WASHINGTON - U.S. lawmakers said Sunday they want answers from U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions when he testifies this week before the Senate Intelligence Committee investigating Russian interference in last year's presidential election.
“There’s a question of his [Sessions’] participation in the firing of [former FBI] director Comey,” Democratic Senator Jack Reed of Rhode Island said on Fox News Sunday. “Then, there have been allegations, publicly, of meetings that go beyond the meetings that he has already declared he had with representatives of Russia’s government. That will come up.”
Sessions originally was scheduled to appear before House and Senate appropriations subcommittees this week. But he wrote to Congress Saturday that he wanted to speak before the Senate Intelligence Committee instead to address questions that arose during Comey's testimony last week.
“I assume that this [hearing] will be public,” Republican Senator James Lankford of Oklahoma said on CBS’ Face the Nation program. “We want to be able to get his side of it, get all the facts out there. We’ve had a lot of unnamed sources in the media come out and make statements about Jeff Sessions. It would be very good to get it directly from him.”
The Justice Department, which Sessions heads, has been investigating contacts between the Russian government and President Donald Trump's inner circle.
An early backer of Trump, Sessions recused himself from the DOJ investigation during the early days of the administration. At his January confirmation hearing as attorney general, he testified that he had not met with Russian government officials during the campaign. Later, Sessions acknowledged he had had two meetings with the Russian ambassador, Sergey Kislyak.
During nearly three hours of testimony last week, Comey cryptically told the Senate Intelligence Committee that the FBI had “additional facts” about Sessions he could “not discuss in an open setting.”
"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 wrote to Alabama Senator Richard Shelby, who heads an appropriations subcommittee that authorizes spending by the Justice Department.