Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-NM) had a testy exchange with Attorney General Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III on Tuesday. Sessions made some mind-numbingly stupid comments today in front of the Senate Intelligence Committee and went as far as to claim that no one ever briefed him and he never asked about Russian interference even before he recused himself.
Heinrich claimed that Sessions was “obstructing” the investigation into the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia. During his testimony, Sessions repeatedly said that it would be “inappropriate” for him to discuss what took place in private conversations with the president, but Heinrich strongly disagreed and dug into the Attorney General.
Heinrich asked, “Attorney General Sessions, has the president ever expressed his frustration to you regarding your decision to recuse yourself?”
“Sen. Heinrich, I’m not able to share with this committee…,” Sessions said.
“You’re invoking executive privilege,” Heinrich shot back.
Sessions responded, claiming, “I’m not able to invoke executive privilege. That’s the president’s prerogative.”
Heinrich then said it was his “understanding” that he “took an oath, you raised your right hand here today and you said that you would solemnly tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, and now you’re not answering questions.”
“You’re impeding this investigation, so my understanding of the legal standard is that you either answer the question — that’s the best outcome,” Heinrich continued.
He didn’t stop there. He kept hammering Sessions:
You say, “This is classified, can’t answer it here. I’ll answer it in closed session.” That’s bucket No. 2. Bucket No. 3 is to say, “I’m invoking executive privilege.” There is no appropriateness bucket. It is not a legal standard. Can you tell me why what are these longstanding DOJ rules that protect conversations made in the executive without invoking executive privilege?
Sessions continued to stonewall, saying, “Senator, I’m protecting the president’s constitutional right by not giving it away before he has a chance to review it.”
“You can’t have it both ways,” Heinrich insisted.
After a lengthy back and forth, Heinrich said, “I’m asking about your personal knowledge from this committee, which has a constitutional obligation to get to the bottom of this.”
“There are two investigations here. There is a special counsel investigation,” he continued. “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 Director Coats, like the silence of Adm. Rogers, speaks volumes.”
Sessions said, “I would say that I have consulted with senior career attorneys in the department.”
“I suspect you have,” Heinrich responded.
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