In addition to the Senate Intelligence Committee’s investigation into Russia’s role in US politics, special counsel Robert Mueller is leading an independent inquiry into Russia’s meddling and potential links between Russians and the Trump campaign, after being appointed by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein last month.
Sessions’ hearing comes less than a week after fired FBI Director James Comey testified before the same committee.
In a closed-door session with senators following his public hearing last Thursday, Comey reportedly disclosed that Sessions met with Kislyak a third time, according to CNN, which he also did not mention during his confirmation hearing. “The only two people who know what happened in those meetings are the president and James Comey“, Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel told Fox.
Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, said he was troubled that Sessions wouldn’t appear before the appropriations panel and that the apparent reason was “he does not want to discuss the scope of his recusal from the investigation regarding the 2016 presidential campaign as well as his significant interactions with Russian officials”.
Comey also said Trump had defamed him and the Federal Bureau of Investigation and that he took meticulous notes of their private meetings because he did not trust the Republican president to tell the truth about them.
The Justice Department said Sessions requested that the hearing, which will begin at 2:30 p.m. (1830GMT), be public.
Comey testified that the FBI investigation into possible collusion between Russian Federation and the Trump campaign did not extend to Trump himself during the time Comey was leading the FBI.
Pressure mounted at the start of the week following reports that Sessions offered his resignation to Trump because the President blamed Sessions for exacerbating his Russian Federation problems by recusing himself from the probe.
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.
Sessions faces questions about his contacts with Russia’s ambassador to the US during the presidential campaign. The White House has denied any collusion with Russian Federation.
The argument from Trump and his allies is supposed to be that the president didn’t say what Comey claims, but the argument from Donald Trump Jr.is that the president did make those comments, his father’s denials notwithstanding, though they shouldn’t be seen as controversial. “Totally illegal? Very ‘cowardly”, he tweeted Sunday.
At a White House press conference last month, a reporter asked Donald Trump, “Did you at any time urge former FBI Director James Comey in any way, shape, or form to close or to back down the investigation into Michael Flynn?“.
And, if Sessions was aware of the President’s rationale, Reed said he expects that senators will ask why he did not remove himself from discussions about Comey. Edward M. Kennedy, said Sessions is in a “tough spot” because he’ll be expected to channel Trump’s bombastic lines of defense while also defusing the controversy. Only a few people at Justice in the White House should be in touch with each other.
Leahy and Al Franken have raised questions about whether Sessions testified falsely to them earlier this year about his Russian Federation connections.