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The Senate Intelligence Committee expressed similar frustration last week with top intelligence officials when they refused to say whether Trump had asked them to interfere with the FBI's Russia investigation.They, too, did not explicitly cite executive privilege as a reason for declining to answer questions." In denying that he was claiming executive privilege, Sessions said several times that only the president can invoke such privilege.However, it has been possible in the past for other executive branch officials to invoke it, such as those working in the Eisenhower administration.
It wasn't until President Dwight Eisenhower that the term "executive privilege" was coined, however.According to Heinrich, valid reasons Sessions could give to decline to answer questions were due to classification, in which case he could answer the questions in a closed session, or due to executive privilege. Sessions argued "it would be inappropriate" to give answers regarding presidential communications away before Trump has "a full opportunity to review the questions and make a decision on whether or not to approve such an answer." In a fiery back-and-forth exchange with Senator Angus King, Sessions was asked whether Trump had already claimed executive privilege, to which Sessions replied he had not."You've testified that only the president can assert it," King said.Other presidents to famously claim the privilege include Thomas Jefferson, Richard Nixon, Bill Clinton, George W. Nixon was particularly notorious for his use of executive privilege during the Watergate investigation, which ended in a Supreme Court decision that found executive privilege to be constitutional and sometimes necessary, but not an absolute power.The court then compelled the Nixon administration to turn over the Watergate tapes to the special prosecutor. Sessions has already faced intense criticism from the Senators questioning him — particularly the Democrats — over refusing to answer questions without invoking executive privilege.