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Republicans urge Trump on tapes; Sessions to testify Tues

Republicans urge Trump on tapes; Sessions to testify Tues

Attorney General Jeff Sessions is in for sharp questioning by senators Tuesday on the extent of his contacts with Russian officials during the presidential campaign and of his involvement in the firing of Federal Bureau of Investigation chief James Comey.

With reports circulating that Trump had been clashing with his attorney general, and that Sessions had offered to resign, the White House on Tuesday declined to say whether the president maintained confidence in Sessions.

Sessions had been scheduled to testify Tuesday before a joint appropriations subcommittee of Congress, but on Saturday he sent letters to the committee chairmen saying that the intelligence committee would be a better forum to answer questions about Russian Federation.

"In light of reports regarding Comey's recent testimony before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, it is important that I have an opportunity to address these matters in the appropriate forum", Sessions wrote.

Jeff Sessions, a longtime senator until President Donald Trump picked him as United States attorney general, heads to Congress this coming week when he will face a grilling about his Russian interactions.

Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla., also a member of that committee, agreed the panel needed to hear any tapes that exist.

As for the timing of his recusal, Comey said the FBI expected the attorney general to take himself out of the matters under investigation weeks before he actually did.

When the two men were alone, the ex-FBI director said, Trump urged Comey to stop the investigation into fired national security advisor Michael Flynn.

However, it was not immediately clear if he would testify in public or private. However, Comey said he could not discuss those in a public session.

Sessions recused himself in March from a federal investigation into contacts between Russia and the presidential campaign of Donald Trump after acknowledging that he had met twice previous year with the Russian ambassador to the United States. COMEY: Our judgment, as I recall, is that he was very close to and inevitably going to recuse himself for a variety of reasons.

"We also were aware of facts that I can't discuss in an open setting that would make (Sessions') continued engagement in a Russia-related investigation problematic, " Comey added.

Sessions has been dogged by questions about possible additional encounters with the ambassador.

Sessions' testimony is expected to occur Tuesday in a closed meeting and to focus on the moments leading up to the private February 14 conversation where, according to Comey, President Trump pressed the then-FBI director to drop the investigation into former national security adviser Michael Flynn.

Briefing congressional appropriators on the Justice Department's budget is a critical part of the attorney general's job.

Mr Sessions said his decision to accept the intelligence committee's invitation to appear was due in part to Mr Comey's testimony.

Lawmakers, including Al Franken of Minnesota and Patrick Leahy of Vermont, have asked the FBI to investigate and to determine if Sessions committed perjury when he denied having had meetings with Russians.