General Jeff Sessions will face questions on Tuesday about his dealings
with Russian officials and whether he intentionally misled Congress as a
Senate panel investigates alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S.
testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee, scheduled to start
at 2:30 p.m. ET, keeps the political spotlight on the Russia issue,
sidelining President Donald Trump’s domestic agenda.
former Republican U.S. senator, an early supporter of Trump’s
presidential campaign, will likely have to explain why he told lawmakers
in January that he had no dealings with Russian officials last year.
staffers have since acknowledged that he met twice with Russian
Ambassador Sergei Kislyak. They say he did not mislead Congress because
the encounters were part of his job as a senator, not as a surrogate of
the Trump campaign.
But the revelations forced Sessions to recuse himself from the Russia investigation in March.
Sessions is likely to be asked whether he
played a role in Trump’s decision to fire FBI Director James Comey last
month – a move that caused Trump’s critics to charge that the president
was trying to interfere with a criminal investigation.
attorney general will also face questions about whether he met Kislyak
on a third occasion. Several media outlets have reported that Comey told
the Intelligence Committee in closed session last week that the FBI was
examining whether Sessions met with Kislyak at a Washington hotel last
year. The Justice Department has denied such a meeting occurred.
is not clear whether Sessions plans to answer all the questions or if
he will invoke executive privilege to avoid disclosing private
conversations with the president.
members of the Intelligence Committee, frustrated by the tight-lipped
performance of other administration officials at an open hearing last
week, said they were not going to allow Sessions to follow suit.
“That’s just not going to be acceptable,” said Senator Ron Wyden, a Democrat on the committee.
of those administration officials, Admiral Michael Rogers, head of the
National Security Agency, met again with members of the Intelligence
Committee in a closed-door session on Monday evening, according to the
Amid the political firestorm that followed
Comey’s dismissal, the Justice Department last month appointed a special
counsel to oversee the probe into Russian election interference and any
collusion by Trump aides.
has been publicly dismissive of the Russia investigation for months. A
Trump confidant, Chris Ruddy, told “PBS NewsHour” on Monday the
president was weighing whether to fire the special counsel, former FBI
Director Robert Mueller. Such a move would be bound to unleash a storm
of fresh charges that Trump is seeking to hinder the Russia
Newt Gingrich, a
former Republican House of Representatives Speaker and Trump ally who
initially praised the choice of Mueller, complained this week that
Mueller had hired too many Democrats. Gingrich told CBS “This Morning”
that Trump called him on Monday night to discuss Mueller but he did not
think the president was considering firing him.
Intelligence Committee is one of several congressional panels looking
into the Russia issue, alongside Mueller’s probe. Russia has denied
interfering in the U.S. election. The White House has denied any
collusion with Moscow.