The US attorney general, Jeff Sessions, has agreed to appear before the Senate intelligence committee next week as it investigates alleged Russian meddling in the presidential election.
In a letter on Saturday to Senator Richard Shelby, Sessions writes that his decision to appear comes in light of last week’s testimony by fired FBI director James Comey.
Sessions had been scheduled to discuss the justice department budget before a Senate panel chaired by Shelby on Tuesday but the attorney general said it was clear from reports that the Russian investigation would become the focus of questioning.
Sessions has recused himself from a federal investigation into contacts between Russia and the Trump campaign after acknowledging that he had met twice last year with the Russian ambassador to the US
He writes that it is “important that I have the opportunity to address these matters in the appropriate forum”, which he says is the Senate intelligence committee, “which has been conducting an investigation and has access to relevant, classified, information”. He will appear before that committee on Tuesday rather than the justice department budget session.
He had said during his confirmation hearing that he had not met with Russians during the campaign.
But then in March, Sessions announced his recusal from the Russian investigation from revelations of previously undisclosed meetings with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak.
Earlier this week, Comey, who was fired as FBI director by President Donald Trump gave evidence to the Senate intelligence committee, and said that he had been urged pledge loyalty to Trump and drop an investigation into another senior aide, national security adviser Michael Flynn.
To the committee Comey appeared to imply that Sessions may have more links to Russia than have already been established. “Our judgment, as I recall, was that he was very close and inevitably going to recuse himself for a variety of reasons,” Comey said during his questioning. “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.”
It is not yet clear whether Session’s testimony will be heard in an open or closed session.