify under oath about his interactions with Comey.
The letter did not say whether Sessions planned to give public testimony on Tuesday or to appear before the panel behind closed doors.
Sessions won’t be able to tell senators what went on in the meeting – the president had ordered him out of the Oval Office, along with other officials, before speaking privately with Comey, according to Comey’s testimony.
It has never been clear how Sessions could have recused himself from the Russian Federation investigation, but still involved himself in the decision to fire the FBI director, given that the decision to fire Comey was directly linked to the Russian Federation investigation. “We’ve obviously pressed the White House“, he said.
“In light of reports regarding Mr. Comey’s recent testimony before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, it is important that I have an opportunity to address these matters in the appropriate forum”, Sessions said in a statement.
Trump’s tendency to bring up the Russian Federation investigation, whether by insulting Comey or hinting at the existence of tapes, has created a headache for Republicans who want to focus on the party’s priorities such as healthcare and tax reform. But will the hearing be open or closed?
What was your involvement in the decision to fire James Comey?
Tuesday’s testimony is likely also to touch on allegations that Sessions himself met more often than he has acknowledged with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak.
According to Trump, Comey leaked “more [information] than anyone thought possible”.
A third participant in that meeting, White House senior adviser and Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner volunteered in March to testify before the intelligence committee.
Democrats said Sessions needs to resolve conflicting evidence about contacts with Russians and to explain if and why he recommended Comey’s firing by Trump, an action that could be a violation of his recusal. DOJ says the attorney general reminded Comey about the DOJ policy. “Totally illegal? Very ‘cowardly!’” Trump tweeted on Sunday.