Jeff Sessions' testimony to Congress Tuesday to be open to public

Attorney General Jeff Sessions testifies about the Russia probe at an opening hearing conducted by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence on Tuesday

Attorney General Jeff Sessions testifies about the Russia probe at an opening hearing conducted by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence on Tuesday

Sessions' testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee, scheduled to start at 2:30 p.m. (1830 GMT), keeps the political spotlight on the Russian Federation issue, sidelining President Donald Trump's domestic agenda.

Sessions will likely be asked whether he played a role in Trump's surprise decision to fire FBI Director James Comey last month - a move that caused Trump's critics to charge that he was trying to interfere with a criminal investigation.

He recused himself from the federal probe in March after acknowledging that he met twice a year ago with the Russian ambassador to the United States.

But Sessions will be able to corroborate, or not, details of Comey's version of events before and after the encounter, during which, Comey says, Trump all but directed him to back off an investigation into retired Army Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, who until hours earlier had been Trump's national security adviser.

Members of the committee said they would ask Sessions to recount the meeting between Trump and Comey on February 14 at the Oval Office, where according to Comey, Trump pressured him to drop the FBI investigation into Flynn, the New York Times reported.

Sessions stepped aside in March from the federal investigation into contacts between Russia and the campaign after acknowledging that he had met twice previous year with the Russian ambassador to the U.S. The former senator from Alabama told lawmakers at his January confirmation hearing that he had not met with Russians during the campaign.

Fellow Republicans, meanwhile, pressed Trump to come clean about whether he has tapes of private conversations with fired FBI Director James Comey and provide them to Congress if he does - or possibly face a subpoena.

Senator Patrick Leahy, the Senate appropriations committee's top Democrat and a member of the Senate judiciary committee, tartly reminded Sessions that both oversee his department. "And you may remember I got sent away from the Senate for that and got shut down and not allowed to speak again until after the vote", the MA senator recalled to David Axelrod on "The Axe Files", a podcast from the University of Chicago Institute of Politics and CNN.

Jeff Sessions is a politician and lawyer, who is now the 84th Attorney General of the United States.

Sessions is likely to be questioned over the truthfulness of his answers in January.

Sessions' appearance before the intelligence committee is an indication of just how much the Russian Federation investigation has shaded his tenure. Recent news reports have said Sessions offered to resign just weeks ago, saying he needed to be given "the freedom" to do his job.

On Monday, in a odd photo op, members of Trump's Cabinet lavished praise on the President, who has struggled to extricate himself from the Russian Federation cloud over his White House. "Totally illegal? Very 'cowardly", he tweeted Sunday.

High-profile supporters of President Donald Trump are turning on special counsel Robert Mueller, the man charged with investigating Russian interference in the USA election and possible collusion with Trump's campaign.

Can you commit to discuss with the committee in a closed session the reasons for your recusal from the Russian Federation investigation? "We also were aware of facts that I can't discuss in an opening setting that would make his continued engagement in a Russia-related investigation problematic", Comey said.

Sessions recused himself from the Russian Federation investigation weeks later.

The Fox News senior judicial analyst speculated that perhaps the White House instructed Sessions to testify. His recusal announcement came days after it was revealed that he met with the Russian ambassador to the USA on at least two occasions in 2016.

Ian Prior, a Justice Department spokesman, disputed that account and said that Sessions replied to Comey and said he "wanted to ensure that he and his Federal Bureau of Investigation staff were following proper communications protocol with the White House".

In that regard, Sessions confirmed many aspects of what Comey had to say. 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.

"The peril to Sessions is a great deal more regarding those conversations with the Russians because he made sworn statements on his security clearances that appear to be contradictory to his actual record with contact with Russians", Toobin said.

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