Here are five things to watch as the attorney general heads before the Senate to face questions on the Russia controversy.
Jeff Sessions has been a staunch ally of Donald Trump as an early surrogate of the real estate mogul’s unconventional campaign and now as attorney general, carrying out the president’s unapologetically populist agenda.
That loyalty will be put to the test on Tuesday.
Sessions has so far avoided public testimony on his connections to the Russia probe engulfing the Trump administration — but his hastily arranged appearance before the Senate Intelligence Committee could finally unlock some answers to questions that have chased the attorney general for weeks.
Last week’s testimony from James Comey raised more questions about Sessions, especially when the fired FBI director hinted at — but declined to publicly share — information about the attorney general that Comey said would have made Sessions’ involvement in the Russia probe “problematic.”
It remains unclear exactly how much Sessions will divulge Tuesday, considering other DOJ officials — including Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein — cited special counsel Robert Mueller’s ongoing probe as they declined to respond to queries at a similar Intelligence hearing last week.
Still, Tuesday’s hearing is a chance for Sessions to personally push back on the record against reports of additional undisclosed meetings with the Russian ambassador that could add to the scandal that prompted his recusal from the probe in the first place.
Here are five things to watch as Sessions testifies on the evolving Russia controversy, which marks his first public appearance on Capitol Hill as attorney general:
Does Sessions assert executive privilege?
The attorney general may invoke executive privilege in response to questions about some of the most sensitive dealings with Trump, particularly his role in Comey’s firing that stunned Washington one month ago.
White House press secretary Sean Spicer declined to say whether Sessions would go that route, noting it would be “premature” to speculate how the attorney general may answer questions he may face.