No senator has ever testified against a colleague in a confirmation hearing. But unprecedented times call for unprecedented measures, so Sen. Cory Booker (D-MA) is joining two members of the House to speak out against Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL).
Rep. Cedric Richmond (R-LA) and Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) are set to appear before the Senate judiciary committee on Wednesday.
“I do not take lightly the decision to testify against a Senate colleague,” Booker, a New Jersey Democrat, said in a statement. “But the immense powers of the attorney general, combined with the deeply troubling views of this nominee is a call to conscience.”[…] “The attorney general is responsible for ensuring the fair administration of justice, and based on his record, I lack confidence that Sen. Sessions can honor this duty,” Booker said.
Booker’s opinion of Sessions isn’t new. “Not only has Senator Sessions been a staunch opponent of reforming the tragic shortcomings in our criminal justice system,” Booker wrote in a November statement following Trump’s appointment, “he holds a number of views that are inconsistent with how most Americans believe justice should be applied under our Constitution.”
Despite efforts to spin his record, Sessions has consistently worked against voting rights for minorities and staunchly opposed efforts to diversify the Alabama judiciary. Yet Booker left out the best reason of all to prevent Sessions from becoming Attorney General.
Jeff Sessions will not resist Donald Trump’s corruption
While his testimony will likely focus on Sessions’s disturbing history of opposition to civil rights and equality, there is an even better reason for Booker to oppose his nomination: his history of rubber-stamping one of Alabama’s worst governors.
“The Attorney General has got to say no to the President if he wants to do something, just like a good corporate lawyer has to tell the CEO sometimes,” Sessions once said in a hearing on the scandal-plagued George W. Bush-era Justice Department. But the record indicates that when it was his turn to stand on principle, Sessions has done the exact opposite most of the time.
As the Constitutional Accountability Center notes in a blistering new report, “during his brief two-year tenure as Alabama Attorney General from 1995-97, Sessions was asked by Governor James or his Administration for formal legal advice, and on at least two occasions Sessions produced legally flawed opinions that aligned with James’ known preferences, increased his power, and enabled James to act as he intended.”
Troublingly, those Sessions opinions also aligned with the interests of one of Alabama’s most politically powerful and deep-pocketed organizations at the time, whose leadership took credit for electing James and Sessions to office (an assessment of his own political career that Sessions publicly agreed with), and an official of which personally contributed to Sessions and benefited from one of his opinions.
Sessions was not just an apologist whose legal excuses failed in court, he was instrumental in
“clear[ing] the way” for a politically connected insurance company’s planned no-bid coverage of state road work; urging the Alabama Ethics Commission to approve corporate-funded junkets for state employees; providing formal support for a local sheriff’s use of chain gangs; and fighting successfully against seating the first African American intermediate appellate court judges in Alabama’s history.
As matters stand today, reality show star-turned-president elect Donald Trump will be in violation of the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution from the moment he takes the oath of office. Jeff Sessions is just about the last Attorney General we want to police an administration that’s already set to be the most corrupt in American history.
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