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sessions hearing

Democratic senator accuses Sessions of 'obstructing' a congressional investigation

Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) on Tuesday accused Attorney General Jeff Sessions of "obstructing" a congressional investigation after Sessions repeatedly refused to answer questions about his conversations with President Trump regarding the firing of former FBI Director James Comey. Heinrich leveled the accusation after Sessions refused to invoke executive privilege, yet continually declined to provide answers while testifying before the Senate Intelligence Committee. Heinrich contended that Sessions' "silence ... speaks volumes."

Sessions did note that there are policies at the Department of Justice that, as Heinrich put it, "protect conversations made in the executive without invoking executive privilege." "Senator, I'm protecting the president's constitutional right by not giving it away before he has a chance to review 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 pressed Sessions on whether this was the "legal standard for not answering congressional inquiries." "It's my judgment that it would be inappropriate for me to answer and reveal private conversations with the president when he has not had a full opportunity to review the questions," Sessions maintained.

Watch the back-and-forth below. Becca Stanek