Sessions says he will discuss Comey with Senate panel

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U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a letter on Saturday that he will appear before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday to address matters former FBI Director James Comey brought up this week in testimony to the same panel.

In a letter seen by Reuters, 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 Comey’s hearing on Thursday.

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

“In light of reports regarding Mr. Comey’s recent testimony before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, it is important that I have an opportunity to address these matters in the appropriate forum,” Sessions said in the letter.

The committee “is the most appropriate forum for such matters, as it has been conducting an investigation and has access to relevant, classified information,” he added. The Senate panel is investigating allegations of Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

In March, Sessions removed himself from any probe into alleged Russian meddling in the elections, but maintained he did nothing wrong by failing to disclose that he met last year with Russia’s ambassador.

In testimony to the Senate panel on Thursday, Comey accused President Donald Trump of firing him to try to undermine the FBI’s investigation of possible collusion by people in Trump’s campaign with Russia’s alleged efforts to influence the 2016 presidential election.

Comey’s appearance raised new questions about the attorney general’s relationship with Russian officials and others with ties to President Vladimir Putin. One question is whether Sessions had any undisclosed meetings with Ambassador Sergei Kislyak or other Russians during the campaign or after Trump’s inauguration.

In the most eagerly anticipated U.S. congressional hearing in years, Comey told lawmakers the Trump administration had lied and defamed him and the Federal Bureau of Investigation after the president dismissed him on May 9.

Sessions had planned to appear before the Senate and House Appropriations Subcommittees, but the deputy attorney general will take his place, the letter said.

(Reporting by Idrees Ali; Editing by Bill Rigby and David Gregorio)

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