Sessions' plans to testify surprised Senate intelligence panel members

Alvin Kelly
June 12, 2017

Senator James Lankford, Republican of Oklahoma, said on CBS's "Face the Nation" yesterday that the committee is still in a "final conversation" with Sessions but assumes the hearing would be public.

He described an episode during the inquiry into Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server.

Democratic Senate leader Chuck Schumer and fellow Democratic Senator Jack Reed questioned yesterday why Sessions was involved in Trump's May 9 dismissal of Comey after he had recused himself from investigations of whether Russian Federation tried to meddle in the 2016 presidential election with possible help from Trump associates. Attorney General Jeff Sessions will testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday, a surprise appearance that he announced over the weekend.

It was a sign of escalating fallout from riveting testimony from Comey last week of undue pressure from Trump, which drew an angry response from the president on Friday that Comey was lying.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions' letter on Saturday (June 10) offering to testify before the Senate intelligence committee on Tuesday (June 13) caught members of the panel by surprise, and senators are concerned he's trying to avoid testifying publicly, a source familiar with the situation says.

Several lawmakers are likely to also want to probe what Comey meant when he cryptically said during his hearing that he knew details about Sessions before his recusal that would have made his involvement in the Russian Federation probe "problematic".

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He said Trump reached out to him again after the inauguration but he refused to call back, shortly before he was sacked. Bharara was asked for his resignation, along with other US attorneys, but he refused and was sacked. "I believe the James Comey leaks will be far more prevalent than anyone ever thought possible. Totally illegal? Very 'cowardly!'", he wrote.

While many of Trump's Republican allies have found Comey's testimony credible, the president has called the man he fired a liar and a "leaker".

She described Comey's testimony as "candid" and "thorough" and said she would support a subpoena if needed. He contended that information was not classified or otherwise protected.

"There's a real question of the propriety of the Attorney-General participating in that in any way, shape or form", Reed said on Fox News Sunday. Comey alleges that Trump then privately asked him to drop a probe into former national security adviser Michael Flynn's contacts with Russian Federation.

Sessions in March removed himself from involvement in any probe into alleged Russian election meddling but maintained he did nothing wrong by failing to disclose that he met past year with Russia's ambassador. He removed himself after it emerged that he had met the Russian ambassador at least twice in 2016, although he had testified at his confirmation hearing that he had not had contact with Russians.

Sessions has been dogged by questions about possible additional encounters with the ambassador, Sergey Kislyak.

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