Heinrich, Sessions Battle Over Executive Privilege

• June 13, 2017 4:52 pm


Sen. Martin Heinrich (D., N.M.) grilled Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Tuesday about his private discussions with President Donald Trump and whether they were covered by executive privilege.

Heinrich asked Sessions if Trump expressed frustration with him over his decision to recuse himself from any involvement in the Russia investigation, as has been reported in recent weeks.

"I'm not able to share with this committee private communication—" Sessions said.

"Because you're invoking executive privilege," Heinrich interjected.

Sessions replied that only the president could invoke executive privilege.

"My understanding is you took an oath, you raised your right hand here today, and you said you would solemnly swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth," Heinrich said. "Now, you're not answering questions. You're impeding this investigation."

Heinrich asked Sessions what are the longstanding Department of Justice rules that protect conversations Sessions had with Trump without invoking executive privilege.

"Senator, I'm protecting the president's constitutional right by not giving it away before he has a chance to do it, and secondly, I am telling the truth in answering your question in saying it's a longstanding policy of the Department of Justice … to make sure the president has full opportunity to decide these issues," Sessions said.

Heinrich told Sessions he was "obstructing" the congressional Russia investigation by not answering his questions, saying his silence "speaks volumes."

Heinrich had a similarly sharp exchange last week with Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, demanding he get answers on private conversations with President Donald Trump and adding he did not care how Coats "felt" about the discussions.