Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT), the Senate President pro tempore emeritus and senior Democrat on the Appropriations Committee, is tired of Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ stonewalling, and today, he announced he is not going to take it anymore.
Leahy announced that at next week’s Senate Appropriations hearing on FY18 Justice Department funding, he intends to press Sessions on questions he has been avoiding surrounding his involvement in the Trump campaign’s collusion with Russian officials. During his confirmation hearing, Sessions lied under oath while being questioned by Senator Al Franken (D-MN), denying two meetings he had with the Russian Ambassador during the 2016 campaign.
“I have sought for months to clarify Attorney General Sessions’ contacts with Russian officials following his false testimony in response to questions from me and from Senator Franken,” Leahy said in his announcement.
The Senator’s frustrations with Sessions are not new, but they reached a tipping point with the testimony of former FBI Director James Comey. Leahy said that Comey “testified today that he expected the Attorney General to recuse himself from the Russia investigation, weeks before the Attorney General made that decision himself… This raises even more questions about the Attorney General’s actions.”
The announcement paints Sessions into a corner. He has successfully avoided addressing questions about his part in the campaign’s foreign interference and why he played a role in the firing of Comey after recusing himself from the very Russia investigation that was the basis for his firing.
Next week’s hearing is critical to the funding of the Justice Department he leads and is therefore impossible for him to avoid. His job now depends on facing the questions he least wants to discuss.
Leahy will be ready. “I have many important questions for him to answer,” he said.
Don’t count on Sessions to be as forthright as Comey — at least not intentionally. We’ll find out how he addresses the allegations Tuesday at 10:00 AM EDT. Stay tuned.