Attorney General Jeff Sessions agrees to appear before Senate intelligence committee

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Attorney General Jeff Sessions is in for sharp questioning by senators Tuesday on the extent of his contacts with Russian officials during the presidential campaign and of his involvement in the firing of Federal Bureau of Investigation chief James Comey.

In a letter seen by Reuters, Mr. Sessions told Senator Richard Shelby, chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies, that the intelligence committee is the "most appropriate" place to address matters that came up during Mr. Comey's hearing on Thursday. But on Saturday, after senators made clear they would zero in on Sessions's connections to Russia, Sessions shifted his plan, opting to address the Senate Intelligence Committee.

The Senate Appropriations Committee had called in the attorney general to testify about budget issues.

The letter did not say whether Mr. Sessions planned to give public testimony or to appear before the panel behind closed doors.

While addressing the U.S. congressional hearing days ago, Comey said Trump fired him to try to undermine the agency's investigation of possible collusion by his campaign with Russia's alleged efforts to influence the 2016 presidential election.

In his testimony last week, Mr Comey accused the White House of lying about himself and the FBI and repeatedly said he believed he was sacked because of his investigation into whether Donald Trump's campaign colluded with Russian Federation to swing the U.S. presidential election.

Comey Says Trump Lied
He painted a picture of an overbearing president who he did not trust and who pressured him to stop the FBI Flynn probe . Comey's testimony further suggested that there remain numerous questions for members of the administration to answer.

However, when asked directly if he believed President Trump had colluded with Russia, Mr Comey declined to respond "in an open hearing".

US Attorney General Jeff Sessions, whose contacts with Russian officials during the US presidential campaign have sparked questions, heads to Congress next week where he is expected to face a grilling. During his January confirmation hearing he failed to disclose meetings he held with Russian officials. "My impression was, something big is about to happen", Comey said, as he recalled the encounter.

Sessions also said the reason why he accepted the committee's invitation was due in part to Comey's testimony on Thursday.

The Senate panel is investigating allegations of Russian meddling in last year's White House race.

Several Republican lawmakers also criticized Comey for disclosing memos he had written in the aftermath of his private conversations with Trump, calling that action "inappropriate".

Mr Sessions has been dogged by questions about possible additional encounters with the ambassador, Sergey Kislyak. "We on the Intelligence Committee want to know the answers to those questions, and we have begun to request information from the attorney general to allow us to get to the bottom of that".

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