(CN) – Attorney General Jeff Sessons said Saturday that he will skip previously scheduled appearances before the Senate and House appropriations committees on Tuesday to testify in public before the Senate Intelligence Committee on the firing of former FBI director James Comey and the events that led up to it.
“I previously accepted an invitation to testify on behalf of the Department of Justice before the House and Senate Appropriations Subcommittees about the departments FY18 budget, which funds the department’s efforts in several important areas such as combating the opiod Crisis and violent crime,” Sessions wrote in a letter to Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., chairman of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies, and Rep. John Abney Culberson, R-Texas, chairman of the House Appropriations subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies.
“In light of reports regarding [former FBI director James] Comey’s recent testimony before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, it is important I have an opportunity to address these matters in the appropriate forum,” Sessions continued. “The Senate Intelligence Committee is the most appropriate forum for such matters, as it has been conducting an investigation and has access to relevant, classified information.”
This will be Session’s first appearance before a Congressional committee since his confirmation hearing in January.
Since then, several news organizations have reported that Sessions twice met with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak during the 2016 presidential campaign and did not disclose those meetings to the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Those reports led Sessions to recuse himself from the investigation into alleged Russian meddling in the presidential contest. At the time he said the investigation would be overseen by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who last month appointed former FBI Director Robert Mueller to conduct the inquiry.
Sessions will also likely be asked about his role in Comey’s firing, about his recollection of a meeting in which President Donald Trump asked for him to leave the room and for his subordinate — Comey — to stay, and about reports that he recently offered Trump his resignation.
Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein will take Sessions’ place before the appropriations panels.