A brief digest of recent news coverage for Jeff Sessions, who was tapped to be Donald Trump’s Attorney General. The Alabama Senator’s confirmation hearing begins this week:
New York Times — Jeff Sessions, a lifelong outsider, finds the inside track
Sessions is in many ways Trump‘s antithesis: reedy-voiced, diminutive and mild-mannered, a devout Methodist and an Eagle Scout who will soon celebrate a golden wedding anniversary with his college sweetheart. His father ran a country store in the Deep South. And he is widely regarded as rigidly honest and inflexible on issues he considers matters of principle. Trump has meandered across the political spectrum; Sessions has been a deeply conservative Republican his entire life. But besides their age — both are 70 — Sessions shared one trait with Trump: He was an outsider, dismissed by much of the Republican Party as a fringe player on all but his signature issue, immigration. The two men unexpectedly bonded over their willingness to buck the establishment and the unlikely hope that lower-middle- and working-class voters would carry a billionaire to the White House.
Jeff Sessions, a native of tiny Hybert and a 1965 Wilcox County high school graduate who now resides in Mobile, It’s His Chance to Join the Exclusive Club Next Week When He Goes before the Senate Judiciary Committee for a two-day confirmation hearing regarding his nomination as the 84th U.S. Attorney General. “It’s as close to the Oval Office as you can get without occupying the Oval Office,” said Jess Brown, a retired political science professor at Athens State University and a longtime political observer and Alabama. “It’s a real plum for the state.” But Sessions confirmation hearings are likely to be contentious, and old wounds could resurface from 31 years ago, when a similar hearing before a previous judiciary committee torpedoed his nomination for a federal judgeship.
Two blocks from Jeff Sessions’ Senate office stands an unassuming red town house where he rubs shoulders with lobbyists and Washington power players, outside of public view. If there is a physical embodiment of the lobbying and influence peddling that Donald Trump has railed against, the 116 Club might be it. The private club’s roster is a closely guarded secret, but Sessions’ membership is evident from $25 monthly dues payments listed on his most recent campaign filings. It highlights for Sessions, an Alabama senator since 1997, his status as a Washington insider who is likely to cruise to confirmation as attorney general despite complaints from Democrats and civil rights leaders.
We, the people, the NAACP, are unapologetic in our response. Alabama is at a point of heartbreak, disappointment and even grieves the choice President-elect Donald Trump has made for U.S. Attorney General. We know that the U.S. Attorney General oversees all the federal prisons, that he or she is the Administrator for the Department of Justice, is the one who ensures accountability of law enforcement officers and authority figures and is the one who ensures that justice is fairly waved to subject each of us accountable under the law and, not just the poor, not the people of color, but us all. We cannot trust Jeff Sessions. Every walk of life rejected his nomination to the federal judiciary decades ago. His record of racism, his false claims of civil rights work, and his opposition to civil and human rights has and is following him.
Daily Caller — Democrats Face Uphill Battle Blocking Jeff Sessions
Democrats are unlikely to impede confirmation of Sen. Jeff Sessions as attorney general, even if this week’s confirmation hearings are heavily antagonistic. Sessions will appear before the Senate Committee on the Judiciary for several days beginning Tuesday. While committee Democrats may succeed in landing political wins against the Alabama senator, none are likely to significantly obstruct confirmation proceedings. The senator’s biggest asset in what otherwise could have been a grueling fight for the top spot at the U.S. Department of Justice is his congeniality. In a Congress fraught with distrust and partisan entrenchment, Sessions’ Southern charm is a welcome break from the usual culture of venom Capitol Hill, and a boon to his confirmation prospects.
Boston Globe — Patrick Leahy: Jeff Sessions, an extremist then and now
On Tuesday morning, the Senate Judiciary Committee will meet in a caucus room that has been the site for such historic events as the Watergate hearings, and Senator John Kennedy’s presidential campaign announcement. This ornate room has since been named for my friend, the late Senator Ted Kennedy, and more recently senators have met in this room for the confirmation hearings of Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts and Attorney General Eric Holder. As senators prepare to gather in the Kennedy Caucus Room for the confirmation hearings of Senator Jeff Sessions to be attorney general of the United States, I cannot help but wonder what Ted would think. Thirty years ago, he said this about the current nominee who was pending before the committee as a nominee to be a district court judge: “Mr. Sessions is a throwback to a shameful era which I know both black and white Americans thought was in our past. It is inconceivable to me that a person of this attitude is qualified to be a U.S. attorney, let alone a U.S. federal judge. He is, I believe, a disgrace to the Justice Department and he should withdraw his nomination and resign his position.” (Senator Edward Kennedy, March 13, 1986)
The Washington Post — Jeff Sessions should have been a tough sell in the Senate, but he’s too nice
President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee for attorney general voted to impeach President Bill Clinton, opposed President Obama’s Supreme Court nominees and led the opposition to a 2013 bipartisan immigration bill. He was also denied a federal judgeship 30 years ago — by the Senate — amid allegations that as U.S. attorney he had improperly prosecuted black voting rights activists and used racially intemperate language. But here’s something else to know about Sessions: He is one of the more well-liked members of the Senate, a place that still retains elements of one of the world’s most exclusive clubs. He is genial, respectful and patient toward colleagues and staff. And that has given fellow Republicans and even some Democrats reason not to scrutinize the more unsavory allegations of his political history. Take Sen. Susan Collins, a moderate Republican from Maine who, under other circumstances, might be a target for Democrats to peel off in hopes of defeating Sessions’ nomination. Instead, she’s his lead spokeswoman.
Instead of grilling a potential nominee, Sessions himself will be the main course as he faces his former colleagues … A source familiar with his preparation says Sessions has been working hard since before Christmas on intense prep sessions and while he has spent time this week meeting with senators, he had a so-called “murder board” or mock hearing practice Friday. Lawyers who have worked in the past for the Judiciary Committee are helping him get ready. Democratic senators are likely to ask him about a broad range of civil rights and civil liberties issues. Confirmation hearings are a rite of passage for potential nominees. They can become a blistering showdown with vigorous back and forth that can be the death knell of a nominee. Other times, they feature searching questions and lighthearted moments. Every once in a while, they are snoozers. This will not be a snoozer.
Washington Times — Why the Tea Party Patriots backs Jeff Sessions
For conservatives, however, our more sophisticated test for the Attorney General is multifaceted. We want to know, for example, if the nominee would rigorously defend the Constitution. Would he or she steadfastly uphold the rule of law? President Obama’s two Attorneys General — Eric Holder and Loretta Lynch — have demonstrated over the past eight years the dangers of what happens when a political agenda trumps the rule of law at a rogue Justice Department. From conservatives’ perspective, a faithful devotion to the rule of law, as enshrined in our Constitution, is the sine qua non for an Attorney General. Here, too, Sen. Sessions performs exceedingly well.
American Spectator — Senator Jeff Sessions: A great choice to run USDOJ
Sessions’ experience as a U.S. Attorney and an Assistant U.S. Attorney will help him run the Department. In those positions, he was on the receiving end of directives from Washington. Some of those directives may have made sense in Mobile and the Southern District of Alabama, but others likely consumed the attention of the office without any apparent benefit. Moreover, Assistant U.S. Attorneys are on the front lines of charging and prosecuting criminal violations of the laws of the United States. Likewise, Sessions’ service on the Senate Judiciary Committee will help him hit the ground running. He has seen the Department’s attorneys respond to questions about their work and has reviewed documents relating to it. He will be familiar with most or all of its many parts. Finally, Sessions’ time as Attorney General of Alabama demonstrates his skill in running a smaller office with a number of moving parts.