Comey testified that he decided not to report the president's request to Sessions at the time, because the attorney general was weighing his recusal from all matters related to the Russia investigation - largely for his failure to acknowledge two previous meetings with the Russian ambassador during his January confirmation hearing - and for other "facts" the former director said he could not disclose in a public session. "He believes it is important for the American people to hear the truth directly from him and looks forward to answering the committee's questions tomorrow", the statement read. Invoking of executive privilege for administration employees is typically formally announced by the attorney general, but it's not exactly clear who would make the formal announcement for Sessions, said Michael Bahar, former Democratic staff director for the House intelligence committee and former White House lawyer.
He accused Trump of trying to block a probe into ties between former national security adviser Michael Flynn and Russian Federation, adding that the White House defamed him and the Federal Bureau of Investigation in order to justify the dismissal. "I think we could work out a way that it could be dignified, public with questions with (Senate Republican) Leader (Mitch) McConnell", Schumer told CBS News.
Sessions met regularly with Central European and Baltic ambassadors during the campaign, although the White House insists they were part of his duties as a senior member of the Senate's Armed Services Committee. Or does his appearance represent a White House-orchestrated counter attack following the damaging Comey testimony?
And then an ally of President Donald Trump suggested the President is thinking about firing the special counsel investigating the Russian Federation issue. Does he simply want to get his side of the story out following Comey's testimony?
"The Attorney General has requested that this hearing be public".
Comey's testimony last week revealed new avenues of inquiry that lawmakers are likely to pursue on Tuesday.
Later, Comey said he was so uncomfortable that he went to Sessions to "implore" him "to prevent any future direct communication between the President and me".
But in the rat-a-tat-tat of follow-up questions, Sessions slowly pried that door open again, by increasingly hedging his answers.
On Comey's accusations that Trump pressed him to drop the FBI investigation of Flynn, Bharara said "no one knows right now whether there is a provable case of obstruction" of justice.
Another key question on senators' minds: Sessions' role in Comey's firing.
"He was double-headed all the time, so it was very hard to distinguish", said one European diplomat who met with Sessions multiple times previous year.
Sessions stepped aside in March from the federal investigation into contacts between Russia and the campaign after acknowledging that had met twice past year with the Russian ambassador to the U.S. He had told lawmakers at his January confirmation hearing that he had not met with Russians during the campaign. The committee shortly after said the hearing would be open.
Lawmakers for weeks have demanded answers from Sessions, particularly about meetings he had last summer and fall with the Russian ambassador to the United States, Sergey Kislyak.
"If we get into national security issues, we can cut off that line of questions and defer it to a closed setting".
Later, Sessions directly blasted Comey for his testimony in private last week, "This is a secret innuendo out there being leaked about me - and I don't appreciate it".
"I have a recollection of him just kind of looking at me", Comey testified.