On this Tuesday morning, people across Texas and around the nation are preparing to hear from U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions. He will testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee, which is investigating Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election. To the shock of many political watchers, Sessions asked that the hearing be open to the public.
Todd Gillman, Washington Bureau Chief for the Dallas Morning News, says Sessions’ request to testify in public was surprising, but was also likely motivated by pressure from President Donald Trump, who hopes to gain a PR win from a strong presentation by the attorney general.
“For him to testify only behind closed doors would probably only further the narrative that there’s something stinky about what’s been going on here,” Gillman says.
Sessions’ testimony is not expected to break new ground, nor to be as dramatic as last week’s hearing with former FBI Director James Comey.
Gillman says there are a few things observers can expect from today’s session:
– Texas Sen. John Cornyn and other Republicans are unlikely to seek specifics from Sessions about what he knew about Comey’s private meeting with the president. It was during this meeting that the former FBI director says Trump said he hoped Comey would end his investigation of former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn’s pre-inauguration contacts with Russian officials.
– Republican senators will likely seek to limit the political damage to the president and their party. During the Comey hearing, Cornyn and other GOP senators deflected questions about the propriety of Trump’s actions with regard to the Russia investigation. They are likely to give Sessions an opportunity to fully tell his side of the meeting, during which Comey alleges that Trump requested Sessions to leave the room so he could speak privately with Comey
– Democrats, and perhaps a few Republicans, will likely seek clarification on Comey’s testimony about not wanting to be alone with Trump again, following their private meeting.
Written by Shelly Brisbin.