Attorney General Jeff Sessions Senate Hearing on the Russian Probe was showing planned misuse Executive Privilege!
“COTTON: Do you like spy fiction: John le Carre, Daniel Silva, Jason Matthews?
SESSIONS: Yeah, Alan Furst, David Ignatius’ books.
COTTON: Do you like Jason Bourne or James Bond movies?
SESSIONS: No, yes, I do” (Politico, 2017).
Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III or Jeff Sessions, who is the Alabama politician and a vital part of the Campaign of President Donald Trump had his hearing with the Senates Intelligence Committee and the continued Russian probe, as to get the facts of the possible collusion between the Trump Campaign and the Russian external force. This has been the giant obstacle and the sore thumb on the American Democracy since November 2016. Since Trump won and got elected, but while the released documentations and hacking of the opponents of Trump, the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and Presidential Candidate Hillary Clinton. Therefore, yesterdays hearing was the second one, as the Republican politician and others had positive gains by the release of internal mails. These are well-known by the ones who followed the election.
This hearing is the second one of bigger characters, as the first one was former FBI director James Comey, who addressed his role and his position on the matter. As he was sacked and had his story for how the times has been after the election and during. Therefore, yesterdays hearing could show the public more insights into the Russian Probe. Still, yesterday didn’t give much insights, as Attorney General Sessions tried to say as little as possible and deflect as much as he could. Nevertheless, take the first point that I don’t believe have been given powers too. Since the President and this regard Donald Trump have the knowledge of memo’s and Executive Orders back to the 1980s. He wouldn’t even remember pre-Cleveland basketball team without LeBron James. So first let me introduce the President Ronald Reagan and his Executive memo.
President Ronald Reagan signed a memorandum into law for the trust between state officials and the White House. To certainly make sure the conversations and the discussions would be between the Executive who has the Executive Privilege and can avoid to disclose the information, even if the President is asked. Therefore, this piece of information is important:
“2. If the head of an executive department or agency (“Department Head”) believes, after consultation with department counsel, that compliance with a Congressional request for information raises a substantial question of executive privilege, he shall promptly notify and consult with the Attorney General through the Assistant Attorney General from the Office of Legal Counsel, and shall also promptly notify and consult with the Counsel to the President. If the information requested of a department or agency derives in whole or in part from information received from another department or agency, the latter entity shall also be consulted as to whether disclosure of the information raises a substantial question of executive privilege” (Reagan, 1982).
“3. Every effort shall be made to comply with the Congressional request in manner consistent with legitimate needs of the Executive Branch. The Department Head, the Attorney General and the Counsel to the President may, in exercise of their discretion in the circumstances, determine that the executive privilege shall not be invoked and release the requested information” (Reagan, 1982).
I doubt that President Trump ever would do this unless Stephen Bannon or someone else of his faulty White House could make him consider this possibility, especially if they kiss the ring and say they will be loyal to the man. Nevertheless, Attorney General Sessions believes that is done. Just take a look!
“WARNER: To your knowledge, have any Department of Justice officials been involved with conversations about any possibility of presidential pardons about any of the individuals involved with the Russia investigation?
SESSIONS: Mr. Chairman, I’m not able to comment on conversations with high officials within the white house. That would be a violation of the communications rule that I have to —
WARNER: Just so I can understand, is the basis of that unwilling to answer based on executive privilege?
SESSIONS: It’s a long standing policy. The department of justice not to comment on conversations that the attorney general had with the president of the united States for confidential reasons that rounded in the coequal branch.
WARNER: Just so I understand, is that mean you claim executive privilege?
SESSIONS: I’m not claiming executive privilege because that’s the president’s power and I have no power there” (Politico, 2017).
So he said to Senator Warner, that he is following this policy of Ronald Reagan, but says is coequal branch. Which shows that he is guessing more than knowing of it himself. As a legal mind and legal counsel to the President. It is worrying how he is struggling to explain the Executive Order. But he tried to explain it to someone else.
“SEN. MARTIN HEINRICH: Attorney General Sessions, has the president ever expressed his frustration to you regarding your decision to recuse yourself?
SESSIONS: Senator Heinrich, I’m not able to share with this committee private communications —
HEINRICH: You’re invoking executive privilege.
SESSIONS: I’m not able to invoke executive privilege. That’s the president’s prerogative.
HEINRICH: My understanding is that you 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. You say this is classified, can’t answer it here. I’ll answer it in closed session. That’s bucket number two. Bucket number three 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 long-standing DOJ rules that protect conversations made in the executive without invoking executive privilege?
SESSIONS: Senator, I’m protecting the president’s constitutional right by not giving it away before he has a chance to review it.
HEINRICH: You can’t have it both ways.
SESSIONS: And second I am telling the truth in answering your question and saying it’s a long-standing policy of the department of justice to make sure that the president has full opportunity to decide these issues” (Politico, 2017).
So AG Sessions tried to go further to avoid answering questions, as he continue to pull the questions and not answer. Which for me implies that he knows more than he says and also that he doesn’t want to disclose. Not because it is classified, but because he fear the implications of his words. That he will entertain and continue to give evidence into the investigation. Therefore, as a prosecutor he tries to avoid the reasoning and also stop the time, so that the ones following it gets little or nearly nothing from the man. He did it to a third Senator as well!
“KING: I respect your willingness to be here. You testified a few minutes ago I’m not able to invoke executive privilege. That’s up to the president. Has the president invoked executive privilege in the case of your testimony here today?
SESSIONS: He has not.
KING: Then what is the basis of your refusal to answer these questions?
SESSIONS: Senator king, the president has a constitutional —
KING: I understand that, but the president hasn’t asserted that. You said you don’t have the power to exert executive privilege so what is the legal basis for your refusal to answer the questions?
SESSIONS: I’m protecting the right of the president to assert it if he chooses and there may be other privileges that could apply in this circumstance.
KING: Well, I don’t understand how you can have it both ways. The president can’t not assert it, and you’ve testified that only the president can assert it and yet I just don’t understand the legal basis for your refusal to answer.
SESSIONS: What we try to do, I think most cabinet officials, others that you questioned recently, officials before the committee, protect the president’s right to do so. If it comes to a point where the issue is clear and there’s a dispute about it, at some point the president will either assert the privilege or not or some other privilege would be asserted, but at this point I believe it’s premature
KING: You’re asserting a privilege.
SESSIONS: It would be premature for me to deny the president a full and intelligent choice about executive privilege. That’s not necessary at this point.
KING: You testified a few minutes ago, that quote, we were asked for our opinion. Who asked for your opinion? You testified we were asked for our opinion.
SESSIONS: My understanding is I believe I’m correct in saying the president had said so” (Politico, 2017).
So if he is trying to show it earlier, he suddenly backs down from it. As he was there to testify, but at this point he is avoiding to saying anything. AG Sessions tries to flex power and codes, but at the same time not. Because there is no proof that that the President has given the provisions to him. Instead, he uses it, but avoid it.
Many has focused on the recalling, not remembering as he cannot answer to the Senators about over 20 times during the hours of testimony, but enough people has commented on that. But the powers of using Executive Privilege to avoid answering is a disgrace to do, especially when we possible have a President who has no idea of the provision or even existence. So to grand yourself higher-powers than you possibly can have to avoid questions prove his disregard for the Senate Intelligence Committee hearing yesterday.
He did it yet another time, with yet another senator, as he again plays for time and doesn’t answer, as he himself cannot mention the name of the Executive Privilege. Therefore, take a look at that as well:
“HARRIS: And you referred to a long-standing DOJ policy. Can you tell us what policy it is you’re talking about.
SESSIONS: Well, I think most cabinet people as the witnesses, you had before you earlier, those individuals declined to comment, because we’re all about conversations with the president —
HARRIS: Sir, I’m just asking you about the DOJ policy you’ve referred to.
SESSIONS: A long-standing policy, a policy that goes beyond just the attorney general.
HARRIS: Is that policy in writing somewhere?
SESSIONS: I think so.
HARRIS: So did you not consult it before you came before this committee knowing we would ask you questions about that?
SESSIONS: Well, we talked about it. The policy is based —
HARRIS: Did you ask that it would be shown to you?
SESSIONS: The policy is based on the principle that the president —
HARRIS: Sir, I’m not asking about the principle. I’m asking when you would be asked these questions–
SESSION: Well, I’m unable to answer the quest–
HARRIS: and you would rely on that policy –” (Politico, 2017).
This is just the point about Executive Privilege! The simple point of that AG Sessions on this matter show concern about he see himself and the President. As he has no issues with using the President, but not doing it well. He want to use a policy he doesn’t know the name.
Still, the August 1982 Memo for the President show’s how he could have explained it:
“The privileges available to protect the confidentiality of the Attorney General’s communications with the Office of the President can be roughly categorized into three classes, depending upon the nature of the communications for which the privilege is asserted, the interests which are sought to be protected by the claim of privilege, and the persons against whom the claim is made. This memorandum represents an effort by this Office to provide the Attorney General with a general outline of the privileges available to him to protect his confidential communications and working papers from compulsory disclosure when he believes that disclosure would be against the interests of the Department, the President, or the broader “ public,” and to provide guidelines for the assertion of those privileges. While the foregoing discussion should prove helpful in providing a framework for analysis of potential claims of privilege, we would caution that the applicability of any privilege to a given set of circumstances will almost always involve a judgment of competing values. While the Attorney General or the client must decide initially whether to assert the privilege, the task of resolving conflicts arising out of such competing values, in the final analysis, is one that is reserved to the courts” (Politico, 2017).
This here says it all. But that is just what I recall and recollect of this matter. Since AG Sessions oblivious did what he could to abstain and not say anything. This is proven by his recollection and his remembering of the affairs during the Trump campaign. Since most of the hearing went-on like this! Peace.
Deputy Attorney General Theodore B. Olson – ‘Confidentiality of the Attorney General’s
Communications in Counseling the President – MEMORANDUM FOR THE ATTORNEY GENERAL’ (02.08.1982)
President Ronald Reagan – ‘Memorandum for the Heads of Executive Departments and Agencies – Subject: Procedures Governing Responses to Congressional Requests for Information’ (04.11.1982)
Politico – ‘Transcript: Jeff Sessions’ testimony on Trump and Russia’ (13.06.2017) link: http://www.politico.com/story/2017/06/13/full-text-jeff-session-trump-russia-testimony-239503