Attorney General Jeff Sessions is scheduled to testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee Tuesday afternoon in what could be a significant day of information gathering or a total exercise in futility. And that’s if he testifies at all. Sessions has bailed on congressional testimony twice before and seemingly maneuvered to avoid appearing before the Appropriations Committees only to find himself in open session in front of Intelligence.
The obvious questions Sessions will face have to do with his meetings with Russian officials during the 2016 campaign and the run-up to President Trump taking office. Sessions has already fun afoul of Congress when he now-famously told the Senate committee considering his nomination that he had no contact with Russian interests during the campaign.
Since that appearance, it’s come to light that Sessions had at least two, possibly three meetings with the Russian ambassador. What’s strange about these meetings isn’t that they occurred—it would be normal for a representative of Trump to meet with foreign officials. The question is why Sessions felt the need to conceal them. (Sessions’ people say a third meeting that has been reported possible didn’t happen.)
Sessions has a number of other things to answer for. His involvement in the firing of FBI Director James Comey is at issue. Sessions had recused himself on all things connected to the Russian investigation. Trump himself said he fired Comey with the Russian – Trump “witch hunt” in mind. So why was Sessions involved?
Other potential questions:
• Does Sessions know anything about any recording of conversations in, by, or from the White House? The president is playing this storyline out like it’s the season finale of a reality show. He originally raised it in a tape, tauntingly saying Comey had better hope there aren’t any. Comey said (“Lordy,”) he hopes there are. Two Trump spokespeople denied knowing if such recording exists. Trump says he’ll tell us in a short period of time.
• Did Trump ask Sessions to vacate the room so the president could speak to Comey alone as Comey testified? Did Comey tell Sessions, in essence, don’t leave alone with that guy (Trump) again?
• Comey says Trump asked to end the FBI’s investigation into fired NSA Michael Flynn and asked for a loyalty pledge. Trump says it never happened. Who does Sessions believe?
• Comey says he took contemporaneous notes after talking with the president. Did Sessions?
• Comey says he arranged for his personal notes to be leaked to the press. They were Comey’s notes leaked after Comey was fired. In Sessions’ view, is this illegal?
• It’s been reported that things deteriorated between Sessions and Trump the point that the AG offered to resign. Is that true? What is Sessions’ view of his relationship with the president now?
Of course, all of this is based on Sessions actually testifying and actually answering questions.