Attorney General Jeff Sessions continued Trump administration officials’ policy of refusing to answer questions when testifying before the Senate while not invoking executive privilege but reserving the right of the President to invoke it at a later date.
He was further rattled by Martin Heinrich, a Democrat from New Mexico, who was angered by Mr Sessions saying he could not answer his question, because it related to a private conversation with President Donald Trump.
Heinrich’s patience was tested when he asked Sessions a direct question on whether President Trump expressed any displeasure on the attorney general’s decision to recuse himself from the Russian Federation probe.
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In an interview with the Washington Post, Cornell Law School professor Jens David Ohlin said Sessions did not provide an adequate reason to refuse to answer questions.
“Because you’re invoking executive privilege?” asked Heinrich. “White privilege? Because I hear that’s a thing”.
“There is no appropriateness bucket”.
HEINRICH: You can’t have it both ways.
“Certainly, the more President Trump opens his mouth and/or his Twitter account, the harder it will be for him and his associates to prevail in a fight over executive privilege - but that won’t stop them from invoking it, and from requiring Congress or the courts to sort it out”, Vladeck said via email.
During his questioning of Sessions, Sen.
HEINRICH: I suspect you have. Angus King (I-ME) confirmed that Trump had not invoked executive privilege to prevent Sessions from testifying at Tuesday’s hearing. The president can’t not assert it, and you’ve testified that only the president can assert it. “That’s the best outcome”. “Today’s contestant, attorney general and last surviving little rascal, Jeff Sessions“. There is also a congressional investigation, and you are obstructing that congressional delegation – investigation by not answering these questions, and I think your silence, like the silence of [CIA] Director [Dan] Coats, like the silence of [NSA Director] Admiral [Mike] Rogers, speaks volumes.