Attorney General Sessions to testify before Senate panel in public

A Justice Department spokeswoman said Sessions requested the open setting because "he believes it is important for the American people to hear the truth directly from him"

Kevin Lamarque—Reuters
Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) is sworn in to testify at a Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing to become U.S. attorney general Jan. 10on Capitol Hill in Washington

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions will testify publicly to a Senate panel on Tuesday, the committee’s chairman said, setting up another congressional hearing on possible Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential race. Sessions announced Friday that he actively sought the opportunity to testify and announced Monday that it would be before the public, not behind closed doors. A series of leaks to media over the past several weeks raised concern that his testimony might not be reported accurately. Sessions is scheduled to testify at 2:30 p.m. on Tuesday.The decision to testify publicly, according to a Justice Department spokeswoman, is because “he believes it is important for the American people to hear the truth directly from him.”Sessions is likely to face questions by the Senate Intelligence Committee, chaired by Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.), over his dealings with Russian officials during the campaign and whether he had a role in firing former FBI Director James Comey on May 9.Comey testified last week before the same panel answering questions about Russia’s involvement in the presidential election and his relationship with President Donald Trump. Comey said the FBI had information in mid-February on Sessions that would have made it “problematic” for him to continue leading a federal probe into Russian attempts to influence the presidential election.While it is not unusual for political campaigns to have contact with foreign officials, Sessions recused himself from the inquiry in March after media reports said he had not disclosed two previous meetings last year with Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak. His recusal came despite objections from Trump.Sessions, a former senator from Alabama and an early supporter of Trump’s election campaign, will be the most senior government official to testify to the committee on the Russia issue. Russia has denied interfering in the U.S. election. The White House has denied any collusion with Moscow.