On Tuesday, [today] the Senate Judiciary Committee is scheduled to begin confirmation hearings for Jeff Sessions, President-elect Donald Trump's pick for attorney general.
It will be the first of a slew of hearings Senate Republicans are trying to ram through this week, many for ultra-wealthy nominees whose tangled financial interests are nowhere near being fully vetted by ethics officials.
If anyone requires a thorough vetting, it's Mr. Sessions, the Republican senator from Alabama who trails behind him a toxic cloud of hostility to racial equality, voting rights, women's rights, criminal justice reform and other issues at the heart of the Justice Department's mandate.
Yet in their eagerness to act on his nomination, Senate Republicans seem unconcerned that Mr. Sessions, who has made appropriate financial disclosures, has failed to turn over dozens — possibly hundreds — of documents that the committee specifically requests in its standard questionnaire, including transcripts of speeches, interviews, opinion pieces and other public remarks.
Mr. Sessions, who has suggested that judicial nominees may be committing crimes when they withhold relevant information from the Senate, now gives laughable explanations for the truck-size holes in his own résumé. He has said that there is no record of the vast majority of interviews he has given over the years, but a quick Google search disproves that. He failed to mention, for example, a visit to Fox & Friends in October, days after the release of tapes revealing Mr. Trump bragging about sexual assault. During that interview, Mr. Sessions called the outraged reaction to the tapes "overblown" and said, "Everybody knows that Trump likes women."
He also appears to have forgotten about many interviews he gave to Breitbart News, the far-right nationalist website. Breitbart's executive chairman, Stephen Bannon, left that organization to run Mr. Trump's campaign, and is now the president-elect's top strategist.
According to a report compiled by several outside advocacy groups, Mr. Sessions provided the committee with clips of only 11 print interviews, none of which appeared before 2003.
Most concerning is the glaring absence of material from his earlier years in public office, in the 1980s and 1990s, when he served as Alabama's top federal prosecutor and then as the state's attorney general.
The period includes the biggest political embarrassment of his career: the Senate's rejection, in 1986, of his nomination to a federal judgeship by President Ronald Reagan. It was only the second time in half a century that the judiciary committee turned down a judicial nominee.
Why such an extraordinary move? Because testimony from multiple former colleagues of Mr. Sessions suggested he was racist. In one case, Mr. Sessions referred to the American Civil Liberties Union and the N.A.A.C.P. as "un-American" for "trying to force civil rights down the throats of people." (Mr. Sessions made no mention of the failed nomination in his response to the judiciary committee questionnaire, which specifically asks for that information.)
It's bad enough that Mr. Sessions is trying to hide from the American people the things he said and did from that era.
Even worse, he's now recasting himself as a civil-rights hero who "personally" litigated several major voting rights and desegregation cases — a myth that Justice Department lawyers who dealt with him at the time have been quick to debunk, saying he "had no substantive involvement in any of them."
Despite Mr. Sessions's insultingly incomplete responses to the committee, the burden remains on him to show he is fit to serve in such an influential post. His failure to do so may not deter Republicans, who appear to care only about getting their friend and colleague confirmed quickly.
In contrast, when the Democrats controlled the Senate in 2009, they agreed to delay confirmation hearings for Mr. Obama's nominee for attorney general, Eric Holder Jr.
This sets up the firstbig test of Democrats' willingness to push back against Mr. Trump's radical cabinet picks. Dianne Feinstein, the committee's ranking Democrat, needs to take the lead in ensuring that Americans know as much as possible about the man who would be the nation's top law-enforcement official. The attorney general is too important an office, and Mr. Sessions's views are too extreme — as Republicans themselves saw 30 years ago — to allow his nomination to sail through without a fight.
This editorial appeared on January 9, 2017
January 10, 2017
Addendum. What you can do to stop Sessions' appointment.
Get on the phone. Get your Senators and Representatives numbers by texting your zip code to (520) 200-2223.
We need 3 Repug Senators to block him or 2 if he doesn't vote for himself.
Call your GOP Senators and Reps and tell them to block Sessions. Tell them you will unelect them as well as all local GOP officials if they don't reject Sessions. Remind them there are elections each year locally and then comes 2018.
If your Senator is a Republican, find their passion and commitments and rouse them.
If your own Senator is not a Republican, use "Find My Friends in [name of State]" in search on FB for friends who live in Iowa or any state where a Repubican Senator might defect and vote against Sessions.
Ask your friends to post what you request to others who live in that state. Give your friend and his/her friends the phone number to call to either warn or encourage the targeted Senator on the vote against Sessions.
Ask any Elected Official to ask Sessions to recuse himself from his own confirmation. Hillary and Kerry did this.
Grassley is refusing to allow the Democrats to have more than 4 speakers on Sessions. Demand fair hearings on Sessions and others. Threaten him that we will turn Iowa blue and stop all GOP candidates locally. Phone 515-288-1145.
Susan Collins of Maine wrote an op-ed in August saying she would not vote for Trump. She is a strong supporter against domestic violence and sexual assault and for gender equality. Remind her how anti-women he is. Susan Collins' phone number : (207) 622-8414
Lisa Murkowski of Alaska (202)-224-6665)has been pro-woman (supported abortion rights) and should be a target to defect and vote against Sessions who clearly won't defend abortion clinics..
Jeff Flake: One of the most outspoken Trump foes in the Senate, Could be enlisted in this effort by Collins. 202-224-4521
Joni Ernst, Iowa. A Trump supporter but during her college years Ernst volunteered at a safe house for battered and abused women and children in Ames, Iowa. "Answering a beeper call at mostly inconvenient and late hours, Joni would head to a hospital, police station or safehouse to give comfort to a woman or child in need of support," She can be pressured on women's issues. Remind her. Phone: (515) 284-4574
Call your Democratic Representatives and tell them to press their Republican Senatorial colleagues. Tell them we expect them to be the Anti-T Party and fight Trump and Sessions, as the Tea Party and the GOP fought President Obama. Tell them you oppose Sessions who is qualified to be the People's lawyer, since he doesn't support the rights of all Americans.
We can win this. We stopped the House from gutting the Ethics Office last Tuesday. We can win again today. Share this.