Jeff Sessions' testimony is first chance to check Comey's version of events

The eyes of Washington turn again to the Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday, where embattled Attorney General Jeff Sessions faces questions over his Russian Federation contacts and role in the firing of Federal Bureau of Investigation director James Comey.

Some members of the Intelligence Committee, frustrated by the tight-lipped performance of other administration officials last week, said they were not going to allow Sessions to follow suit.

If the third meeting took place, it would contradict Sessions's previous assertion that he only met twice with the Russian official during the presidential campaign - once at the Republican National Convention and a second time in his Senate office in September 2016.

Sessions' testimony, his first since he recused himself from the Russian investigation in early March, comes less than a week after Comey recounted during widely viewed testimony before the intelligence panel how Trump had sought to pressure him into dropping an investigation of former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.

During his confirmation hearing, Sessions said he "did not have communications with the Russians" during the campaign.

Since then, lawmakers have raised questions about a possible third meeting at a Washington hotel, though the Justice Department has said that did not happen. Barring the emergence of evidence such as a surreptitious recording of the conversation - Trump tweeted that Comey had better hope there are no tapes - deciding which of the two men's accounts is factual may depend on which details most accurately reflect others' recollections. But he left the decision up to Burr, the sources said.A Justice Department spokeswoman said that Sessions requested the open setting because "he believes it is important for the American people to hear the truth directly from him."Comey told the same panel last week that the FBI had information in mid-February on Sessions that would have made it "problematic" for the attorney general to continue leading a federal probe into Russian attempts to influence the presidential election.Sessions recused himself from that inquiry in March after media reports that he had been in two previously undisclosed meetings previous year with Russian ambassador Sergei Kislyak.Tuesday's testimony, scheduled to start at 2:30 p.m. (1830 GMT), will be the first for Sessions in a congressional hearing since he became attorney general". The committee shortly after said the hearing would be open. And on Tuesday, odds are good that Sessions may also not respond to some of the most pressing questions at the hearing.

Questions are swirling about possible additional encounters with the ambassador, Sergey Kislyak. "You know, what were the circumstances that led to that, and why did he feel that that was appropriate?"

Shugerman said Sessions is unlikely to invoke his Fifth Amendment right against self-recrimination in order to avoid answering certain questions.

"To get to a hypothetical at this point would be premature", he added. "We're aware of it and we'll go from there", he said.

Comey himself had a riveting appearance before the same Senate panel last week, with some key moments centered on Sessions.

The president says he is 100 percent willing to give testimony under oath and meet with Bob Mueller to dispute the testimony given by Comey.

Sessions, who had agreed to testify this week before the Senate and House appropriations subcommittees about the Justice Department budget, wrote the chairmen of the committees Saturday and said he was sending his deputy to testify instead.

No time has been scheduled for Sessions to testify separately in a closed hearing to discuss classified matters, according to Senate aides, who were not authorized to speak publicly on the matter.

Can you commit to discuss with the committee in a closed session the reasons for your recusal from the Russian Federation investigation?

"What can he possibly tell the Senate committee if indeed he's done what he said he was going to do, which would include staying away from any intelligence on the ongoing investigation", Gillers said.

On Monday, in a odd photo op, members of Trump's Cabinet lavished praise on the President, who has struggled to extricate himself from the Russian Federation cloud over his White House.

Spicer, the spokesman, declined to say then that Sessions enjoyed Trump's confidence, though spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said later in the week that the president had confidence "in all of his Cabinet". This might have been an event CNN previously disclosed: A reception at Washington's Mayflower Hotel before a Trump speech in April, 2016, attended by both Mr. Sessions and Mr. Kislyak.

Comey painted a clear picture for the Senate Intelligence Committee: At the conclusion of a meeting with several people in the Oval Office, Trump - in Comey's telling - cleared the room.