Attorney General Jeff Sessions may have evaded answering questions about his conversations with President Donald Trump to the Senate Intelligence Committee. But in doing so he may have bought himself an opportunity to answer similar questions from the Senate Judiciary Committee, said Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, a member of the latter committee.
“His failure to answer a question of Justice Department policy is just one of the reasons why the Attorney General must appear before the panel with jurisdiction over the Department,” Whitehouse said in a statement sent to reporters after Sessions testified yesterday. “The Senate Judiciary Committee has an oversight duty to perform on behalf of the American people. It’s time for Attorney General Sessions to come before us and answer truthfully.”
At a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on Tuesday, Sessions routinely declined to answer questions about conversations he had with Trump about firing former FBI director James Comey. “It’s longstanding policy in the Department of Justice not to comment on conversations that the attorney general has had with the president of the United States for confidential reasons that really are founded in the co-equal branch powers of the Constitution of the United States,” Sessions said.
To which Whitehouse, in a press release, said, “As someone who served in the Department of Justice, I would love to know what he is talking about.”
Whitehouse said, “Sessions admitted that he himself cannot claim executive privilege, and that the President has not invoked it. He did not indicate that he and the President discussed classified information, nor did he provide any other legal basis for his refusal to give answers. Instead, he used his odd excuse to repeatedly dodge some of the most pressing questions about conversations he may have had with the President, including those concerning his recusal from the Russia investigation and his involvement in Director Comey’s firing.”
Sessions has not yet been formally invited to appear before the Senate Judiciary Committee by GOP Chairman Chuck Grassley, but ranking Democrats have been imploring Sessions to testify since at least March.