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Attorney General Sessions to talk publicly to US Senate panel

13 Juin 2017

The appearance before the Senate intelligence committee comes one week after former FBI Director Comey cryptically told lawmakers the bureau had expected Sessions to recuse himself weeks before he did from an investigation into contacts between Trump campaign associates and Russian Federation during the 2016 election.

But behind the scenes, there was significant pushback from Democrats - including Senate Intelligence Committee vice chairman Mark Warner - who raised objections with Senate Intelligence Chairman Richard Burr that Sessions may be trying to skirt public scrutiny. Rosenstein has appointed former FBI Director Robert Mueller to head the federal probe as special counsel. Sessions is expected to face sharp questioning from his former Senate colleagues about his role in the investigation into contacts between Trump campaign associates and Russian Federation during the 2016 election.

"The Attorney General has requested that this hearing be public", Justice Department spokesman Sarah Isgur Flores said. But he says the president "believes that the sooner we can get this addressed and dealt with" the better.

"We were also aware of facts that I can't discuss in an open setting that would make his continued engagement in a Russia-related investigation problematic", Comey said. Dianne Feinstein of California has said there should be further investigation. That investigation continues, as do congressional inquiries.

"I don't understand why the president just doesn't clear this matter up once and for all", said Sen.

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The hearing will be held Tuesday at 2:30 p.m.

Sessions, a key campaign adviser to Donald Trump and the first senator to endorse him, stepped aside from the investigation in early March after acknowledging he had spoken twice in the months before the election with the Russian ambassador to the United States.

While several committee members, including Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Angus King (I-Maine) had voiced support for a public hearing, other members have complained that doing so will inevitably lead to a brick wall, where Sessions will say he can not discuss certain matters in public.

When asked what she thought of Comey's testimony, in which he said Trump suggested he drop a probe into former National Security adviser Michael Flynn's Russian Federation contacts, Ivanka Trump said her father felt "very vindicated.and feels incredibly optimistic". Republicans have pressed Trump to say whether he has tapes of private conversations with Comey and provide them to Congress if he does - or possibly face a subpoena.