On Saturday, Attorney General Jeff Sessions told the Senate that he would agree to testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee about issues related to Russian interference in the 2016 election. Sessions’ testimony has been scheduled for Tuesday June 13th. Sessions had been scheduled to testify in front of other committees to discuss the Justice Department’s budget, but instead decided to testify on the Russian meddling and is sending Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to testify on the budgetary issues. Sessions himself said “in light of reports regarding Mr. Comey’s recent testimony before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, it is important that I have an opportunity to address these matters in the appropriate forum.”
Sessions has recused himself from the investigation into the 2016 election interference after it was revealed that he met at least twice with the Russian ambassador to the United States in 2016. At his testimony last week former FBI Director James Comey questioned why Sessions was involved in the decision-making to fire Comey if the reason was, as the President had stated, related to the Russia investigation. The testimony will offer Sessions an opportunity to defend himself against Comey’s questions and allegations that additional meetings beyond those disclosed took place between the Russians and the Attorney General.
Some members of the Senate Intelligence Committee were surprised that the Attorney General agreed to testify and some were worried that the Attorney General was trying to avoid testifying publicly. Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon sent a letter to Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Senator Richard Burr of North Carolina asking that Sessions testimony be open. Justice Department officials said they expected the hearing to be closed but that the final decision was up to the Senate committee.
If the testimony is open, Sessions’ testimony may provide some additional insight into the meetings between Sessions and Russian officials and the official reason for the firing of Comey. If the hearing remains closed, the testimony may create more questions than answers as the public will be less informed on the role of Sessions in the firing of Comey.
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