WASHINGTON – Attorney General Jeff Sessions has agreed to appear before the Senate intelligence committee on June 13 to answer questions regarding the Russia investigation, on the heels of former FBI Director James Comey's fiery testimony last week.
In a letter Saturday to Sen. Richard Shelby, Sessions wrote that his decision to appear comes in light of Comey's testimony.
Sessions already had been scheduled to discuss the Justice Department budget before a Senate panel chaired by Shelby. However, Sessions said it's clear the investigation of alleged Russian meddling in the presidential election would become the focus of questioning and described the intelligence panel as the proper forum for that discussion.
It's unclear whether the meeting will be open to the public or closed, but lawmakers want to hear from Sessions considering Comey's wide-reaching allegations.
During last week's hearing, Comey said President Trump's team lied about the reasons for his firing; speculated that he was ousted because of the Russia probe; and claimed Trump once sought his loyalty, which Trump later denied. Comey, though, also affirmed that he told Trump he wasn't personally under investigation and said he did not move to stop the broader Russia probe while he was FBI director.
Comey also suggested there might be more to Sessions' recusal from the Russia probe, telling lawmakers he believed it was “inevitable” that Sessions would recuse himself.
“We also were aware of facts that I can’t discuss in an open setting that would make his continued engagement in a Russia-related investigation problematic,” Comey said.
The Department of Justice, however, issued a statement standing by the original explanation.
Spokesman Ian Prior said Sessions "began consulting with career Department of Justice ethics officials to determine whether he should recuse himself" shortly after taking office.
"Given Attorney General Sessions’ participation in President Trump’s campaign, it was for that reason, and that reason alone” Sessions made the March 2 decision to recuse himself from the Russia investigation, Prior said.
Sessions 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 U.S. He said during his confirmation hearing that he had not met with Russians during the campaign.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.