Sessions To Testify About Comey Before Senate Intelligence Committee
Attorney General Jeff Sessions will testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday about recent claims made by former FBI Director James Comey, he said Saturday.
Sessions, who recused himself from the Russia probe in March, had been scheduled to testify before the Senate and House Appropriations Subcommittees next week. But in letters to the chairmen of those panels, Sessions says he has instead accepted an invitation to testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee.
“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 told Alabama Sen. Richard Shelby and Texas Rep. John Culberson.
“The Senate Intelligence Committee is the most appropriate forum for such matters, as it has been conducting an investigation and has access to relevant, classified information.”
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein will instead testify before the appropriations panels, Sessions said.
It is not clear whether Sessions will talk to the intelligence committee in an open or closed setting. But his letter suggests that he expects to face questions about Comey’s statements on Thursday about the reasons for Sessions’ recusal from the Russia probe.
Sessions removed himself from the investigation on March 2, shortly after it was revealed that he met at least twice last year with Russia’s ambassador, Sergey Kislyak.
Sessions was serving as senator for Alabama at the time of the meetings, which also occurred while he was advising the Trump campaign. Sessions did not disclose the interactions with Kislyak during his Senate confirmation hearing, but he has claimed that the encounters were related to his work as a senator and not as a member of the Trump campaign.
In his testimony, Comey vaguely suggested that there may be other reasons for Sessions’ recusal. After Comey met in a classified meeting with the intelligence committee, reports leaked out that Sessions may have had a third meeting with Kislyak last year.
Sessions can also expect to be asked about his role in Comey’s May 9 firing. He will also likely be asked about an exchange he had with Comey in mid-February after the then-FBI chief had a one-on-one Oval Office meeting with Trump.
Comey testified that Trump asked him in that meeting to close an investigation into former national security adviser Michael Flynn. He discussed the meeting with Sessions shortly afterward, he testified. Sessions and other administration officials had been in the Oval Office when Trump asked everyone but Comey to leave. Comey testified that he asked Sessions to never leave him alone with Trump again because it was inappropriate. He says he did not tell Sessions about Trump’s request regarding Flynn.
Trump denies Comey’s claims and says he is willing to testify under oath to dispute them.