Five things to know before Attorney General Sessions’ hearing
WASHINGTON (Sinclair Broadcast Group) – Attorney General Jeff Sessions will testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee, Tuesday. The former Alabama Senator agreed to the hearing Saturday as the Committee continues to investigate Russia’s possible involvement with the presidential election. Sessions’ hearing before the committee will be public.
Here are five things to know before Tuesday’s hearing.
Sessions’ denied contact with Russian officials while acting as surrogate to Trump campaign.
While still serving as a Senator for the state of Alabama, Sessions acted as a surrogate for the Trump campaign. During Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ Jan. 10, 2017, confirmation hearing, Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., asked the Senator if he or anyone else with the Trump campaign interacted with Russian officials.
“I have been called a surrogate at a time or two during that campaign, and I did not have communications with the Russians,” Sessions said during the hearing.
Sen. Patrick J. Leahy, D-VT, also asked Sessions in a questionnaire from his confirmation hearing if he had "been in contact with anyone connected to any part of the Russian government about the 2016 election, either before or after election day."
Sessions simply replied, "no."
Senate Democrats have raised questions regarding additional meetings between the two men. One potential encounter at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington D.C. in April 2016 and the other at the Republican National Convention.
However, the Justice Department has said that the Senator was only at the Mayflower to attend a speech by President Trump and Sessions and Kislyak did not meet.
Sessions recused himself from the Russia investigation
On March 2, 2017, Sessions recused himself from the investigation into Russia’s meddling with the presidential election and the possible involvement of President Trump's campaign.
“I have decided to recuse myself from any existing or future investigations of any matters related in any way to the campaigns for President of the United States. I have taken no actions regarding any such matters, to the extent they exist. This announcement should not be interpreted as confirmation of the existence of any investigation or suggestive of the scope of any such investigation,” Sessions said in a statement.
Sessions did not disclose meetings with Russian officials on Security clearance papers
Later, on May 24, 2017, CNN reported that Sessions also did not disclose contacts with Russian foreign officials, on his security clearance documents he filled out the previous year.
Comey’s testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee
Former FBI Director James Comey released his opening statement before testifying before the Senate Intelligence Committee. In the statement, Comey stated he told Attorney General Jeff Sessions he did not want to be left alone with Trump again.
“I took the opportunity to implore the Attorney General to prevent any future direct communication between the President and me. I told the AG that what had just happened – him being asked to leave while the FBI Director, who reports to the AG, remained behind – was inappropriate and should never happen. He did not reply. For the reasons discussed above, I did not mention that the President broached the FBI’s potential investigation of General Flynn,” Comey’s statement said.
The Justice Department has denied these allegations by Comey stating that the Attorney General did emphasize the importance of following the appropriate polices.
Later during the same hearing, the former FBI director said that the FBI expected Sessions to recuse himself from the Russia investigation but declined to elaborate in an open setting.
“Our judgment, as I recall was he was very close to and inevitably going to recuse himself for a variety reasons. We also were aware of facts that I can't discuss in an open setting that would make his continued engagement in a Russia related investigation problematic,” Comey said.
Sessions possible involvement with Comey’s dismissal as FBI director
Some lawmakers on Capitol Hill have expressed concern with the Attorney General’s involvement with Comey’s dismissal as FBI Director.
Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., Ranking Member of the Senate Armed Service Committee and member of the Senate Intelligence Committee has said Session’s involvement is a “real question of propriety.”
Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla., feels that Sessions testimony will allow the committee to further examine the accusations made by Comey.
"We want to be able to get his side of it," Lankford said.