Hearings

Jeff Sessions: What to know ahead of his Senate Intelligence Committee testimony

Attorney General Jeff Sessions is slated to appear before the Senate intelligence committee on Tuesday.

His testimony follows fired FBI Director James Comey's session before the same Senate panel last week. Comey spoke of receiving pressure from President Donald Trump to drop a probe into former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn's contacts with Russia. 

Here's what you need to know about Sessions before he testifies. 

Controversial appointment 

As president-elect, Trump nominated the Republican Alabama senator in November to serve as his attorney general.

The pick proved divisive, with Democrats and Republicans debating bitterly over the nomination. Democrats claimed Sessions was weak on civil rights for various groups.  

During the nomination process, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., was rebuked for reading a 1986 Coretta Scott King letter. The letter opposed Session's previous federal judgeship nomination.

The Senate Judiciary Committee had rejected Sessions' federal judgeship nomination in 1986 after it was alleged that as a federal prosecutor, Sessions had called a black attorney "boy" and had said organizations like the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and the American Civil Liberties Union were un-American. Sessions said earlier this year that he'd never harbored racial animus.  

Ultimately, senators voted 52-47 in favor of Sessions' nomination to serve as attorney general in February. 

ATTORNEY GENERAL JEFF SESSIONS WILL TESTIFY IN PUBLIC

Sessions' recusal 

Sessions stepped aside in March from the 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., Sergey Kislyak. 

Sessions told lawmakers at his January confirmation hearing that he had not met with Russians during the campaign. Sessions has been dogged by questions about possible additional encounters with Kislyak. 

As for the timing of Sessions' recusal, Comey said the FBI expected the attorney general to recuse himself weeks before he actually did. Comey declined to elaborate in an open setting.

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"He was very close to and inevitably going to recuse himself for a variety of reasons," Comey said Thursday. "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."

The Department of Justice (DOJ) spoke out on Thursday, saying that "Given Attorney General Sessions' participation in President Trump's campaign, it was for that reason, and that reason alone, the Attorney General made the decision on March 2, 2017 to recuse himself from any existing or future investigations of any matters related in any way to the campaigns for President of the United States."

Trump has been upset with the AG since his recusal, with Sessions even offering to resign, according to reports

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What do we know about the hearing? 

Sessions' testimony will be open to the public. The hearing is scheduled to begin at 2:30PM EST, according to a press release from Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C. 

Sessions is expected to face sharp questioning from his former Senate colleagues about his role in the investigation into contacts between Trump campaign associates and Russia during the 2016 election.

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," the DOJ said Monday.  

The Associated Press contributed to this report.