Attorney General Jeff Sessions' letter on Saturday offering to testify before the Senate intelligence committee on Tuesday caught members of the panel by surprise, and senators are concerned he's trying to avoid testifying publicly, a source familiar with the situation says.
Democratic Senate Leader Chuck Schumer and Senator Jack Reed questioned on Sunday why Sessions was involved in Trump's May 9 dismissal of Comey after he had recused himself from investigations of whether Russian Federation tried to meddle in the 2016 presidential election with possible help from Trump associates. The Attorney General had originally agreed to testify this week before the Senate and House Subcommittees about the Justice Department 2018 budget.
Sessions' testimony comes amid a reported riff with Trump..
Fellow Republicans, meanwhile, pressed Trump to come clean about whether he has tapes of private conversations with fired FBI Director James Comey and provide them to Congress if he does - or possibly face a subpoena.
MARTIN: So what's the attorney general likely to say?
Trump has been coy about whether any recordings exist of his private conversations with Comey, who was sacked by the president in May.
Can you commit to discuss with the committee in a closed session the reasons for your recusal from the Russian Federation investigation?
Sessions recused himself from the inquiry in March after media reports that he had been in two previously undisclosed meetings past year with Russian ambassador Sergei Kislyak.
Whether that hearing will be public or closed is not known.
"I would like to invite the president to testify before the Senate", Schumer said.
An attorney and broadcaster with longtime ties to a Christian legal organization has joined President Donald Trump's outside legal team to deal with the Russian Federation probes. He said he would send in his place Rod J. Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general. Last week Comey, who had taken notes immediately after his conversations with Trump, testified that POTUS's tweeted threat about tapes caused him to give some of his memos to a friend, who leaked the information contained to the New York Times. Dianne Feinstein of California has said there should be further investigation. It's not clear if those matters are what will be discussed with the Attorney General on Tuesday. Democratic Senator Ron Wyden, an intelligence committee member, asked the panel's leaders in a letter on Sunday to hold an open hearing. Graham said on "Face the Nation".
Trump's tendency to bring up the Russian Federation investigation, whether by insulting Comey or hinting at the existence of tapes, has created a headache for Republicans who want to focus on the party's priorities such as healthcare and tax reform.
She added: "With all the noise, with all the intensity of the media coverage and obviously what makes headlines, ultimately we're really focused on why the American people elected Donald Trump as their president".