Attorney General Jeff Sessions will testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee in an open public hearing Tuesday. Sessions’ appearance will follow former FBI Director James Comey’s testimony before the committee last week, during which he raised questions about Sessions’ involvement with his firing given his recusal from matters related to the Russia investigation and told senators in a closed briefing that Sessions may have had a third meeting with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak that he failed to disclose during his confirmation hearing. From the Associated Press:
[Sen. James Lankford] said Sessions' testimony Tuesday will help flesh out the truth of Comey's allegations, including Sessions' presence at the White House in February when Trump asked to speak to Comey alone. Comey alleges that Trump then privately asked him to drop a probe into former national security adviser Michael Flynn's contacts with Russia.
Comey also has said Sessions did not respond when he complained he didn’t “want to get time alone with the president again.” The Justice Department has denied that, saying Sessions stressed to Comey the need to be careful about following appropriate policies.
“We want to be able to get his side of it,” Lankford said.
Last week, Slate’s Leon Neyfakh wrote that Comey’s testimony suggests that there may be more reasons for Sessions’ recusal from the Russia investigation than we already know:
[Comey] and other FBI officials believed—as early as Feb. 14, the day of Trump and Comey’s meeting in the Oval Office—that Sessions would have to recuse himself from the Russia investigation. This turned out to be true, of course; Sessions did ultimately recuse himself. Crucially, though, he didn’t do so until March 2, after the Washington Post reported that he had met with the Russian ambassador to the U.S. at least twice during the campaign and had therefore misled Congress when he testified at his confirmation hearing that he’d had no contacts with Russian officials about the 2016 election.
So, what did the FBI know about Sessions on Feb. 14 that made Comey and others so confident he would recuse?
Tuesday’s hearing, scheduled for 2:30 p.m., might shed light on that question.
*Correction, June 12, 2017: This post originally misspelled Leon Neyfakh's name.