November 18, 2016

The new Attorney General will be Jeff Sessions.

The NYT reports.
Mr. Sessions was also under consideration for secretary of defense, creating debate within the Trump transition team over which job he should fill.

Mr. Sessions, a former prosecutor elected to the Senate in 1996, serves on the Judiciary Committee and has opposed immigration reform as well as bipartisan proposals to cut mandatory minimum prison sentences....

While serving as a United States prosecutor in Alabama, Mr. Sessions was nominated in 1986 by President Ronald Reagan for a federal judgeship. But his nomination was rejected by the Republican-controlled Senate Judiciary Committee because of racially charged comments and actions. At that time, he was one of two judicial nominees whose selections were halted by the panel in nearly 50 years.
What were the "racially charged comments and actions" from decades ago and is it something that reflects on Trump now?
In testimony before the committee, former colleagues said that Mr. Sessions had referred to the N.A.A.C.P., the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and other civil rights groups as “un-American” and “Communist-inspired.” An African-American federal prosecutor then, Thomas H. Figures, said Mr. Sessions had referred to him as “boy” and testified that Mr. Sessions said the Ku Klux Klan was fine “until I found out they smoked pot.” Mr. Sessions dismissed that remark as a joke.
"That remark" refers to the KKK, presumably, and not to calling Thomas H. Figures "boy." Here's an article in The Guardian from 2009 (and thus disconnected from current efforts to heighten everything racial that has to do with Trump):
Sessions's first national exposure was, surely, mortifying for the would-be federal judge. It was 1986, and the then-39-year-old US attorney for the Southern District of Alabama was a Reagan nominee to the federal bench. Sessions had good reason to believe he'd be rubber-stamped through to a judgeship – some 200 of the Gipper's judges had already been heavily sprinkled throughout the federal judicial system. But Sessions stopped up the works. The young lawyer became only the second man in 50 years to be rejected by the Senate judiciary committee....

The tip of the problem was a 1984 case that came to be known as the "Marion 3" – Sessions's prosecution of three civil rights workers over what he perceived as voting fraud.... All three were quickly acquitted...

[S]everal other worrisome notes about the nominee came to light....
Senate Democrats tracked down a career justice department employee named J Gerald Hebert, who testified, albeit reluctantly, that in a conversation between the two men Sessions had labelled the National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People (NAACP) and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) "un-American" and "communist-inspired". Hebert said Sessions had claimed these groups "forced civil rights down the throats of people."

In his confirmation hearings, Sessions sealed his own fate by saying such groups could be construed as "un-American" when "they involve themselves in promoting un-American positions" in foreign policy. Hebert testified that the young lawyer tended to "pop off" on such topics regularly, noting that Sessions had called a white civil rights lawyer a "disgrace to his race" for litigating voting rights cases.
If that weren't enough, a black former assistant US attorney, Thomas Figures, testified that Sessions had called him "boy", and that he had joked about the Ku Klux Klan in ways that implied he wasn't particularly appalled by their appalling tactics. UPI reported during the hearings on Figures's testimony.
''Mr Sessions ... stated that he believed the NAACP, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, Operation PUSH and the National Council of Churches were all un-American organisations teaching anti-American values,'' Figures testified. ''The statement clearly was not intended as a joke.'' Figures also said he was present when Sessions said he believed the Ku Klux Klan was OK until he learned its members smoked marijuana – a statement Sessions has said was clearly made in jest. ''I certainly took it as a serious statement,'' Figures said.
Sessions fought the charges. As I wrote in 2002: "[He] denied the accusations but … admitted to frequently joking in an off-colour sort of way. In his defence, he said he was not a racist, pointing out that his children went to integrated schools and that he had shared a hotel room with a black attorney several times."

He did, however, also admit that he had called the Voting Rights Act of 1965 a "piece of intrusive legislation", a phrase he stood behind even in his confirmation hearings. To this day, he argues that Section five – a protective measure that concerns a handful of (mostly southern) states with appalling race histories – of the Voting Rights Act should be struck down.
The article is from 2009, as noted. The Supreme Court did, in fact, find that statutory provision unconstitutional in 2013, so Sessions's idea was not off the norm. Back to The Guardian:
Sessions's spot on the federal bench was gone. But his political career was hardly derailed. The Alabaman went on to become the state's attorney general (where he was again accused of pursuing voter fraud at the expense of the black community.

He won his Senate seat anyway, in 1996, and came to the Senate with the kind of rabid conservatism that today makes people feel the Republican party is out of touch with the country. The ACLU gives him an "anti-civil rights" sticker. The Human Rights Campaign dubs him an unambiguous "anti-gay rights" legislator with a 0% record on gay issues. And the NAACP labels him firmly "anti-affirmative action"....

Sessions lost his judicial nomination by a 10-8 vote, with the Democrats led by none other than a fire-breathing senator Joe Biden....
So... we're going to have to talk about race. Trump gave his opponents a opportunity to talk about race, and you know they're going to take it... bigly. Steel yourself.

Trump has a way of saying or doing just enough to trigger his opponents to go big on race. Here, Trump isn't saying anything racial at all, but he's made a move — in this long-term chess game with the press — that enables them to make it about race, and, of course, he must know that they will do it. Therefore, I infer that he wants them to do it. You might think he just believes Sessions is the best person for the job and Trump wants the best person regardless of the criticisms he expects to be hurled. I think it's a level beyond that. He sees an advantage in tangling the mainstream press up in the issue it loves far too much.

47 comments:

campy said...

Racist!!!

David Begley said...

Expect an epic confirmation battle. He was not confirmed as a federal judge because he is allegedly a racist. Left pulls out all of the stops here.

Interesting thought: His own vote could be decisive.

damikesc said...

Good choice, if true. My faith in the NYT infallibility is pretty low, though. I still hope for Cruz for SCOTUS.

Expect an epic confirmation battle. He was not confirmed as a federal judge because he is allegedly a racist. Left pulls out all of the stops here.

And, with it, the claim that ALL conservatives are racist will hurt. Them portraying Pickering as a racist is still shameful.

Michael K said...

Interesting. I wonder why he wanted it ?

Kristian Holvoet said...

Glad to see the times putting up the "He's a raaaaaacisr" in the first story about his assumed nomination.

campy said...

Interesting. I wonder why he wanted it ?

Tired of fundraising and campaigning?

rhhardin said...

Trump invited Romney over for coffee, too.

rhhardin said...

The job requires somebody not politically correct, or rule of law will never come back.

Michael K said...

The job requires somebody not politically correct, or rule of law will never come back.

Yes and I expect the Democrats to try a filibuster. Maybe its time for the nuclear option.

Tank said...

Probably will nominate him because he would be a great AG.

Curious George said...

"....Sessions lost his judicial nomination by a 10-8 vote, with the Democrats led by none other than a fire-breathing senator Joe Biden...."

Well no one is more expert on racism that Joe ""I mean, you got the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy and you cannot go to a 7-Eleven or a Dunkin’ Donuts unless you have a slight Indian accent" Biden. I'm sure he would be worries that Sessions would put black American's “back in chains.”

AprilApple said...

The left cannot articulate an argument other than "you're all racist" anyway.

David Begley said...

I've got to think Sessions would not have wanted the job unless he knows he has the votes. Which GOP Senator is going to vote against a fellow Senator?

Terry said...

Holder and Lynch put civil rights on the front burner and stirred the pot. How did that work out?

Luke Lea said...

Good if drawn out exploration of the "Trump is a racist" trope: https://goo.gl/Of6gZj

JPS said...

damikesc:

"Them portraying Pickering as a racist is still shameful."

Yep. And for all the disgust my fellow conservatives have for Lindsay Graham, I will always admire his Senate speech that ended with this:

"Do you know what it must have been like in 1967 to get on the stand and testify against the Ku Klux Klan in Mississippi? Do you have any idea what courage that took? Shame on you."

I didn't know this background on Sessions, however. I wonder if Trump didn't choose him just because he's so hard-line on illegal immigration, by way of showing he's serious, not knowing of the racial controversy that would surely follow.

traditionalguy said...

The Mexican Race are getting nervous. The Muslim conquistadors are getting nervous. They are going to have to join up with the Trump Party, where The Donald will welcome them all in.

Net Result: Democrats will cease to exist. That is Trump Chess.

Bay Area Guy said...

The Left is funny. We have serous law enforcement issues in 2016, but they'd rather focus on "inappropriate" comments made over 30 years ago. That's how they role.

Quaestor said...

Why would anybody in Trump's team talk to the NYT? I couldn't imagine a quicker way to get fired.

The whole thing may have been a loyalty test à la George Smiley to sniff out the press moles. The NYT is remarkably skilled at developing anonymous sources within Republican administrations. They use bribery, flattery, and blackmail to gain a hold on a highly placed staffer who once he breaks faith with the president is the Times' tool for as long as he is productive. It's an agent recruitment strategy straight out of the KGB manual of tradecraft.

Trump likes to claim he is the Master of Deal, which is just another and characteristically bombastic way to say he is skilled negotiator. One thing a skilled negotiator must be is inscrutable. The other side of a negotiation must never know beforehand what your bottom line is, otherwise you'll loose — the deal will benefit the man across the table more than it will benefit you. It's like poker. Confidentiality is indispensable.

The NYT is not Trump's friend. They will undermine his deals if they can, and the easiest way to do that is too prove to all concerned that confidentiality is in their hands and not his.

Greg said...

http://streetwiseprofessor.com/?p=10254 It's called the 'Lie Swarm' You can expect the media to coordinate and call everyone racist no matter how long ago and how trivial or disconnected an 'incident' was.

David Begley said...

I also wouldn't be surprised to learn that some of the witnesses from that first hearing are now deceased. That means reading transcripts. Maybe. That will bomb on TV.

MSNBC now in full dirt digging mode.

Carter Wood said...

Attacking Jeff Sessions on race is laying the foundation for an even more heated attack when he attempts to clean up the Office of Civil Rights, the most politicized office in the entire federal government. See von Spakovsky, Adams, "Exclusive: Meet the Radical Lawyers the DOJ Hired to Oversee Elections."

Kristian Holvoet said...

Yes and I expect the Democrats to try a filibuster. Maybe its time for the nuclear option.

Didn't Harry Reid nuke this?

Mike said...

Excellent pick. I'm going to like Trump's Team.

Guildofcannonballs said...

Nuclear option is propaganda talk.

Constitutional option, please.

Hatch don't like it he should get the fuck out, the old asshole.

rehajm said...

Yes and I expect the Democrats to try a filibuster. Maybe its time for the nuclear option.

Do not expect traditional obstruction tactics to be in play. The key GOP players know they risk owning the do nothing label if they capitulate. Thanks to Uncle Harry the nuclear option genie is out of the bottle and reconciliation will be stretched like a bungee.

Alexander said...

Expect an epic confirmation battle. He was not confirmed as a federal judge because he is allegedly a racist. Left pulls out all of the stops here.

Oh, I don't think so. Reid did the nuclear option, we're going to do it to. As late as August this year the NYT was cheering the prospect of Clinton and a Schumer-led Senate bypassing 'GOP obstruction'.

We're done fucking around on Muh Principles. And if you do want a Senate with filibuster power, then the honest move is to realize that the Republicans need to respond to fire with fire, so that in the future there' a real chance of maintaining the rules. If the GOP rolls over now, it will just feed the Democrats in the future to do whatever they want without any fear of repercussions.

This is why the English and French used gas on the Germans. This is why the Union threatened to hang Confederate POWs if the Confederacy actually followed through on hanging Union officers who led black soldiers.

The threat of reciprocity is essential for maintaining civility. The threat is only meaningful if it is utilized when pushed.

The Democrats pushed. We will now push back twice as hard. Choo-choo!

Matthew Sablan said...

"Yes and I expect the Democrats to try a filibuster. Maybe its time for the nuclear option."

-- In my opinion, nuking the filibuster is a terrible idea. Unfortunately, Democrats made it clear they will do this at the first opportunity where it benefits them. I'm not sure I can hold it against anyone who decides that invoking it first is not a bad idea, especially since Reid pushed it for some nominations previously.

I'd like to think we could pull back from Congressional brinksmanship, but it looks more and more like continual outrage is the Democrat's main mode of operation, so there's never a chance for cooler heads to prevail.

Asking one side to disarm is politically unfair, but I bet Republicans will do it, and I'll think it is a great idea, up until there's a D-President and Senate to flip the Republicans the bird.

The Elder said...

Ann, your analytical skills about political motivation have grown enormously in the last several years. But best of all, you have learned to ask the questions for your readers to answer. Citizens need to answer the questions themselves and realize that for too long the MSM has expected to provide the answers for the public.

Why would he pick Sessions when he knows what the MSM reaction will be? Why would the story about Sessions go first to the NYT? Because it play to their hybris as the self-declared newspaper of record. He is simply baiting the hook. Anyone who claims Trump's strategic planning lacks direction is going to wind up asking themselves "What just happened?"

Jupiter said...

Just for the record, the N.A.A.C.P., the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and other civil rights groups were not only “Communist-inspired”, they were communist-financed and in many cases communist-led. Which is not, unfortunately, to say that they were un-American. Would that it were so.

Anglelyne said...

The Elder: Why would he pick Sessions when he knows what the MSM reaction will be? Why would the story about Sessions go first to the NYT? Because it play to their hybris as the self-declared newspaper of record. He is simply baiting the hook. Anyone who claims Trump's strategic planning lacks direction is going to wind up asking themselves "What just happened?"

What is the likelihood that the MSM will ever absorb the wisdom of "Don't Feed the Troll"?

The Elder said...

Angledyne. Good question. The answer is NEVER, because they will never perceive themselves as the Troll.

Matthew Sablan said...

The media needs to learn that and that the Internet never forgets.

Fabi said...

Sessions can't be tired of campaigning and fundraising -- he ran unopposed last time. He wasn't primaried and then Democrats didn't field a candidate in the general against him. Unopposed, unopposed.

mezzrow said...

I'm thinking about the list of characters on JC Adams' "every single one" list finding out that the new boss will not be same as the old boss. This is worth it just for that.

Delicious. The quotes we'll get. The angst.

Worth a read if you haven't seen it, and even if you have...

https://pjmedia.com/blog/every-single-one-since-2009-obamas-doj-civil-rights-division-hired-only-leftist-lawyers-hundreds/

Unknown said...

Yes, racist. No surprise at all. When Drumpf asked black America what do they have to lose if he becomes president, this is what they have to lose. A racist as an AG.

Robert Cook said...

"The job requires somebody not politically correct, or rule of law will never come back."

Oh my god. We're already far too authoritarian a society, and our criminal justice system is far too punitive, brutally so. (Unless you're rich and powerful or happen to be a major corporation or Wall Street firm.)

Mac McConnell said...

Sessions for AG instead of Cruz, could this mean Cruz to SCOTUS? Let's hope, also invest in Tampax if this happens as the MSM's and progressives' sphincters proceed to hemorrhage.

Unknown said...

http://www.nytimes.com/1986/06/06/us/senate-panel-hands-reagan-first-defeat-on-nominee-for-judgeship.html

"WASHINGTON, June 5— The Senate Judiciary Committee today rejected the nomination of Jefferson B. Sessions 3d to be a Federal district judge in Alabama. It was the first time one of President Reagan's judicial nominees was rejected.

The 10-to-8 vote to disapprove Mr. Sessions was followed by a 9-to-9 vote in which the committee refused to send the nomination to the Senate floor with either no recommendation or an unfavorable one, in effect killing the nomination. A majority vote is necessary for an affirmative motion.

The nomination was opposed because of a number of racially insensitive statements Mr. Sessions was accused of making while serving as United States Attorney in Mobile, Ala. The nominee denied making racial statements, but both Democratic and Republican senators had expressed concern over his attitude toward members of minority groups and his prosecution last year of three blacks who were eventually acquitted on charges of voting fraud.

In several appearances before the committee, Mr. Sessions tried to explain various controversial statements attributed to him, including one that he considered the American Civil Liberties Union, the NAACP Defense Fund and the National Council of Churches ''un-American'' groups. He initially acknowledged making the statement, but he told the committee in a subsequent hearing that he did not recall making the statement and said he did not consider these groups to be anti-American."


Mac McConnell said...

"But the times they are a changin"

Gahrie said...

our criminal justice system is far too punitive, brutally so.

Oh the horrors of 3 hots and a cot, unlimited cable television, game systems, and a weight room better than most gyms.

Get back to me when we bring back chain gangs or a day spent breaking big rocks into small rocks.

Sammy Finkelman said...

Senator Arlen Spector later said, after Sessions got into the Senate, that his vote against Sessions was a mistake.

David said...

David Begley said...
I've got to think Sessions would not have wanted the job unless he knows he has the votes. Which GOP Senator is going to vote against a fellow Senator?


Cruz?

And which Democrats? Surely some will vote against him but I expect many will not. The Senate is a tight group and it's a very rare thing for them not to vote to confirm a fellow senator.

Did he not want defense? Was it not offered?

This also gives him a good shot at the Supreme Court down the road (if there is another vacancy.)

Mac McConnell said...

Romney at State or Defence.

Ambrose said...

Each appointee is immediately assigned a role by the left. Bannon - the white supremacist; Flynn - the Islamophobe; Sessions - the racist. I am just sitting here waiting for the Professor and Mary Ann.

The Godfather said...

Before the Senate votes not to confirm Sessions, they need to take Robert Byrd's name off all the federal buildings that old KKK wizard strong-armed the Congress for.

HT said...

Where has everyone been? This man was instrumental in getting Trump off the ground. Why is everyone so shocked? Where's the analysis of his role within the campaign; he's been at Trump's side the entire time.

It may be interesting, may not be. He's old, as are so many around Trump. We'll see.