Attorney General Jeff Sessions is set to testify today before the House Judiciary Committee, where he’s likely to face questions related to the latest developments in the ongoing investigations into Russian interference in last year’s U.S. presidential election
Sessions previously appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee in October and Senate Intelligence Committee in June.
Two of President Donald Trump’s campaign advisers, including one-time campaign chair Paul Manafort, have already been indicted in special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation. Mueller’s probe is separate from congressional investigations.
Sessions will potentially be asked about his knowledge of Trump campaign contacts with Russia and political interference at the Justice Department.
With the questions likely to turn a routine oversight hearing into a marquee event on Capitol Hill, Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., the top Democrat on the committee, told ABC News he was “amazed that [Sessions] agreed to come before the committee.”
Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee told Sessions in a letter sent last week to expect questions on Russia. The letter notes that George Papadopoulos, the Trump campaign foreign policy adviser who pleaded guilty to lying to FBI agents, spoke with other campaign officials about his attempts to coordinate a meeting with Russian officials.
“The meeting in question was a meeting of the Trump campaign’s National Security Advisory Committee — a working group that you chaired,” the letter said.
It goes on to note that the revelations about Papadopoulos appear to run counter to previous statements Sessions gave under oath, including his insistence during his Senate confirmation hearing that he was “not aware” of communication “activities” between the Russian government and the Trump campaign.
The attorney general later told Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., in October he was “not aware of anyone else” within the campaign who had communications with the Russians.
“There will be a lot about his sworn testimony to the Senate,” Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Tenn., said of today’s hearing.
On the topic of political interference in his department’s work, Democrats want “assurances” that the Justice Department’s leaders aren’t being pressured by Trump into “protecting friends and punishing enemies.”
“What walls will he put in place to ensure that that’s not carried out?” Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Calif., asked.
The Democrats’ letter last week further raised the administration’s lack of “meaningful response” to “more than 40 letters” sent by committee members on issues related to everything from the firing of former FBI Director James Comey, to claims made by President Trump about the alleged “wiretapping” of Trump Tower, to the proposed suspension of White House adviser and Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner’s security clearance.
“The department’s inability to respond to these letters on a timely basis is unacceptable,” the letter said. “We expect a prompt response to every reasonable oversight request.”
Sessions may also be asked about the Justice Department’s response to the nation’s latest mass shooting. More than 20 people died after a gunman opened fire at a church about 40 miles southeast of San Antonio, Texas, Nov. 5.
Sessions last week traveled with Vice President Mike Pence to Texas to visit with victims of the shooting and first responders.