U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a letter on Saturday that he will appear before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday to address matters former FBI Director James Comey brought up this week in testimony to the same panel.
Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., said "there's a real question of the propriety" of Sessions' involvement in Comey's dismissal, because Sessions had stepped aside from the federal investigation into contacts between Russian Federation and the Trump campaign.
Sessions had told lawmakers at his confirmation hearing in January that he hadn't met with Russians during the campaign.
Sessions has been dogged by questions about possible additional encounters with the ambassador, Sergey Kislyak. Senate Democrats have raised questions about whether the men met at an April 2016 foreign policy event at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington.
On Comey's accusations that Trump pressed him to drop the FBI investigation of his former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, Bharara said "no one knows right now whether there is a provable case of obstruction" of justice.
USA Today reports that Sessions' testimony is expected to be behind closed doors and to target the February 14 meeting in the oval office in which, according to former FBI Director James Comey, Sessions was asked to step out of the room to leave Comey and the president alone.
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In testimony to the Senate panel on Thursday, Mr. Comey accused President Donald Trump of firing him to try to undermine the FBI's investigation of possible collusion by people in Trump's campaign with Russia's alleged efforts to influence the 2016 presidential election. "I have written two letters to Sen".
Shelby chairs the Senate appropriations subcommittee. But on Saturday, after senators made clear they would zero in on Sessions's connections to Russia, Sessions shifted his plan, opting to address the Senate Intelligence Committee.
Members of the intelligence committee are in the middle of an investigation and have "access to relevant, classified information", Sessions said. He said in the letter he will send a deputy to that hearing and instead appear before the intelligence committee. The fact that Sessions would delegate that task showed the Russian Federation investigation was distracting him from his core duties.
The Washington Post and USA Today report that Sessions' appearance is expected to be closed.
What was it about the attorney general's interactions with the Russians or his behavior with regard to the investigation that would have led the entire leadership of the FBI to make this decision?
"These are dark times if the attorney general of the United States is unwilling to answer questions under oath in an open session about his conduct or defend this administration's budget", Schatz said in a statement.