On Wednesday, President Donald Trump said his office has been transparent with Special Counsel Robert Mueller‘s Russia probe, and is fully cooperating, having given 1.4 million pages of documents. He said they haven’t used “that I know of, or for the most part, presidential powers or privilege.”
The White House did not immediately respond to a Law&Crime request for comment on all the times the president invoked executive privilege.
Now might be a good time as any to review how executive branch employees have cited this power when refusing to answer questions from Congress about their conversations with the president. The thing is, executive privilege has to be invoked before its use, as pointed out last June by George Washington University Professor Jonathan Turley. Attorney General Jeff Sessions had cited privilege in testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee and again last October before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Neither time did Trump invoke it. In this second testimony, Sessions himself said that only the president can invoke privilege.
Last June, National Security Agency Director Mike Rogers and Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats refused to publicly answer the inquiry as to whether Trump asked them to downplay or deny the FBI’s probe into alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. Both men said they were not yet sure if the president wanted to invoke privilege in this situation.
Former White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon also cited privilege during questioning before the House Intelligence Committee. He said the White House told him to do it on behalf of the president.
Mueller is investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election, and alleged collusion by the Trump campaign. The president has repeatedly called it a “witch hunt” by Democrats.
Ronn Blitzer contributed to this story.
[Screengrab via CNN]