Saturday, 21 October, 2017

Sessions to appear before Senate intelligence committee

Kelley Robertson | 13 June, 2017, 07:45

In a statement Thursday, however, the Justice Department said Sessions recused himself in light of his participation in President Donald Trump's campaign, and "it was for that reason, and that reason alone".

Later, Sessions acknowledged he had had two meetings with the Russian ambassador, Sergey Kislyak.

Sessions, a longtime senator before being tapped by US President Donald Trump as the nation's top law officer, announced the decision in a letter Saturday in which he referred to remarks made by fired Federal Bureau of Investigation Director James Comey in the same forum.

In a letter on Saturday to Senator Richard Shelby Mr Sessions said that he had been scheduled to discuss the Justice Department budget before House and Senate Appropriations sub-committees but that it had become clear some members would focus their questions on the Russian Federation investigation.

Richard Shelby, Senate Appropriations Committee chair, Sessions cited public statements of some members that they would use their time with Sessions to ask him questions about the Russian Federation issue instead of the purported subject of discussion, the Department of Justice's FY 2018 budget.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican and another member of the Judiciary Committee, said both Sessions and former Attorney General Loretta Lynch should appear.

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

Sessions recused himself from a federal investigation into contacts between Russia and the Trump campaign after acknowledging that he had met twice a year ago with the Russian ambassador to the U.S. He said during his confirmation hearing that he had not met with Russians during the campaign.

Comey said during his testimony that he asked a friend to release contents of the memos he'd written about his conversations with the president to a reporter.

And, given Trump's statement that he had been thinking about the Russian Federation investigation when he chose to fire Comey, the former FBI director expressed doubt when asked whether Sessions had adhered to his recusal. The Justice Department has denied that, saying Sessions stressed to Comey the need to be careful about following appropriate policies. There had been some question as to whether the hearing would be open to the public, but the Justice Department said Monday he requested it be so because he "believes it is important for the American people to hear the truth directly from him".

Sessions had told lawmakers at his confirmation hearing in January that he hadn't met with Russians during the campaign. The deputy attorney general, Rod Rosenstein, will appear in place of Sessions at the budget review. Feinstein said she was especially concerned after National Intelligence Director Dan Coats and National Security Agency Director Michael Rogers refused to answer questions from the intelligence committee about possible undue influence by Trump.

"There's an unpredictability. He projects an instability", Feinstein said. Reed was on "Fox News Sunday".

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