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Sessions Senate testimony to be public

13 June 2017

Following allegations that Sessions failed to disclose a third meeting with Russian officials, the attorney general canceled his Appropriations Committee testimony and agreed to testify in a closed session to the Senate Intelligence Committee.

Comey testified in public and then met with the committee in a closed session to discuss matters touching on classified information.

"I don't think it's for me to say whether the conversation I had with the president was an effort to obstruct", Comey testified. Susan Collins, R-Maine, a member of that committee, referring to the existence of any recordings. They say that Trump's leases, properties and other business "entanglements" around the globe have led to a conflict of interest under the so-called emoluments clause of the Constitution. Typically, Senate Intelligence hearings on this topic have lasted about three hours.

He said Trump reached out to him again after the inauguration but he refused to call back, shortly before he was sacked. Trump's lawyer, Jay Sekulow, said on ABC's "This Week", "The president said he is going to address the issue of the tapes, whether the tapes exist or not, next week".

On Wednesday, written testimony by Comey about his alleged interactions with President Donald Trump was released in which the ex-director noted that he asked Sessions "prevent any future direct communication" between Trump and himself after the two shared a private dinner on January 27 and a one-on-one Oval Office meeting on February 14 that Comey found to be "inappropriate".

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Mr Comey told the panel that on Feb 14, the president had made private comments to Mr Comey in the Oval Office that he interpreted as an improper order to drop a criminal investigation into former national security adviser Michael Flynn. A Justice Department spokeswoman tells NPR that Sessions requested it be public.

"We want to be able to get his side of it", Lankford said.

The high-stakes testimony also takes place amid reported friction between Sessions and Trump, who criticized the attorney general's decision to recuse himself in the Russian Federation probe. Comey was leading that probe. "Totally illegal? Very 'cowardly!'" Trump tweeted on Sunday. He also urged Trump to produce any tapes of his conversations with Comey.

After Comey's testimony last week, House and Senate investigators asked the White House to provide any record of conversations between Trump and Comey. That committee is more appropriate to discuss "the technical, legal aspects of obstruction of justice", according to Feinstein.

Adding to the tension for the White House are fast-approaching deadlines in Congress to approve a health care bill before a September 30 deadline and agree on a tax reform plan - both top campaign promises, which appear to be longshots.

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Sessions chose to step back from the investigation after reports revealed he had contacts with Russian officials.

But, in contrast to Comey's detailed account, it is unclear to what extent Sessions will be willing or able to answer the committee's questions, with the possibility that he might invoke executive privilege on some key matters.

Schumer, in the same interview, invited Trump to testify before the Senate, responding to the president's Friday claim that he'd be "100 percent" willing to speak under oath.

Last week, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer declined to answer whether Trump still had confidence in his attorney general.

Lindsay Jancek said Monday that Trump has been committed to "complete transparency and compliance with the law". Sessions didn't mention any meeting with Kislyak as a senator during his confirmation process but later as attorney general he recused himself from the investigation into Russian meddling in the election.

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Where it goes from there we don't know yet.