Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Live Blogging Attorney General Confirmation Hearing for Sen. Jeff Sessions on C-Span 3 ... by gimleteye

9:28AM Protesters against Sessions wearing KKK hoods appear in audience opposing Jeff Sessions and are escorted out. One says, "Listen to Black Lives Matter."

9:30AM Sessions shaking hands ... signs held in back of chamber by silent protesters.

9:31 Media scrum takes framing shots of smiling Sessions.

9:32 Hearing gaveled to order.

9:32 Senate Judiciary Committee convenes ... introduction by Sen. Leahy (VT) acknowledges Sen. Feinstein as ranking member of committee. Chair Chuck Grassley sets out ground rules.

9:35 Grassley says he is prepared to keep the hearing going, so long as there are any questions from committee members.

9:37 Grassley, "We know him well." Grassley: "We pretty well know if he supports or opposes your policy positions ... "Wonderful to work with" ... "A man of his word" ... Dems have said of Sessions: "Always a gentleman, straightforward and fair". He is a leader who has served Alabama and all Americans with integrity, dedication and courage.

9:39 Grassley, quotes Schumer: "Move forward soon." "Not a vote against President Trump's policies".

9:40 Grassley laying it on thicker and thicker; let's get this done. Approve Sessions. Reads Sessions' bio.

9:41 Grassley: Sessions served 15 years in department he will now head. (click to read, more)

9:42 Camera stays on Sessions, smiling and holding a child in his lap.

9:44 Grassley faults Obama AG for failing to enforce laws that Obama didn't like. Sessions respects the law. The AG is a law enforcer.

9:46 Grassley says Sessions has supported as member of judiciary committee, the independence of the AG Office.

9:47 Grassley, Session has "firm grip on separation of powers". Grassley condemns Obama for violating the separation of powers through the AG office.

9:49 Ranking minority member Diane Feinstein speaks.

9:53 Feinstein speaks to the role of the AG: prosecute polluters based on following the law. This is an awesome responsibility and an enormous job. What type of AG will Sessions be if confirmed. "There is so much fear in this country, I hear it, I see it, particularly in the African American community".

9:54 Feinstein: Sessions has advocated an extremely conservative agenda.

9:58 Feinstein: Deep fear about Trump future, and this is the context we should consider Sessions role in a new America. Can people rely on the DOJ to protect their freedoms? The committee has received letters of opposition from 1400 law professors, from 400 community organizations, 70 reproductive health organizations: all these letters express deep anxiety about the direction of the country and whether this nominee will enforce the law without personal bias. Can this man separate himself from Trump and his record?

10:00 Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL) introduces Sessions. More biography on Sen. Sessions 20 year record in Senate. Jeff's political opponents have attacked his record with baseless charges. Integrity, humility and gravity is unquestionable. He will apply law with impartiality.

10:02 Protesters in background are escorted out. Support Civil Rights!

10:03 Sen. Susan Collins: Sessions a trusted colleague and good friend. A person of integrity, principled leader ... has worked across the aisle. Jeff Sessions is the same genuine, fair-minded person in private moments as in the halls of the Senate. Collins affirms Sessions pro-minority/ African American credentials. Collins: he has had to sustain painful attacks on his character.

10:08 Collins: Keep Arlen Specter high opinion of Sessions in mind. I have every confidence that Sessions that he will execute the responsibilities of the office fairly and equitably.

10:10 Sessions takes mic. More protesters shouting in the back of chamber. Escorted out.

10:17 You know who I am. I am a man of my word. Can be trusted. I revere the Constitution and committed to the rule of law. Equal justice under the law. I love the DOJ. It is not a normal political office. He or she must be committed to following the law. Must be committed to tell the president if he or she overreach.

10:20 Worries about large increase in crime rates across the nation. Unsafe! Heroin epidemic! Tripling on overdose. Illegal immigration brings violence, addiction and misery! Crimes being committed against real people, real victims. These trends cannot continue. If I am confirmed, we will systematically prosecute criminals who commit crimes with guns. Dismantle criminal gangs! Confront these crimes vigorously and immediately!

10:22 Law enforcement has been unfairly maligned. They believe they have become targets and abandoned. Number of police officers killed 10 percent in last year! This is a wake up call, colleagues. We must re-establish the partnership between federal and state officers of the law. Make no mistake, police when they fail must be held accountable. If confirmed, protecting the American people from the scourge of radical Islamic terrorism will be central for the DOJ. Cybersecurity. Civil rights are a special priority. Access to the ballot for every eligible voter and to ensure integrity of elections. This govt. must protect the Treasury from fraud and abuse. If confirmed, I will make it a high priority to prosecute fraud and false claims. No one is above the law. No American will be beneath its protections. Compliments DOJ personnel throughout the nation. I pledge a unity of effort that is unmatched.

10:30 Sessions addresses charges of racial bias. Accused in 1986, voter fraud case. I was condemned and accused of supporting the KKK. Explains that he was misunderstood, misinterpreted. His detractors were plain wrong. I abhor the clan and what it represents and its hateful ideology. I have supported civil rights consistently. I never declared the NAACP was illigitimate organization.

10:35 We must continue to move forward on civil rights and never back. LGBT communities must be protected according to the law. Women's abuse. All my actions must fall within the bounds of the Constitution. We will do this job right.

10:36 Sessions wraps up.

10:39 Grassley. How do you address public anxiety about Trump? Sessions: I do believe that if the AG is asked to do something that is plainly unlawful, he would have to resign. Have to resist improper unacceptable actions. Grassley: you have 20 years experience in Senate. I have had disagreements with the DOJ for failing to perform fundamental functions to enforce the law. What will your approach be to ensure the dept. enforces the law and your vision for the AG. Sessions: must follow Constitution and carry its principles out.

10:43 Sessions: I will separate the roles that I have had, to go from executive legislative branch to the executive branch. Grassley: you made a number of statements about Hillary Clinton and emails and actions of Clinton Foundation. I was critical as were millions of Americans. In light of those comments you made, some have expressed concern whether you can address concerns of impartiality. Sessions: I made comments with regard to Secty. Clinton, I do believe those comments could place my objectivity in question. I would recuse myself from any investigations that involve Secty Clinton or otherwise connected to it. Grassley: when you say you will recuse, you will actually recuse and the decision would therefor fall to a depty atty general? Sessions: I would officially recuse. This country doesn't not punish its political enemies but dos ensure than no one is above the law.

10:49 Sessions: Executive branch needs to be held accountable.

10:50 Questions begin from judiciary committee.

11:17 Leahy: do you still believe women and LGBT don't have the same issues as under the protections of the 2009 Hate Crimes Act? Sessions: I believed that we didn't have a problem that required expansion of federal powers where the state was sufficiently handling prosecutions. Leahy: in 2010 you stated that extending hate crimes protection to LGBT was unwarranted. Sessions: I will enforce the current law. Congress has spoken. Leahy: Trump has asserted his interest in a ban against Muslim immigration to the US. Do you agreee with Trump that the US should deny immigration based on a particular religion? Sessions: Trump has amended his statement to suggest a policy a strong vetting of Muslims from particular countries.

11:25 Lindsay Graham addresses state versus federal rights. We have a good reason to think that the states do better than federal authority. Immigration, Sessions believes Congress should pass laws and not issue executive orders. Threats to homeland are growing. I support GITMO to keep prisoners. It should be utilized and I have opposed ... more protesters are ejected from hearing. Shouting no, KKK. Cyber attacks. Sessions only knows what he reads about Russian hacking. Sessions answers, no reason to dispute FBI assessment on Russian hacking. Sessions: Russian hacking is a significant event. Not just Russia. China too. Graham: how do you feel about being called a racist or bigot. Sessions: there was an organized effort in 1986 to oppose me. It was very painful. The caricature created of me was not accurate then and it was not accurate now. As a southerner who saw discrimination and have no doubt it was organized in a systematic way against a great many people, I know it was wrong. Totally committed to maintain our laws.

11:37 Senator Durban (D-IL). Uses example of Alton Mills, receiving a life sentence for dealing crack cocaine. Spent 22 years in prison, no prior offense. Durban: You said President Obama continues to abuse presidential power to systematically pardon high level drug dealers. Sessions: I was criticized in 2001 for trying to propose the same by the Bush WH. I said on the floor of the Senate the laws were too harsh. Durbin presses him on thousands of prisoners who are denied retroactivity on lowered mandatory minimums. Sessions doesn't back down. Durbin: Sessions you have voted against every immigration act that has come before the US Senate. Sessions: we need to create a lawful system of immigration, and I believe that is right and just. Durbin: what would happen to those 800,000 dreamers protected by Obama's executive order. What will happen if you revoke that order, what is the humane answer to that. Sessions: the best thing for us to do, let's fix this system. Durbin: does not answer the question about 800,000 while we are waiting in Congress on bill you opposed.

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