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Sessions can't invoke executive privilege, but he's using it a lot

Atty. Gen. Jeff Sessions is having a hard time shaking questions about his refusal to testify about his conversations with President Trump, which has forced him to invoke a circuitous interpretation of the president's right to executive privilege

Not long after Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) grilled him about "impeding this investigation" by declining to answer questions, Sen. Angus King (I-Maine) took a shot.

It's not up to Sessions to invoke executive privilege. It's up to the president, making it tricky for Sessions to use that right to avoid answering questions.

“I understand" the right to executive privilege, King said. "But the president hasn’t asserted it," King told Sessions after he refused to discuss his conversations with Trump about the firing of FBI Director James B. Comey.

“I am protecting the right of the president to exert it if he chooses," Sessions replied.

That struck King as confusing. How could Sessions use an executive privilege that has not been invoked? “I don’t understand how you could have it both ways," he said.

Sessions said he was keeping Trump's options open for him. “It would be premature to deny the president a full and intelligent choice about executive privilege,” he said.

But King found an inconsistency. Sessions had just testified about a conversation with Trump, revealing that the president asked him for an opinion about Comey's job performance before he fired him.

Sessions said he only discussed the conversation because he believed Trump had disclosed it publicly already. 

“If he hasn’t, then I'm in error,” Sessions said.

“You’re being selective," King responded.

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