The New York Times editorial board relates that Donald Trump’s attorney general nominee, Jeff Sessions “managed to skate through most of the first day of his confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee with smooth talk and a conveniently faulty memory.”
None of this means he is at all suitable for the post to which Trump wishes to nominate him, and People For the American Way Executive Vice President Marge Baker issued the following statement:
“Given Jeff Sessions’ long record of extremism, in addition to the fact that he was rejected by this committee for another position thirty years ago, the burden was on Senator Sessions today to show that he’s fit to serve as attorney general. He failed miserably.
“First and foremost, he’s shown that he learned nothing from the fact that he was rejected by a bipartisan majority of the committee thirty years ago. He brushed off the allegations of racism that Republicans and Democrats alike determined were credible in 1986, and he doubled down on his unsuccessful prosecution of voting rights activists.
“Today, after three months, he finally decided that grabbing a woman by her genitals without consent is sexual assault, but he gave no indication of why he so rushed to defend a candidate who described precisely that behavior. He ignored American values when he brushed aside the possibility of deporting DREAMers and separating families. In attempting to puff up his record on civil rights, he continued to misrepresent his work on cases in which he had no substantive involvement. He dismissed concerns about his failure to disclose thousands of dollars in oil royalties. He treated as inconsequential his long association with anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim hate groups. And while he was right to say he would recuse himself from any Clinton investigation, he failed to address how he would handle recusal in connection with other crucial issues—including the investigation of Russian influence in our elections and Donald Trump’s unprecedented conflicts of interest—in which his vociferous support for and connections to President Trump raise grave concerns.
“Jeff Sessions has a long record of putting his extreme ideology above the Constitution and the law. Nothing he said today should reassure senators he wouldn’t do exactly that as attorney general.”
PFAW Communications Director Drew Courtney is already on record as saying,
“Jeff Sessions is once again painting himself as a civil rights leader—that’s preposterous. He can’t puff up his record by taking credit for the work of others. If anything, he should explain why he attempted to claim responsibility for cases he hardly touched.”
In 1986, Coretta Scott King wrote that Sessions’ confirmation as a federal judge would “have a devastating effect on…the progress we have made everywhere toward fulfilling my husband’s dream.” Nothing has changed in the 30 years since.
As Baker said, nothing Sessions said today gives Americans any reason to suppose Sessions is anything different than what his record says he is. Putting his own ideology above the Constitution may make him right for Donald Trump, who has shown he plans to do the same, but it makes him wrong for the American people, who deserve so much better.