When Attorney General Jeff Sessions testifies before the Senate Intelligence Committee Tuesday, it will be in a hearing that’s open to the public. A Justice Department spokeswoman tells NPR that Sessions requested it be public.
The hearing in the Hart Senate Office Building is scheduled to start at 2:30 p.m. ET Tuesday.
“The Attorney General has requested that this hearing be public. He believes it is important for the American people to hear the truth directly from him and looks forward to answering the committee’s questions tomorrow,” said the Justice Department’s Sarah Isgur Flores, in a statement relayed by NPR’s Carrie Johnson.
When it was first scheduled, the hearing was part of the annual budget appropriations process. But senators on the committee are expected to question Sessions about his meetings with Russians — a topic that’s come under increased scrutiny amid investigations into Russia’s interference in the U.S. election.
In March, Sessions recused himself from any investigations that look at Russia’s actions in the 2016 campaign. As he did so, he defended himself against allegations of improper contacts, saying, “Let me be clear: I never had meetings with Russian operatives or Russian intermediaries about the Trump campaign.”
That remark came after revelations emerged that Sessions had met with Russia’s ambassador to the U.S. last year, despite testifying under oath during a confirmation hearing that he “did not have communications with the Russians.” Sessions, a former senator, later issued a clarification saying he had met with the ambassador.
New questions about Sessions were raised last week, after former FBI Director James Comey said that he and other leaders at the agency had expected Sessions to recuse himself weeks before he did — and that the reasons behind that thinking are classified. Sessions could be asked about that part of Comey’s testimony, as well as his role in Comey’s firing last month.
The attorney general has also been the subject of rumors that he might leave the Trump administration. Here’s what Carrie recently reported on All Things Considered:
“[Sources] are telling me Trump has been very angry with Jeff Sessions for recusing himself in the Russia investigation to begin with, lots of profane conversations and yelling. Sessions actually offered to resign, even though his friends say he doesn’t want to leave, but Trump has refused to accept that resignation.”
In addition to the Senate Intelligence Committee’s investigation into Russia’s role in U.S. politics, special counsel Robert Mueller is leading an independent inquiry into Russia’s meddling and potential links between Russians and the Trump campaign, after being appointed by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein last month.