US Attorney-General Jeff Sessions will testify in Senate on Russian meddling in election

US Attorney-General Jeff Sessions speaks at the National Law Enforcement Training on Child Exploitation meeting in Atlanta, Georgia, on June 6, 2017.
US Attorney-General Jeff Sessions speaks at the National Law Enforcement Training on Child Exploitation meeting in Atlanta, Georgia, on June 6, 2017. PHOTO: EPA

WASHINGTON (NYTIMES) - Attorney-General Jeff Sessions told Congress Saturday (June 10) that he would testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday about issues related to Russia's interference in the 2016 election.

Sessions had been scheduled to testify before other committees about the Justice Department's budget that day, but he will instead appear before the intelligence panel.

The attorney-general may face sharper questioning from the intelligence committee, which has had access to intelligence materials in its inquiry into the Russian meddling.

Sessions said he would send Rod J. Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general, to testify about the department's budget.

Sessions noted that several lawmakers on those panels had said they intended to ask him about the Russia investigation, after testimony by former FBI director James Comey before the intelligence committee Thursday.

"In light of reports regarding 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 wrote.

Sessions recused himself in early March from investigations related to the 2016 election. He removed himself after it emerged that he had met at least twice with the Russian ambassador in 2016, though he had testified at his confirmation hearing that he had not had contact with Russians.

Comey told the panel that on Feb 14, the president had made private comments to Comey in the Oval Office that he interpreted as an improper order to drop a criminal investigation into Michael Flynn, Trump's former national security adviser.

The next day, Comey said, he implored Sessions never to leave him alone again with the president, but Sessions did not reply.

"The attorney -general was not silent; he responded to this comment by saying that the FBI and Department of Justice needed to be careful about following appropriate policies regarding contacts with the White House," the statement said.

And, given Trump's statement that he had been thinking about the Russia investigation when he decided to fire Comey, the former FBI director expressed doubt when asked whether Sessions had adhered to his recusal.

"If, as the president said, I was fired because of the Russia investigation, why was the attorney-general involved in that chain?" Comey said.

"I don't know."