Sessions to testify before Senate intelligence panel

Sessions to testify before Senate intelligence panel

Sessions to testify before Senate intelligence panel

Attorney General Jeff Sessions, whose contacts with Russia's ambassador to the USA during the presidential campaign have sparked questions, agreed Saturday to appear before the Senate intelligence committee as it investigates alleged Russian meddling in the election. But in letters to the chairmen of those panels, Sessions says he has instead accepted an invitation to testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee.

The intelligence panel "is the most appropriate forum for such matters, as it has been conducting an investigation and has access to relevant, classified information", he added.

Sessions said he would send Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to the appropriations subcommittees in his stead to discuss budget matters. Shelby chairs the Senate appropriations subcommittee. He would likely face questions from senators not only about meetings with Kislyak and subsequent recusal from the federal Russian Federation probe, but also about his involvement with the President's firing of Comey last month considering Sessions' recusal from the Russian Federation investigation, which Comey had been leading.

The Justice Department has said that while Sessions was there, for a speech by Trump, there were no meetings or private encounters.

Sessions came off particularly badly in last Thursday's testimony by fired FBI Director James Comey, leading Dan Rather to label him a "marked man".

Although Sessions, a 70-year-old from the southern state of Alabama who served 20 years in the Senate, backed Trump's campaign, he was also one of the first administration officials to fly into turbulence.

Sessions, among the earliest high-profile backers of Trump's election campaign, failed to disclose meetings with Russian officials during his January confirmation hearing.

Sessions can also expect to be asked about his role in Comey's May 9 firing. On Thursday, Comey said in his testimony that Sessions had a third meeting with Kislyak over the course of previous year.

Sessions recused himself from the investigation into Russian interference in the election and the possibility of collusion between the Russians and President Trump's campaign after it was revealed that he met twice previous year with the Russian ambassador to the United States.

Comey testified that Trump asked him in that meeting to close an investigation into former national security adviser Michael Flynn.

Mr Comey said the President had privately told him in the Oval Office: "I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go".

During his opening statement to Congress, Mr Comey said that his leadership team at the Federal Bureau of Investigation agreed not to share the details of his private discussion with Mr Sessions.

President Donald Trump later said he never sought to impede the inquiry, and accused Mr Comey of saying some things that "just weren't true".

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