Attorney General Jeff Sessions is set to testify publicly on Tuesday before the Senate Intelligence Committee.
Here’s what we hope to learn:
1. Tell us about Sergey Kislyak
Back in March, Sessions recused himself from the Justice Department’s investigation into possible collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign after stories surfaced that he had met with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak twice, even though during his confirmation hearing with the Judiciary Committee, he denied having met with any Russians.
Additionally, Comey told members of the Senate Intelligence Committee during a closed session Thursday that Sessions may have had a third, previously unreported, meeting with the Russian ambassador, according to a Senate aide who was not authorized to disclose the information.
Expect senators — especially Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, who sits on both Intelligence and Judiciary Committees — to ask why he didn’t disclose the first two meetings and whether a third meeting happened.
2. What happened with Comey?
Senators will likely ask about the firing of Comey. The former FBI chief last week told senators that he was fired over the Russia investigation. Given that Sessions had recused himself from the investigation, but still recommended that Comey be fired, expect it to come up why Sessions would participate in Comey’s dismissal.
“The Senate and the American people deserve to know exactly what involvement with the Russia investigation he had before his recusal, what safeguards are in place to prevent his meddling, and why he felt it was appropriate to recommend the firing of Director Comey when he was leading that investigation,” said Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer of New York said.
Our guess: Sessions will say he was Comey’s boss for everything, not just Russia, so he had a duty to be involved in firing Comey and finding his replacement.
3. Is there bad blood between him and the president?
Last week, during the buildup to Comey’s testimony, reports broke that there has been tension between the attorney general and President Trump. Per a New York Times report, things had “grown sour” between the two. ABC News reported Sessions offered to resign at one point.
Trump has criticized Sessions for recusing himself from the Russia investigation, which he believes led to the appointment of Robert Mueller as special counsel to oversee the probe.
Senators will likely ask about whether Sessions offered to resign and whether he offered to step down.
Here’s why we might not learn everything that we hope to learn
Two words: Executive privilege. Last week, there was chatter that Trump may invoke executive privilege, the legal doctrine that allows the president and other members of the executive branch to withhold information from other branches of government, to keep Comey from testifying. In the end, Trump did not.
The question over whether Sessions will invoke executive privilege during his testimony is still up in the air, however.
Trump spokesman Sean Spicer said Monday that it was “premature” to discuss this hypothetical. Still, he did not exclusively rule it out: “I think it depends on the scope of the questions.”
SOURCE: USA Today – Jessica Estepa and Erin Kelly