Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who had agreed to testify this week before the Senate and House appropriations committees about the Justice Department budget, wrote the chairmen of the committees Saturday and said he was sending his deputy to testify instead.
Sessions was scheduled to testify before Congress on Tuesday for the first time since he was confirmed as attorney general in February. In light of former FBI director James B. Comey’s testimony last week, Sessions was expected to get many questions from lawmakers about his contacts with Russian officials during the 2016 election campaign.
Sessions wrote to the two chairmen that he would testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday instead. A Justice Department official said that committee hearing probably will be closed to the public.
In early March, The Washington Post reported that Sessions twice met with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak during the campaign and did not disclose that to the Senate Judiciary Committee during his confirmation hearing in January. The next day, Sessions recused himself from the Russia investigation and said it would be overseen by his deputy attorney general, who last month appointed a special counsel to handle the probe.