Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced Saturday that he will testify next week on matters connected to the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
In a letter to his former colleagues in the House and Senate, Sessions canceled a planned appearance before Congress’ appropriations committees and said he instead intends to appear on Tuesday before the Senate Intelligence Committee to address concerns raised by former FBI director James Comey in his bombshell testimony last Thursday.
During his testimony, Comey said that he was aware of non-public information that he said helped lead to Sessions’ decision in February to recuse himself from the FBI’s Russia investigation.
“Our judgment, as I recall, is that [Sessions] was very close to and inevitably going to recuse himself for a variety of reasons,” Comey told the Senate intelligence Committee. “We also were aware of facts that I can’t discuss in an opening setting that would make his continued engagement in a Russia-related investigation problematic.”
Sessions decided to recuse himself from the investigation shortly after he was confirmed as attorney general, amid reports that he failed to disclose meetings with Russia’s U.S. ambassador Sergey Kislyak during the 2016 presidential election.
President Donald Trump has privately expressed frustration about Sessions’ decision to recuse himself, and the two have had a tense relationship in recent weeks. Sessions even offered to resign before Trump left on his first foreign trip, but the president ultimately declined the offer, according to a person who regularly speaks with Sessions.
Sessions announced his decision to testify in a letter to his former Senate colleagues. He had been scheduled to testify before the House and Senate appropriations committees in support of the Department of Justice’s budget request, but he nixed his appearance after learning that lawmakers wanted to ask him about the Russia investigation. Instead, he’ll appear Tuesday before the Senate Intelligence Committee to address Comey’s cryptic testimony.
“The Senate Intelligence Committee is the most appropriate forum for such matters, as it has been conducting an investigation and has access to relevant, classified information,” Sessions wrote. “Therefore, I am pleased to accept the invitation to appear before members of that committee on June 13th.”
Sessions’ deputy, Rod Rosenstein, will take his place before the House and Senate appropriations panels on Tuesday.
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