The nation's top legal officer is set to go before Congress on Tuesday to try to defuse a bomb that the former Federal Bureau of Investigation director dropped into his lap.
Democratic Senator Jack Reed said on Sunday he would question U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions why he was involved in the firing last month of FBI Director James Comey after he had recused himself from matters relating to the Russian Federation probe. "That's a question for the committee", said Justice Department spokeswoman Sarah Isgur Flores.
On Monday, the White House did not rule out the possibility of Sessions invoking executive privilege at some point during his testimony.
In addition to the Senate Intelligence Committee's investigation into Russia's role in USA politics, special counsel Robert Mueller is leading an independent inquiry into Russia's meddling and potential links between Russians and the Trump campaign, after being appointed by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein last month.
His staffers have since acknowledged that he met twice with Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak.
Sessions had been scheduled to testify on the same day before the House and Senate appropriations subcommittees.
It wasn't specified whether he would testify in an open or closed setting. "If they do not come to any agreement, of course the matter could be litigated".
"My sense was the attorney general knew he shouldn't be leaving, which is why he was lingering", Comey said last week. Trump also expressed frustrations with Sessions, one of his earliest high-profile campaign backers.
Facing turmoil about investigations over his campaign's ties to Russia, Trump plans to bring more Americans into the economy by having them start working as apprentices.
And if Sessions was involved with that decision, in what other ways might he have continued to be involved with the Russian Federation inquiry even after announcing that he wouldn't take part?
Senator James Lankford (R-OK), Senate Intelligence Committee.
Democrats said Sessions needs to resolve conflicting evidence about contacts with Russians and to explain if and why he recommended Comey's firing by Trump, an action that could be a violation of his recusal.
"I'm calling for an end to the investigations about the President Trump's campaign colluding with the Russians". During a congressional hearing, Comey signaled that there were some yet unknown by the public reasons behind Sessions's recusal.
Please detail all your meetings with Russian officials during the presidential campaign and transition.. If he confirms there was a meeting at which he and Kushner were asked to leave, it could bolster Comey's account. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley and Feinstein, formally requested Comey's memos of his meeting with Trump from Comey's friend Daniel Richman. Senate Democrats have been champing at the bit for more than a month now to get an answer to what exactly Sessions meant when he said he was recusing himself. The White House has denied any collusion with Moscow.
In addition, Comey has said Sessions did not respond when he complained that he did not want to be left alone with Trump again. Is there any request from the President or any other official in the White House that has made you uncomfortable since you were sworn in as attorney general? Is there any way to ask about it in open session?
And, if Sessions was aware of the President's rationale, Reed said he expects that senators will ask why he did not remove himself from discussions about Comey.
Members of Congress would love it if their witnesses gave the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth - but that is seldom how it actually works.
Tuesday's hearing may also throw new light on the awkward state of the relationship between Trump and Sessions. Bharara told ABC News' George Stephanopoulos on Sunday that after getting zero calls from former President Barack Obama in seven years, Trump met with him once and called him three times after the election, "ostensibly just to shoot the breeze", and the third time - after the inauguration, and two days before Trump fired him - Bharara said he did not return Trump's call, because it would have been inappropriate. "You swore an oath".