Sessions' testimony to Congress Tuesday to be open to public

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After a February 14 meeting in the Oval Office in which Comey charges that President Trump said he hoped the FBI director would "let go" of the investigation into former National Security Advisor Mike Flynn, Comey said he went to see Sessions and asked the attorney general to not leave him alone with the president again.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions will testify in public session at 2:30 p.m. Tuesday before the Senate Intelligence Committee for its ongoing probe into Russia's interference in last year's presidential election.

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.

People familiar with Comey's testimony in a second, closed hearing on Thursday, said the former director told the intelligence committee that Sessions may have had a third, undisclosed interaction with Russia's ambassador to the United States, Sergey Kislyak.

Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., said "there's a real question of the propriety" of Sessions' involvement in Comey's dismissal, because Sessions had stepped aside from the federal investigation into contacts between Russian Federation and the Trump campaign. The next day, Sessions recused himself from the Russian Federation investigation and said it would be overseen by his deputy attorney general, who last month appointed a special counsel to handle the probe.

Trump on Sunday accused Comey of "cowardly" leaks and predicted many more from him.

White House press secretary Sean Spicer on Monday left open the possibility Mr. Sessions would do this.

Fellow Republicans, meanwhile, pressed Trump to come clean about whether he has tapes of private conversations with fired FBI Director James Comey and provide them to Congress if he does - or possibly face a subpoena. The attorneys general of DC and Maryland will file a lawsuit later today against President Trump, alleging he violated the Constitution by allowing his businesses to accept payments from foreign governments. The Justice Department has denied that, saying Sessions stressed to Comey the need to be careful about following appropriate policies.

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The Justice Department said Monday that Sessions requested Tuesday's committee hearing be open because he "believes it is important for the American people to hear the truth directly from him".

As late as Sunday, the Justice Department signaled it expected Sessions testimony to be closed but said the final decision was up to the committee.

Trump's getting-back-to-work photo op kicked off a week in which he's under siege due to the Russian Federation investigation.

Comey also has said Sessions did not respond when he complained he didn't "want to get time alone with the president again". Sessions voted to "serve you in that regard" and commended Trump for "sending the exact right message and response that has been fabulous around the country".

Is it too cynical to suggest that Attorney General Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III must have decided on a plausible set of lies, evasions, and half-truths about Donald Trump and Russian Federation and obstruction of justice and his own contacts with Russian Federation? Trump's personal lawyer also challenged Comey's account, saying the president never asked for the investigation to be dropped.

Reed said he also wants to know if Sessions had more meetings with Russian officials as a Trump campaign adviser than have been disclosed. But: "I think there's absolutely evidence to begin a case".

Attorney General-designate, Sen. Jeff Sessions, testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., January 10, 2017, at his confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee. On Saturday, he wrote the chairmen of both committees and said he was sending his deputy attorney general to testify in his place.