Sessions' plans to testify surprised Senate intelligence panel members

Chuck Myers  MCT  Newscom

Fellow Republicans pressed President Donald Trump on Sunday to come clean about whether he has tapes of private conversations with former FBI Director James Comey and provide them to Congress if he does - or possibly face a subpoena, as a Senate investigation into collusion with Russian Federation or obstruction of justice extended to a Trump Cabinet member. As mentioned above, since Attorney General Sessions is not testifying at hearings on the Justice Department budget, he'll be replaced by the Deputy Attorney General, Rod Rosenstein - who appointed Robert Mueller as Special Counsel for the Russian Federation probe.

Jack Reed, D-R.I., questioned Sunday why Sessions was involved in Trump's May 9 dismissal of Comey after he had recused himself from investigations of whether Russian Federation tried to meddle in the 2016 presidential election with possible help from Trump associates.

GOP strategist Ryan Williams, a former spokesman for Mitt Romney's presidential campaign, said Sessions could use this fact pattern to distance himself. The White House has denied any collusion with Moscow. But he agreed to instead testify before the Intelligence Committee in the wake of former FBI Director James Comey's no-holds-barred testimony last week; it had become clear Sessions would face questions related to the Russian Federation investigation no matter what committee he was appearing before.

Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, a member of the Intelligence committee, sent a letter to Sen. Richard Shelby, who chairs the Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies.

She said Sessions should also testify before the Judiciary Committee, because it was better suited to explore legal questions of possible obstruction.

"Our judgment, as I recall, was that he was very close [to the campaign] and inevitably going to recuse himself", Comey said during his testimony. Comey testified in public and then met with the committee in a closed session to discuss matters touching on classified information.

It is not yet known whether Session will testify to the committee in public or private. "You can't run forever", Leahy said in a Twitter message to Sessions.

As for the timing of his recusal, Comey said the FBI expected the attorney general to take himself out of the matters under investigation weeks before he actually did.

Trump's lawyer said that the president has "never, in form or substance, directed or suggested that Mr. Comey stop investigating anyone" and there was some debate during Comey's testimony as to whether Trump's claim that he "hoped" Comey would ease off from Flynn constituted an order.

Sessions in March removed himself from involvement in any probe into alleged Russian election meddling but maintained he did nothing wrong by failing to disclose that he met a year ago with Russia's ambassador.

President Donald Trump is predicting that former FBI Director James Comey's "leaks will be far more prevalent than anyone ever thought possible". "Totally illegal? Very 'cowardly!'" Trump tweeted on Sunday.

In response to Comey's testimony, Sessions issued a statement contradicting some of what Comey said. "We have to keep in mind that this is one person's record of what happened".

According to Sessions, his appearance before senators was "in light of Mr. Comey's recent testimony".

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