US A-G Jeff Sessions to testify in public today over Russia probe

WASHINGTON • US Attorney-General Jeff Sessions will testify in a public hearing before the Senate Intelligence Committee today, the committee chairman said in a statement yesterday.

A Justice Department spokesman said Mr Sessions requested the open setting because "he believes it is important for the American people to hear the truth directly from him". It was unclear on Sunday whether the committee planned to question him in an open or closed session.

Either way, senators said he would face pointed questions not only about his contacts with Russian officials, but also about his conversations with Mr James Comey, the ousted Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) director.

Members of the intelligence committee said they wanted Mr Sessions to recount what happened during and after the Feb 14 Oval Office meeting where, Mr Comey said, President Donald Trump pressured him to drop the FBI investigation into former national security adviser Michael Flynn. Mr Sessions was among those the President asked to leave the meeting so he could speak privately with Mr Comey.

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Mr Sessions' appearance before the committee, as it investigates Russian meddling in last year's election, is expected to offer critical details as lawmakers debate whether Mr Trump's reported comments to Mr Comey - that Mr Trump hoped, in reference to the Flynn investigation, that Mr Comey could "let this go" - amount to obstruction of justice.

Senators are also looking at whether the Attorney-General violated his recusal from the Justice Department's Russia investigation by writing a memo recommending Mr Comey's firing. Mr Sessions removed himself from the inquiry after it emerged he had met at least twice with the Russian ambassador last year, though he had testified at his confirmation hearing that he had not had contact with Russians.

REUTERS, NYTIMES

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 13, 2017, with the headline 'US A-G to testify in public today over Russia probe'. Print Edition | Subscribe