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Sessions wants his testimony open to public

13 June 2017

Attorney General Jeff Sessions will testify at a public hearing of the Senate intelligence committee Tuesday afternoon, the committee said in a statement. So Sessions probably could invoke it for any questions that brush up against national security issues. And if he disagrees with Comey and explains in a public hearing the reasons for his recusal, it will likely lead to more questions about why he didn't also recuse himself from the firing of Comey.

"If, as the president said, I was sacked because of the Russian Federation investigation, why was the attorney general involved in that chain?"

A day before Comey appeared before the Senate intelligence panel, National Security Agency Director Mike Rogers and Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, also members of Trump's Cabinet, took the stand.

"As NPR's Carrie Johnson recently reported on All Things Considered: "[Sources] are telling me Trump has been very angry with Jeff Sessions for recusing himself in the Russian Federation investigation to begin with, lots of profane conversations and yelling. Reed was on "Fox News Sunday".

But they hope the hearing offers a chance to at least get Sessions on the record as either answering or dodging answers about pivotal events related to Comey and the FBI's investigation.

MARTIN: So what's the attorney general likely to say?

Initially, Sessions expected to testify in a closed-door session, said two sources familiar with the attorney general's thinking.

Sessions, who had agreed to testify this week before the Senate and House appropriations subcommittees about the Justice Department budget, wrote the chairmen of the committees Saturday and said he was sending his deputy to testify instead.

Late Monday morning, Sen.


Why this is a big deal: Sessions is a Trump ally, and he appears to be caught between the president and his promise to run the Justice Department in an apolitical way.

If Sessions chooses to opt out of answering certain questions, legal experts say the committee can hold him in contempt - but that could elongate the testimony and could potentially take months. In fact, his own survival as attorney general, which has recently been a subject of much debate, could hinge on his performance before the Senate Intelligence Committee.

In his testimony, Comey said he had asked Sessions not to leave him alone with Trump following meetings where he said Trump had asked Comey for his loyalty.

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.

"I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go", Comey quoted Trump as saying. He is a good guy.

Comey accused the Republican president of trying to get him to drop the investigation of former national security adviser Michael Flynn and fired him to undermine the Russian Federation probe. Or does his appearance represent a White House-orchestrated counter attack following the damaging Comey testimony? "I kind of got - his body language gave me the sense like, 'What am I going to do?'". The former Federal Bureau of Investigation director hinted in the committee's closed session that there may have been a third, unreported meeting between Sessions and Kislyak, people familiar with the briefing said. Trump's personal lawyer also challenged Comey's account, saying the president never asked for the investigation to be dropped.

Elizabeth Warren called for Sessions to be booted.

Sessions recused himself from that inquiry in March after media reports that he had been in two previously undisclosed meetings past year with Russian ambassador Sergei Kislyak. The president has also criticized the Justice Department's failed efforts to defend his travel ban in federal court. However, questions dealing with the Trump campaign's activities prior to the inauguration could be fair game, since at that point, neither Sessions nor Trump were part of the executive branch.