Further Comments Of Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) On Senator Jeff Sessions’ Nomination To Be The Attorney General Of The United States

“I have made clear the issues that especially concern me as the Senate considers Senator Sessions’ nomination to be Attorney General of the United States.  The Attorney General serves as the chief law enforcement officer in the country.  The Attorney General must be independent and fair.  The Attorney General must be deeply committed to the rule of law and must ensure that all people are treated equally before the law.  This means that he or she is also the chief protector of civil rights and civil liberties for everyone in our Nation.  That has never been more important than in this moment, when hate crimes have spiked across the country, especially against Muslim and LGBTQ Americans.  And when we have a President-elect who has proposed religious tests, a return to torture, and a deportation force that threatens to remove millions of immigrants.

“Senator Sessions and I have had significant disagreements over the years, particularly on civil rights, voting rights, immigration and criminal justice issues.  But unlike Republicans’ practice of unprecedented obstruction of President Obama’s nominees, I believe nominees deserve a full and fair process before the Senate.  The American people deserve to learn about Senator Sessions’ record at the public Senate Judiciary Committee hearing.

“Therefore it is especially and increasingly troubling that less than one week before hearings are set to begin, Senator Sessions still has not been fully responsive to the Senate Judiciary Committee regarding his nomination.  As a former ranking member of this Committee, Senator Sessions is well aware of the seriousness with which this Committee takes the confirmation process.  This includes nominees providing senators with all the materials necessary to fairly evaluate a nominee’s record, including responsive materials required by the Committee questionnaire.  However, my staff continues to find missing materials in public searches.  For example, it appears that Senator Sessions has not produced any interviews during his time as Alabama Attorney General or as U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Alabama.  Production of these materials is anything but a new requirement; it is a crucial and longstanding practice of the Judiciary Committee.  

“I hope we can expect that before our hearing begins next Tuesday, every effort will be taken to ensure that we have all that we need to move forward in considering Senator Sessions’ nomination.”    

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