Senate Judiciary Democrats Request Sessions Testimony on False Statements, Russia Contacts
(Democrat - California)
All nine Senate Judiciary Committee Democrats today requested that Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) call Attorney General Jeff Sessions to appear before the committee to answer questions about false statements during his confirmation process and contacts with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak.
The senators wrote, “The Attorney General’s responses to our questions during his confirmation process were, at best, incomplete and misleading. Given the seriousness of this matter, we do not believe that a written submission to correct the record is sufficient. Members need to hear directly from the Attorney General as well as have the opportunity to ask him questions in public.”
Full text of the letter follows:
Sen. Leahy: Attorney General Sessions’ Partial Recusal Does Not Go Far Enough
(Democrat - Vermont)
"He must appear in public before the Senate Judiciary Committee to explain why he twice gave misleading testimony under oath and why he failed to disclose such false testimony until prompted by news reports. Such conduct is unacceptable from our nation’s top law enforcement official.... There must be an independent special counsel to investigate Russia’s meddling in our election"
Sen. Merkley Statement on Jeff Sessions’ Nomination as Attorney General
(Democrat - Oregon)
“In his years in the Senate, Jeff Sessions has been a vehement opponent of LGBTQ rights, opposing the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Act and the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. And he has continued to advocate for voter suppression, despite the fact that our nation is founded on voter empowerment, even cheering the Supreme Court’s gutting of the Voting Rights Act as ‘good news for the South.' Jeff Sessions’ record is not that of a man who will champion ‘liberty and justice for all,’ and that is why I oppose his nomination to this key post.”
Sen. Mark Warner on Confirmation of Jeff Sessions as Attorney General
(Democrat - Virginia)
Senator Warner spoke on the floor of the U.S. Senate in opposition to the nomination. Video of that speech is available here. [LINK] Audio is available here. [LINK] “The Attorney General is charged with impartially and independently enforcing our nation’s laws and protecting the civil rights of all Americans. These are solemn responsibilities, and though I opposed this nomination, I will hold Senator Sessions accountable for executing them faithfully as Attorney General.”
Sen. Sherrod Brown Reads Letter from Dr. King Window in Protest Against Senator Warren's Censure
(Democrat - Ohio)
“It’s a sad day for democracy when the words of Coretta Scott King are not allowed on the floor of the U.S. Senate,” Brown said. “If we allow open, honest debate to be silenced, we are not doing our jobs.”
Brown was the first Senator to announce he would vote against Sessions, citing Sessions record on civil rights, voting rights and his oppositions to efforts to improve police-community relations.
King wrote the letter read by Senators this week in opposition to Sessions’ appointment as a federal judge in 1986.
SEN. TESTER STANDS WITH MONTANANS IN OPPOSING ATTORNEY GENERAL NOMINEE JEFF SESSIONS
(Democrat - Montana)
"I will not back a nominee who supports the most intrusive aspects of the PATRIOT Act and refuses to support survivors of domestic violence," Tester said. "Mr. Sessions has proven that he will not protect our individual freedoms and he won't stand up for those who can't speak for themselves. I am proud to stand with thousands of Montanans who value their right to privacy and protections for women and children."
Sen. Murray on Attorney General Nominee Before Final Vote: “Senator Sessions is Not the Attorney General This Country Needs”
(Democrat - Washington)
Murray has received 14,000 letters and emails and over 5,000 calls from people in Washington state, opposing Sessions by a wide margin due to his record on civil rights, voting rights, LGBTQ rights, and more
Murray: Oppose Sessions to “Send a message to [President Trump] who, just weeks into his term, has displayed shocking disdain for the U.S. Constitution and the separation of powers”
ICYMI— Senator Elizabeth Warren silenced on the Senate floor last night by Republicans when speaking against Sessions’ nomination —LINK
Murray: “The stakes are too high to make Senator Sessions our next Attorney General”
SEN. WHITEHOUSE STATEMENT ON SESSIONS CONFIRMATION
(Democrat - Rhode Island)
“I voted ‘no’ today because of Rhode Islanders’ serious concerns about Senator Sessions’s record on immigration, civil rights, protections for women, religious tolerance, and offense to broad groups of Americans. But, most of all, I voted ‘no’ because I do not have adequate confidence that he will fight for the Department’s mission when necessary with this President.”
Sen. Feinstein: Republicans Shutting Down Senator Warren ‘Indefensible’
(Democrat - California)
“In 1986, Coretta Scott King wrote a powerful letter expressing her belief that Jeff Sessions lacked the ‘requisite judgment, competence and sensitivity to the rights guaranteed by the federal civil rights laws’ to serve as a federal judge.
“Coretta Scott King was a voice worth hearing in 1986 and her opinion certainly remains relevant and valid today.
“For Republicans to shut down Senator Warren when she tried to read Coretta Scott King’s letter is indefensible. That action is even more offensive because they allowed her male colleagues to read the exact same passages without batting an eye.”
Senator Markey Reads Coretta Scott King Letter During Senate Debate on Nomination of Senator Jeff Sessions for U.S. Attorney General
(Democrat - Massachusetts)
“Senator Warren deserves an apology for being silenced when she attempted to share this very relevant, very powerful part of our national history last night,” said Senator Markey in his remarks. “And the American people deserve to hear the important words of Coretta Scott King.”
“Coretta Scott King was right in the 1960s. Coretta Scott King was right in 1986. Coretta Scott King is right today.
“Based on the totality of Senator Sessions’ record, I have no confidence that he shares a commitment to justice for all Americans,” concluded Senator Markey. “I do not believe he will fight to defend the most vulnerable in our society. I do not believe he will stand up to President Trump when the time comes, as it surely will.”
Sen. Bennet Votes to Oppose Jeff Sessions Nomination
(Democrat - Colorado)
"The President is entitled to choose his team," Bennet continued. "But, the Attorney General, more than any other cabinet official, must be the people's lawyer, an advocate for the rule of law above all else."
"It's clear from the nearly 23,000 calls and emails my office has received that Senator Sessions has not earned the confidence of many Coloradans who may soon rely on him to protect their rights and identify abuses of Constitutional power."
Sen. Warren: Letter from Coretta Scott King About Jeff Sessions
(Democrat - Massachusetts)
On February 7, 2017, Senator Warren attempted to read the text of a 1986 letter from Coretta Scott King about the nomination of Jeff Sessions for a federal judgeship. The text of the letter is available below, or to download as a PDF here.
Sen. Duckworth Votes Against Jeff Sessions for Attorney General
(Democrat - Illinois)
“America needs a forceful advocate for fairness in its next Attorney General—someone who will fight for justice for all people—not a rubberstamp for the President. Unfortunately, Senator Sessions’ record and refusal to recuse himself from voting on other Trump nominees proves he will not be that person. Senator Sessions voted against extending hate crime protections to Americans who are targeted because of their gender, disability or sexual orientation. He argued for religious discrimination against Muslims. He wanted to pass a constitutional amendment outlawing same-sex marriage and criticized legal protections for people with disabilities as ‘irritating’ and ‘unnecessary.’ I am disappointed that Senator Sessions will now be in a position to erode the civil rights countless Americans bled to protect. I worry about what his Department of Justice will mean for our neighbors with disabilities, Americans of all sexual orientations, people of color and others who have historically been denied equal protection under our nation’s laws when public officials entrusted to enforce those protections turned a blind eye.”
Sen. Menendez: I Will Vote Against Sen. Sessions for AG
(Democrat - New Jersey)
“We need an Attorney General who will be an unconditional champion of the constitutional rights of all Americans. I am not convinced that Senator Sessions is willing to defend the Constitution in a fair and just manner to advance equality for every community or exercise balanced judgment on immigration law. This imbalance in Senator Sessions’ record is something that I was not able to overlook, and having heard from thousands of concerned constituents, I cast my vote against his nomination today."
Sen. Heitkamp to Oppose Sessions for Attorney General
(Democrat - North Dakota)
“I respect Jeff Sessions as a colleague and for his distinguished service in the Senate. But the job of U.S. Attorney General, serving as the nation’s chief law enforcement officer, is about how a person will handle this massive responsibility,” said Heitkamp. “I have serious concerns about Senator Sessions’ opposition to landmark legislation in 2013 that protects victims of domestic violence, including protections I advocated for Native American women. He has pushed back against voting rights throughout his career. He has supported some of the most controversial provisions of the Patriot Act that create serious privacy issues for American citizens – and in some cases he did not even believe the law went far enough. Finally, as Attorney General, Senator Sessions will serve as the people’s lawyer, not the president’s lawyer. But I’m worried he will not be an independent voice from the president as the job requires, and will instead defend all pieces of the president’s agenda without question – whether constitutional or not.”
On Senate Floor, Shaheen Cites Deep Concerns with Sessions’ Record, Says “Senate Should Not Confirm Him”
(Democrat - New Hampshire)
“We need an Attorney General who will not only insist on equal enforcement of the laws, but who has a passion for pursuing justice and fairness for all Americans, as well as for those who want to visit or immigrate to our country. In my view, Senator Sessions has failed to demonstrate that commitment. Indeed, I fear that, as Attorney General, he would affirm and encourage President Trump’s most troubling tendencies, especially with regard to minorities, women, and immigrants. Senator Sessions is the wrong person for the critically important post of United States Attorney General. I will vote against his confirmation.”
Sen. Leahy Comment On Partisan Attacks On The Federal Judiciary
(Democrat - Vermont)
“We need an Attorney General, like Acting Attorney General Sally Yates, willing to lose his or her job to do the right thing. And we need a nominee for the Supreme Court willing to demonstrate he or she will not cower to an overreaching executive. This makes it even more important that Judge Gorsuch, and every other judge this president may nominate, demonstrates the ability to be an independent check and balance on an administration that shamefully and harmfully seems to reject the very concept.”
Sen. Donnelly to Oppose Attorney General Nominee Jeff Sessions
(Democrat - Indiana)
“I have great respect for local law enforcement, as well as the role that the Department of Justice plays in enforcing federal law. I have always believed that the men and women who go to work every day in order to protect our communities deserve the support and resources they need to keep our communities safe. I also recognize that the Justice Department plays a critical role in protecting the rights and freedoms guaranteed in the U.S. Constitution and under our laws, and it is important that all Americans have faith in the Department’s ability to uphold our nation’s commitment to equal justice under law. I am concerned that the wide range of opposition to Senator Sessions’ nomination from civil rights advocates, including many Hoosiers, will impede Senator Sessions’ ability to work effectively with many communities across the country to carry out the important mission of the Justice Department. I am also concerned Senator Sessions will support recent actions taken by the administration on refugees and visa holders. For these reasons, I am unable to support his nomination to be the Attorney General.
“Though I will be not be voting for Senator Sessions, I will continue to work hard for the law enforcement officers who put their lives on the line every day. More specifically, I will continue to support the many important programs run out of the Justice Department that provide grants and other resources to our law enforcement officers, such as, the Bulletproof Vest Partnership grant program, which helped purchase 143,621 lifesaving vests for officers in 2016 and the Byrne Justice Assistance Grant program, which makes funding available to states, cities, and counties to support critical task forces, crime prevention programs, and many other law enforcement activities.”
Sen. Tom Udall to Vote Against Jeff Sessions for Attorney General
(Democrat - New Mexico)
"The Attorney General has a solemn responsibility to defend the constitutional rights of Americans of all genders, sexual orientations, races, religions, and backgrounds. That means working to solve the very real concerns and grievances about law enforcement felt by many people in Albuquerque and across the country. It also means standing up for the rights of immigrant families. And it means curtailing invasive, unconstitutional invasions of privacy and illegal spying programs against law-abiding American citizens. On each of these issues, I find Senator Sessions' record and positions to be misguided. ..."
Sen. Peters Statement Opposing Sen. Jeff Sessions Nomination for Attorney General
(Democrat - Michigan)
“The U.S. Attorney General is responsible for protecting the civil rights of all Americans, and I do not believe that Senator Sessions’ past positions and comments are consistent with carrying out that duty. He has denigrated respected civil rights organizations like the NAACP. He also fiercely opposed legislative efforts to protect voting rights and shield women and LGBT Americans from domestic and sexual violence—laws that he would be required to enforce as Attorney General.
“Furthermore, the U.S. Attorney General’s first loyalty must be to our Constitution and the rule of law, not the President’s personal political interests. Given his involvement with a number of recent executive orders that run counter to our fundamental American values, I am not confident that Senator Sessions will maintain the Justice Department’s independence or stand up to President Trump’s harmful policies.
“Senator Sessions’ record of positions shows a disregard for laws that safeguard Americans’ most fundamental rights, and I cannot support his nomination to be our nation’s highest law enforcement officer.”
Sen. Kaine To Oppose Jeff Sessions For Attorney General
(Democrat - Virginia)
“I was a civil rights lawyer for 17 years and know that one of the most important roles of the Justice Department is to protect civil rights. This calls for an Attorney General whose commitment to marginalized communities is strong in both word and deed. Unfortunately, Senator Sessions has a long, public record that reflects the opposite. He has called the Voting Rights Act ‘intrusive’ and has demonstrated a poor commitment to desegregating schools in his home state of Alabama. At a time when there is a dire need for improved relationships between law enforcement and the communities they serve, I do not feel that someone with Senator Sessions’s history on these issues would play a constructive role in safeguarding civil rights and improving race relations as head of the Justice Department.
“In addition, I have concerns about Senator Sessions’s support for the extreme interrogation techniques used during the Bush Administration. Senator Sessions’s statements about waterboarding and his votes against prohibiting the use of torture do not convince me that a Justice Department under his leadership would uphold American values regarding the decent and humane treatment of detainees.
“While I respect Senator Sessions as a colleague and have had the pleasure to work alongside him on the Armed Services Committee, I will oppose his nomination to be Attorney General.”
Sen. Whitehouse Votes ‘No’ on Sessions in Judiciary Committee
(Democrat - Rhode Island)
“Senator Sessions has a long history of demonstrated, open hostility for bedrock civil rights laws, and failed repeatedly to vigorously distance himself from extremist hate groups that hold him up as a champion of their perverse ideologies,” said Whitehouse in a prepared statement at the Committee meeting.