In response to questions and testimony delivered on the first day of hearings on the nomination of Senator Jeff Sessions to be Attorney General, 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.”
People For the American Way is a progressive advocacy organization founded to fight right-wing extremism and defend constitutional values including free expression, religious liberty, equal justice under the law, and the right to meaningfully participate in our democracy.