When Attorney General Jeff Sessions appears before the House Judiciary Committee Tuesday, he’ll face a new round of questions about what he knew about Russian contacts during Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign.
While the reason for the hearing is oversight of the Justice Department and how it’s carrying out its mission, the attorney general can be asked about anything — and it’s likely that the Russia investigation will be a dominant theme, especially given recent developments in the special counsel and congressional probes.
Here are some of the issues lawmakers may raise with the attorney general at the hearing, which begins at 10:00 a.m.
Papadopoulos is the first person to face criminal charges that cite interactions between Trump campaign associates and Russian intermediaries during the 2016 presidential campaign.
He’s the former foreign policy campaign adviser who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his contacts with foreign nationals and offered to set up a meeting with then-candidate Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin during a March 2016 meeting that both Sessions and Mr. Trump attended. This was not a conversation that Sessions has disclosed in his prior appearance before lawmakers. Democrats on the committee are likely to press Sessions on what he remembers of this meeting.
Earlier this year, Sen. Al Franken, D-Minnesota, asked Sessions about a “continuing exchange of information during the campaign” between Trump campaign aides and Russian officials. Sessions replied that he was “not aware of any of those activities,” adding that he “did not have communications with the Russians.” He later conceded that he had met with then-Russian Envoy Sergey Kislyak twice during the campaign, but that he did not recall having had any conversations about the presidential race with him.
Papadopoulos pleaded guilty on Oct. 5 to one count of lying to FBI agents about the nature of his interactions with “foreign nationals” who he thought had close connections to senior Russian government officials.
Last week, the House Intelligence Committee released the transcript of its seven-hour interview with Page, another Trump campaign adviser. In it, he revealed that he had told members of the Trump campaign about his trip to Moscow in July to give a speech, and he said the speech was unrelated to the Trump campaign.
Some members already believe Sessions has misled them about his own contacts with Kislyak from documents. In July, the Washington Post reported that Kislyak had told the Russian foreign ministry that he and Sessions had talked about where Mr. Trump stood on issues related to Russia, as well as U.S.-Russia relations in a Trump administration.
Some of the Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee are likely to hit Sessions hard about the statements he’s made to lawmakers in the past about Russia — like California Rep. Ted Lieu, who recently mocked Sessions in a Tweet with a nickname he borrowed from Donald Trump. “Lyin’ Jeff Sessions” would be testifying he noted, adding, “Retweet if you think he is going to commit perjury again.”
Uranium One deal
Another topic of interest likely to come up is a 2010 deal involving Russian interests and uranium mines in the U.S., which Sessions is apparently already mulling. The attorney general, according to a report Monday by the Washington Post, is said to be considering the appointment of a second special counsel to investigate the 2010 sale of a Canadian mining company Uranium One to Russia and any wrongdoing by the Clinton Foundation in relation to that sale — and has directed senior federal prosecutors to explore at least some of the matters and report back to him and his top deputy, according to a letter obtained by The Washington Post.
That letter came in response to Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte’s call for another special counsel to look into the FBI’s handling of the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server while she was secretary of State, issues related to the Clinton Foundation and the Uranium One purchase.
Two other House committees are already examining the 2010 uranium deal struck with Russia amid allegations that the FBI had gathered evidence about Russian attempts to influence Hillary and Bill Clinton through donations to the Clinton Family Foundation.
Watch to see whether lawmakers bring up the special election for Sessions’ Alabama U.S. Senate seat and GOP nominee Roy Moore, whose candidacy is in turmoil over an explosive report by the Washington Post that said Moore had sexual contact with a 14-year-old girl while he was in his 30s. Another accuser came forward Monday alleging that Moore had sexually assaulted her decades ago.
A growing number of Sessions’ former GOP Senate colleagues, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, are calling on Moore to drop his bid.
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