Published: Tue, June 13, 2017
Worldwide | By Gretchen Simon

Sessions wants his testimony open to the public


Another day of White House drama before a Senate panel: Attorney General Jeff Sessions' testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday will be open to the public, reports Politico.

Until the panel chairman's statement on Monday, it had been unclear whether Sessions would testify in an open or closed setting.

Sessions' interactions with Russian officials during U.S. President Donald Trump's presidential campaign have come under scrutiny by the committee and federal investigators.

In addition to the Senate Intelligence Committee's investigation into Russia's role in USA 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.

Members of both the Senate and House intelligence committees have insisted since that hearing that it is important they verify Comey's testimony.

Comey told lawmakers that he knew details that made Attorney General Sessions's involvement in the bureau's probe "problematic".

Critics charged that by firing Comey on May 9 Trump was trying to hinder the FBI's Russian Federation probe and the ex-FBI chief added fuel to that accusation with his testimony last week.

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

That remark came after revelations emerged that Sessions had met with Russia's ambassador to the USA last year, despite testifying under oath during a confirmation hearing that he "did not have communications with the Russians". At that meeting, a day after Flynn was sacked, Comey said the president suggested that he ease up on the inquiry into his former national security adviser.

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The military says that around 140 members of the Maute group have been killed in the ongoing fighting, as well as 21 civilians. With Marawi City under siege, President Rodrigo Duterte has declared Martial Law in the region.

The U.S. Secret Service says it doesn't have any recordings or transcripts of any tapes recorded within President Donald Trump's White House.

The hearing in the Hart Senate Office Building is scheduled to start at 2:30 p.m. ET Tuesday.

Comey told the intelligence committee in a closed session that Sessions may have had a third, undisclosed interaction with Russia's ambassador to the USA, according to people familiar with the briefing. He recused himself from the investigation on March 2, just after it was reported that he met at least twice past year with Russia's ambassador, Sergey Kislyak.

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.

According to Comey's testimony: "The last person to leave was Jared Kushner, who also stood by my chair and exchanged pleasantries with me". 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.

Comey later told Sessions he didn't want to be alone with the president.

The Senate confirmed Sessions to be attorney general on February 8, and he was sworn in the next day. "Sessions actually offered to resign, even though his friends say he doesn't want to leave, but Trump has refused to accept that resignation".

The Justice Department has denied that, saying Sessions stressed to Comey the need to be careful about following appropriate policies. "It's hard to read Comey's statement as anything other than something related to Sessions' role with the campaign and Russian Federation", he told me.

The second key line of questioning senators should pursue, Anders said, is about how Sessions perceives the scope of his own recusal from the Russian Federation investigation.

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