Trump's top lawyer to face questions on Russia, Comey

Sessions will testify in open hearing before Senate Intelligence Committee

Atty. Gen. Jeff Sessions to testify in public Tuesday amid Russia probe

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions will testify at a public hearing before the Senate intelligence committee on Tuesday, the committee chairman said in a statement.

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". Sessions recused himself from the Russia investigation over three months ago, after admitting he had not disclosed two meetings with the Russian ambassador in 2016.

New questions about Sessions emerged last week, after former FBI Director James Comey said he and other leaders at the agency had expected Sessions to recuse himself weeks before he did so - and that the reasons behind that thinking are classified.

Sessions said in his opening statement that he did not have a third meeting with Russian ambassador to the US Sergey Kislyak in the Mayflower hotel in Washington, despite reports that the Federal Bureau of Investigation had been investigating whether such a contact took place.

A lot of questions for Sessions cropped up after Comey's testimony last week.

It is one of several congressional panels that, along with a special counsel, is also investigating whether any Trump campaign officials colluded with the alleged Kremlin plot. Comey, according to sources, told senators that investigators overheard Russians discussing a third, private meeting Sessions had with Kislyak.

"I recused myself from any investigation into the campaigns for President, but I did not recuse myself from defending my honor against scurrilous and false allegations", Sessions said. An order from the president would not necessarily qualify, he said. He also asked why Sessions recused himself from oversight of the FBI's Russian Federation probe and wanted to know what role in played in Comey's dismissal.

Comey told the intelligence committee in a closed session that Sessions may have had a third, undisclosed interaction with Russia's ambassador to the United States, according to people familiar with the briefing.

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Sessions, who has recused himself from the Justice Department's Russia probe due to his own contacts previous year with Russian officials, had originally been thought to prefer a closed hearing to protect sensitive issues. AG Sessions is among those individuals asked to leave, and Comey noted his sense that "the Attorney General knew he should not be leaving", which is why he "linger [ed]".

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Hopefully he won't say that he's unable to answer questions in a public setting, like those before him.

But, in contrast to Comey's detailed account, it is unclear to what extent Sessions will be willing or able to answer the committee's questions, with the possibility that he might invoke executive privilege on some key matters.

America's top justice official will be the most senior government official to testify before the Senate committee, which is looking into allegations that Russian Federation had tried to meddle in last November's election. "The Attorney General was not silent; he responded to this comment by saying that the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Department of Justice needed to be careful about following appropriate policies regarding contacts with the White House". "He was asked during the hearing about communications between Russian Federation and the Trump campaign - not about meetings he took as a senator and a member of the Armed Services Committee", She said.

However, the Republican president has denied trying to impede the probe and said he would be willing to testify under oath about his interactions with Mr Comey.

President Donald Trump smiles during a Cabinet meeting, Monday, June 12, 2017, in the Cabinet Room of the White House in Washington.

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