Published: Tue, June 13, 2017
Culture | By Kelly Harrison

Attorney General Jeff Sessions To Testify In Public Tuesday

"And so we were convinced - and, in fact, I think we had already heard that the career people were recommending that he recuse himself - that he was not going to be in contact with Russia-related matters much longer, and that turned out to be the case".

United States Attorney General Jeff Sessions, a central figure in the investigation into connections between the Donald Trump presidential campaign and Russian Federation, will tell his side of the story in open, public testimony to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence this week - and even though the U.S. Justice Department claims that Sessions himself requested that his testimony be public rather than behind close doors like many Intelligence Committee hearings, according to a report on Monday, Sessions may remain tight-lipped anyway.

The Justice Department said Monday that Sessions requested Tuesday's committee hearing be open because he "believes it is important for the American people to hear the truth directly from him".

To return to my opening question with another rhetorical question, is it even possible to be too cynical about anything in Donald Trump's orbit?

What did happen at the Mayflower Hotel in 2016 when you were in the same room as Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak?

The White House on Monday suggested Sessions could invoke executive privilege during his testimony depending on "the scope of the questions".

After that failure to disclose came to light, Sessions defended himself and sent supplemental testimony to the Senate.

It comes as political intrigue pulses through the U.S. capital following explosive testimony by Comey before the same panel last week, and as Trump has expressed frustrations with Sessions, one of his earliest high-profile campaign backers. The Justice Department has denied that, saying Sessions stressed to Comey the need to be careful about following appropriate policies. Republicans have pressed Trump to say whether he has tapes of private conversations with Comey and provide them to Congress if he does - or possibly face a subpoena.

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Sessions also is likely to face questions about Comey's cryptic assertion that the FBI knew of a "problematic" reason that Sessions should not oversee the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. During his own testimony last week, Comey said that he understood Trump's request "to be a directive".

Attorney General Jeff Sessions' testimony to the Senate Intelligence committee Tuesday will be open to the public.

Sessions may be under a further cloud after Comey suggested the attorney general may have failed to take appropriate steps to protect the Federal Bureau of Investigation chief. He said under oath at his January confirmation hearing that he had not met with Russians during the campaign.

Comey described the Oval Office meeting, before his one-on-one with Trump, as "a scheduled counterterrorism briefing".

Sessions is likely to be questioned over the truthfulness of his answers in January.A spokesman for the Justice Department said after media reports emerged in March of the meetings that Sessions had answered honestly because the encounters were part of his job as a senator and not as a surrogate of the Trump campaign. That prompted at least some members of the committee to push for a closed hearing, or at least some allotted time to meet with Sessions privately after the public forum, aides said.

Because Sessions claimed to have recused himself from any involvement in the Russian Federation probe, merely discussing Comey's firing with Trump would appear to make a mockery of his "recusal".

A White House official downplayed Ruddy's comments, saying "Chris speaks for himself". Did he do anything after being asked by Comey?

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