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  1. #1
    Administrator Jean's Avatar
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    Supporters, Foes of Sen. Sessions Gear Up for Next Week's Confirmation Hearing With D

    Supporters, Foes of Sen. Sessions Gear Up for Next Week's Confirmation Hearing With Dueling Videos

    By Barbara Hollingsworth | January 6, 2017 | 4:32 PM EST

    ( – Supporters and foes of Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee for attorney general, are gearing up for his Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing next week by releasing dueling videos that present diametrically opposing views of the conservative Alabama senator and former U.S. attorney.

    One video portrays Sessions as a caring and effective public servant who goes the extra mile for his constituents, while the other depicts him as an extremist who opposes civil rights and poses “a real danger” to the American people.

    A video by the Judicial Crisis Network’s (JCN) project entitled “Getting It Right” includes testimonies from Alabama residents who have dealt with Sessions firsthand.

    Johnny Spann recounted how Sessions comforted his family after his son, Marine Capt. Johnny Michael Spann, became the first American to be killed in the line of duty in Afghanistan.

    The JCN video also includes a comment by Randy Hillman, executive director of prosecution services at the Alabama District Attorneys Association, who said: “I think particularly law enforcement and prosecutors are elated [that] Senator Sessions has been nominated for the attorney general’s position.”

    “After eight years of lawlessness and politics at the DOJ [Dept. of Justice], Sessions will bring change. Alabamians know about his character and accomplishments, but we wanted to share some highlights of his distinguished career with the rest of America,” said JCN president Carrie Severino, who does not appear in the video.

    “Senator Sessions is a good man whose service to his state makes it clear that he will turn DOJ around and make it an agency that every American can be proud of. He will abide by the Constitution, he will put public safety ahead of political agendas, and he will prosecute corrupt public officials regardless of political party,” she said.

    However, another video posted on YouTube by entitled “Stop Jeff Sessions” is much less complimentary to the attorney general nominee.

    “We recognize that his confirmation poses a real danger to the American people,” Wade Henderson, president and CEO of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, said in the video.

    Sessions “has been the architect of the most extreme views and positions that have been promoted by President-elect Trump and by himself in the Senate,” added Janet Murguia, president and CEO of the National Council of LaRaza.

    “As much as his team might try to distract the American public, Jeff Sessions can’t run or hide from his racist comments and votes… Sessions should acknowledge that his track record of opposition to civil rights makes him unfit to be attorney general and withdraw his nomination," campaign director Jamiah Adams said in a statement.

    However, with 52 Republicans in the Senate following the November 2016 elections, the GOP has enough votes to confirm Sessions if there are no defections. Outgoing Attorney General Loretta Lynch was confirmed 56-43 by the Republican-led Senate in 2015.

    In 2013, the Democratic majority unilaterally axed a Senate rule that required 60 votes to stop a filibuster on Cabinet-level appointments.
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  2. #2
    Administrator Jean's Avatar
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    Whatever is thrown at Sen. Sessions he will handle it with his usual cool calm respectful manner.
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  3. #3
    Super Moderator Newmexican's Avatar
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    Who is Thomas Figures?

    by Carrie Severino | January 3rd, 2017

    Judicial confirmations ain’t beanbag, but Democrats opposing Jeff Sessions’ 1986 nomination to federal district court repeatedly chose the low road, egged on by then-Senator Joe Biden, who was the ranking minority member of the Judiciary Committee. Judiciary Committee Democrats collected information provided “confidentially” to the American Bar Association, deposed government attorneys, and aired anonymous slanders by Mobile County Democrats. Then-Senator Joe Biden and the other Democrats only called a handful of witnesses with personal knowledge of Sessions, and several of those had major credibility problems. Nevertheless, wild accusations of racism from the few witnesses the Democrats called ended up dominating press coverage. Now that Sessions has been designated as President-elect Trump’s nominee for Attorney General, journalists have begun to rehash the old allegations.

    In those days, the testimony of Thomas Figures, one of the few witnesses having personal experience with Sessions, received the most significant attention. Who is Figures? And why should we believe him?

    At the time of the hearings, Figures was a lawyer in private practice from Mobile, Alabama. He had previously worked as an Assistant U.S. Attorney under Jeff Sessions for about four years, starting when Sessions became U.S. Attorney under Reagan in 1981. (Figures made oddly inconsistent statements about when he started as an AUSA. In his oral testimony, he said that he had been hired in September 1978. In a written statement provided to the committee, however, he said that he worked there “[prior to the middle of 1975.” And in that same statement, he also said that he had started his work there “during the Carter Administration,” consistent with his oral testimony. He did not explain or correct the contradiction.)

    After the 1980 elections, politically-appointed officials like William Kimbrough, Jr., the Carter-era U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Alabama, left their posts. Kimbrough believed that staying on despite strong disagreements with the incoming Administration might lead to perception of sinister motives at work in perfectly innocent statements or actions. For that reason, Kimbrough said, Figures “probably would have been better served to leave, as I did.” But he didn’t, and Figures ended up working for Sessions until 1985.

    Working for a strong Republican conservative like Sessions must have been very difficult for Figures. Deeply embedded in Alabama’s Democratic party, politics was part of Figures’ everyday life. His brother (who was later his law partner) was a state senator and a Democrat, and Figures himself had been “vice chairman of the Mobile County Democratic Conference.”

    Kimbrough told the committee that he believed that Figures “became disaffected when the Republicans came into office[.]” Nevertheless, Figures had to admit that Sessions left civil rights law enforcement essentially unchanged in his district. Senator Jeremiah Denton asked Figures during the committee hearing whether Sessions had told him that he “wanted [Figures] to continue to handle civil rights cases?” Figures’ response was simple: “Yes, sir.” Sessions also told Figures that he wanted him “to come to him to discuss any problems” in that area “because he wanted to ensure that those cases were properly handled.” He also acknowledged that Sessions had deferred to his recommendations about pursuing civil rights cases (except on the criminal ones) and “never withdrew a case assignment because he disagreed” with Figures.

    Figures appreciated several things about Sessions’ tenure as U.S. Attorney. He acknowledged that Sessions had “made substantial progress in rooting out political corruption in the city of Mobile,” noting one case that “was a major step toward reducing bribes and case-fixing in the State court system.”

    On the other hand, Figures had difficult interpersonal relationships at the U.S. Attorney’s Office. One colleague, a fellow AUSA named Ed Vulevich, said that Figures had a “pretty bad attitude problem,” “carrie[d] his feelings on his sleeve,” and had “considerable difficulty dealing with some investigative agents or agencies.” His “main problem,” the colleague said, was “getting along with people.” Not surprisingly, Figures came across to Vulevich as having “somewhat of a persecution complex.” Vulevich described the problem this way: “I might best describe it as the man in a football stadium with 80,000 people but he thinks that when the team huddles, they are all talking about him.”

    Some of Figures’ accusations involved statements that are clearly deadpan or gallows humor. At the hearing, the senators confronted Sessions with Figures’ claim that Sessions had said: “I thought those guys [the Ku Klux Klan] were OK until I learned they smoked pot.” The hearing transcript records that there was laughter in the committee room following the quotation, indicating that the audience thought it was funny, too. So did an attorney from the Civil Rights Division, Barry Kowalski, who testified that the statement “clearly was intended as humor.” Moreover, it was apparently funny enough to repeat to others, with Kowalski repeating the joke often enough that he was “not certain how many times” he passed it on. Albert Glenn, another Justice attorney, said that he “took it wholly as a joke and humor. It never occurred to me that there was any seriousness to it. There was no question in my mind at the time that it was meant humorously.” The only person who didn’t get the joke was Thomas Figures, who was convinced that Sessions said it in a “serious manner.”

    In another instance, Figures appeared to be baiting Sessions with a news story reporting that the NAACP had challenged some Reagan Administration position on affirmative action. He said that he said, “really in jest, well, there goes that subversive NAACP again.” Figures claims that in response, Sessions blushed, became “very serious,” and “became very stoic” before saying that he did not think that they were subversive, but that the NAACP and some of its left-wing partners were “un-American organizations with antitraditional American values.” Sessions explained to the committee that he was complaining about the mission creep that characterizes organizations that start out focusing on civil rights issues like discrimination and “lose their moral authority” by becoming de facto political organizations.

    Other allegations failed to survive any scrutiny whatsoever. Figures accused Sessions of calling him “boy” in front of three colleagues at the U.S. Attorney’s Office, but all of those colleagues responded that they had never heard anything like that. Figures even told the committee that the offensive comment was made “regularly” by Sessions and the other assistants in the office, although he later tried to claim (falsely) that he had not used the word “regularly.” Figures also claimed that Sessions had told him to “be careful what you say to white folks.” Sessions flatly denied saying “white folks” but did say that he admonished Figures for making a cutting remark to a secretary that “hurt her feelings.” In an ironic twist, Sessions said that Figures had admitted to sometimes getting in trouble by making jokes that people take too seriously.
    As before, America Rising Squared was enormously helpful to preparing this piece.
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  4. #4
    Super Moderator Newmexican's Avatar
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    Who is Douglas Wicks?

    by Carrie Severino | January 3rd, 2017

    One of the more outrageous allegations made during Jeff Sessions’ 1986 confirmation hearing was aired by then-Senator Joe Biden, who asserted that Sessions had been accused of using the “n-word” five years earlier in 1981. The Guardian resurrected the charge shortly after Sessions’ nomination was announced last month and managed to obtain an interview with the alleged object of the slur, Douglas Wicks.

    So who is Douglas Wicks?

    Wicks was the first black county commissioner to be elected in Mobile County. According to Biden, the alleged incident occurred during a November 1981 election law case involving Wicks in which Sessions was representing the losing party “not as a U.S. attorney but as counsel.” Biden’s source alleged that after a particularly heated hearing, Sessions told Dan Wiley, a Democratic politician and former county commissioner, that one of the white county commissioners “[would] be watching” Wiley and Wicks. Biden’s source alleged that Sessions had used the “n-word” to refer to Wicks.

    Accusations based on racial slurs are inflammatory in any case, so it’s not surprising that Biden failed to notice basic problems with the story. For instance: Would a top federal prosecutor bother to step into a county election dispute only four months after confirmation? And if so, would he have done so as private counsel, thereby creating conflicts of interest for the entire U.S. Attorney’s office? Had Biden been interested in the truth, he could have called either Wicks or Wiley as witnesses. He wasn’t, so he was content to publicize the anonymous slander.

    But if Biden was privately skeptical about the credibility of these witnesses, he had good reason. The following year, Wicks would go on to be sentenced to 15 years in prison for extorting money from people having business before the county. Later, in 1999, Wiley would be sentenced to two years in federal prison for federal tax fraud and money laundering.

    Wiley died in 2008, but the Guardian did manage to scrape up some double hearsay from Wicks: “Wicks . . . said he did not hear Sessions use racist language himself but was informed that he had done so by Cain Kennedy, who was Alabama’s first black circuit judge. Kennedy, a former state legislator, died in 2005.”

    It is particularly strange that Wicks would cite Kennedy as his source, since Kennedy actually supported Sessions’ nomination in 1986. During Sessions’ confirmation hearing, Kennedy signed a telegram from the judges on his circuit to the committee describing Sessions as having an “excellent” reputation, arguing that “he would make an excellent federal district judge and would rule impartially in all matters presented to him,” and “urging] you to support this fine candidate and his nomination to the federal bench.” Would Judge Kennedy have signed that letter to support someone who used a racial slur to describe a black man?

    If the Judiciary Committee calls Wicks this time around, he may face questions about his reliability as a witness. In recent years, he claims to have had a variety of unusual religious experiences, including a series of word-for-word messages from the Holy Spirit which he published in a 2011 book. I’m prepared to accept the idea that the Deity could give personal revelations, but Wicks’ revelations run the gamut from just goofy to arguably racist.

    For example, Wicks claims to have had a revelation from the Holy Spirit about a conversion process between light and other forms of energy:

    HOLY SPIRIT: “When compressed individual rays of light are accelerated in the opposite direction of their travel a counter energy force is created that produces energy that may be channeled to produce power.
    WICKS: “Note: The Gillette Razor Fusion commercial I first saw on television about 2005 or 2006 is a picture of the vision I was given how the light energy power conversion process may be achieved.”
    Wicks also cites the Holy Spirit as revealing to him a history of “Black people” that even David Duke might consider over-the-top:

    HOLY SPIRIT: “On the matter of race and the origin of Black people as we now know them; came from the region of Babylon where the tower was constructed, as were all others (people). Blacks were the first rulers of the earth, as was Nimrod. They worshipped a god called “Occult” that was an evil angel of Satan. They worshipped this false god and became his subjects. The people made oaths and vows to always manifest the false god’s seed. In return he gave them favor through occultist powers that were used to oppress others and have them worship them as god’s representatives on earth. A generational curse was given in seed form when every baby born was sacrificed unto this satanic angel, Occult (Gen 10: 8-10). The seed was planted to stop the work of you and others of your spiritual heritage. Violence spread upon the earth through Nimrod’s vision of Satan’s plan. Nimrod required all babies born to be sacrificed to the occult god and receive the seed of Satan. The seed of Nimrod caused (spiritual) darkness to descend upon black people and to stray from light. Enmity came between blacks and other groups of people according to their language. The language of the blacks was the language used by the demons to oppress the people of other groups.”

    Is this someone the Judiciary Committee would really take seriously on matters of racism?
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  5. #5
    Super Moderator Newmexican's Avatar
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    Scrambled Eggheads Against Jeff Sessions

    by Carrie Severino | January 2nd, 2017

    In a turn of events that will surprise exactly nobody, a group of liberal law professors is circulating a letter arguing that Senator Jeff Sessions shouldn’t be confirmed as Attorney General. It turns out that some of them aren’t exactly the academy’s brightest luminaries. Several of the signatories signed onto another letter earlier this year asserting the silly claim that the Senate had a “constitutional duty” to hold a hearing and a vote on Merrick Garland’s nomination. For the record, some of those not-so-leading lights are: Allie Robbins, Angela Davis, Beth Lyon, Beverly Balos, Doug Colbert, Elliot Milstein, Kathy Hessler, Margaret E. Johnson, Nancy Levit, Nancy Abramowitz, Peter Edelman, Phyllis Goldfarb, Stephen Wizner, Susan Bryant, Suzianne Painter-Thorne, and Verna Williams. (The list is being actively updated so there may be more.)

    The authors are also engaging in a bit of grade inflation on their numbers. At least 50 of the signatories are clinical or adjunct faculty, which means that they’re effectively practitioners, not law professors who spend their days in the ivory tower looking for profound legal insights.

    We should note that numerous other lawyers and law enforcement officials have already declared their support for the Sessions nomination, ranging from former Deputy Attorney General Larry Thompson to the National Association of Assistant U.S. Attorneys and Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association.

    Of course, it’s no secret that legal academia is overwhelmingly liberal. Professor Nick Rosenkranz noted in a 2015 article that only three out of 120 professors at Georgetown’s law school were willing to openly describe themselves as conservative, libertarian, or Republican. Likewise, James Lindgren’s 2013 study showed that 82% of professors gave political contributions to Democrats and only 15% gave to Republicans. With the amount of left-wing vitriol currently being directed at the incoming administration, I’m a little surprised that they didn’t get more professors on board.
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  6. #6
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    Jeff Sessions should have been a tough sell in the Senate, but he’s too nice

    Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) is President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee for attorney general. (Molly Riley/AP)

    By Paul Kane January 7 at 2:09 PM
    Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) should have been a tough sell in the Senate.

    President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee for attorney general voted to impeach President Bill Clinton, opposed President Obama’s Supreme Court nominees and led the opposition to a 2013 bipartisan immigration bill. He was also denied a federal judgeship 30 years ago — by the Senate — amid allegations that as U.S. attorney he had improperly prosecuted black voting rights activists and used racially intemperate language.

    But here’s something else to know about Sessions: He is one of the more well-liked members of the Senate, a place that still retains elements of one of the world’s most exclusive clubs. He is genial, respectful and patient toward colleagues and staff. And that has given fellow Republicans and even some Democrats reason not to scrutinize the more unsavory allegations of his political history.

    Take Sen. Susan Collins, a moderate Republican from Maine who, under other circumstances, might be a target for Democrats to peel off in hopes of defeating Sessions’s nomination.

    Instead, she’s his lead spokeswoman.

    Sen. Jeff Session ( R-Ala.), President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee for attorney general, speaks during a post-election Trump rally in Mobile, Ala., on Dec. 17. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)

    Sessions and Collins may both be Republicans, but otherwise they could not be more different. He is a Methodist who grew up in a small town 100 miles from Alabama’s Gulf Coast. She was raised Catholic in tiny Caribou, Maine, less than 20 miles from the Canadian border. He speaks in a lilting twang; she with New England deliberativeness.

    While Sessions was building a voting record in the Senate as a rock-ribbed conservative, Collins has most often been on the opposite side — the leading moderate of her generation who refused to vote for Trump and patterned her career after fellow Mainer Margaret Chase Smith, who made national headlines in the early 1950s by standing up to Joe McCarthy (and was the first woman to serve in both the House and the Senate).

    On Tuesday, Collins will introduce Sessions to the Senate Judiciary Committee with a full-throated endorsement for his nomination as attorney general.

    “He’s a decent individual with a strong commitment to the rule of law. He’s a leader of integrity,” Collins said in an interview, dismissing attacks from liberal activists about his conservative views and his actions as a young prosecutor. “I think the attacks against him are not well-founded and are unfair.”

    Collins’s high-profile endorsement signals the uphill fight Sessions’s opponents face in trying to deny his bid to become the nation’s chief law enforcement officer with the sort of broadside attacks that have become common in confirmation hearings. Despite holding some of the most conservative positions in the Senate, Sessions is a heavy favorite to win confirmation.

    “I genuinely like him,” said Sen. Christopher A. Coons (D-Del.), a member of the Judiciary Committee. Coons still might vote against Sessions because of the “stark differences” between the two on policy, but they are friends.

    This has frustrated the liberal coalition of civil rights groups leading the opposition. In 1986, this same coalition successfully swayed the committee to reject Sessions for a federal judgeship. Rather than slink into retirement, Sessions won a Senate seat in 1996 and has served ever since on the Judiciary Committee, whose members are now tasked with voting on his fitness for office.

    “You should be sitting in that room prepared to learn about this person, who you may have seen running next to you on the treadmill in the Senate gym, who you may have had lunch with, whose family you may even know, but whose record as it relates to the critical issue of civil rights you might not know,” Sherrilyn Ifill, president and director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, said Friday during a conference call with coalition members.

    Democrats aren’t about to give Sessions a pass.

    Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.), the former committee chairman, wants to question him about his views on religious freedom based on a committee vote Sessions cast a few years ago. Coons went home for the weekend with a 300-page briefing book on Sessions’s record, ranging from civil liberties to his personal financial investments. Sen. Jack Reed (R.I.), the top Democrat on the Armed Services Committee, will be watching questions about the Bush administration’s use of enhanced interrogation techniques, which some viewed as torture.

    But most senators tend to see Sessions in the same way Collins does — as a friendly man who never broke his word to them. Many have prayed with him and traveled with him on official overseas trips. Almost no one wants to review the original allegations against him during his 1986 nomination; for the most part, they don’t think that he is the racist that some have painted — at least not anymore.

    “I don’t know the dynamics of what happened then, but I can speak to Jeff’s character in the 20 years that I’ve known him,” Collins said.

    The dynamic harks back to that surrounding the late Democratic senator Edward M. Kennedy, whose early career was defined and grievously wounded by the scandal resulting from a car crash on Chappaquiddick in Massachusetts in 1969. Kennedy, who was driving, swam free and left the scene; his 28-year-old female companion died inside the car.

    Kennedy’s Senate colleagues found plenty of fodder in his liberal record to use against him during debates, but they never yelled “Chappaquiddick!” in floor debates or committee rooms. They liked Kennedy; they trusted him. His political opponents chose to fight him on the merits of the moment, not on his long-ago past.

    One senator who has wanted to focus more on Sessions’s past on race is Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.), the chamber’s only black Republican.

    “I think judging a person on 30-year-old history is questionable. Eliminating or exempting 30-year-old history is probably not wise as well,” Scott said. “So, making sure that you understand what it actually was and who he is, has been an important part of what I’ve tried to do.”

    Scott hosted Sessions in mid-December in North Charleston with activists who peppered him with questions about federal prosecution of a police officer who fatally shot a black man in the back.

    “The attorney general’s position has more impact on communities of color than perhaps any other nominee,” Scott said, adding that he was still considering the nomination.

    By and large, senators want to focus on other topics. And there’s plenty there to discuss, from how Sessions would handle the deportation of illegal immigrants to allegations that in 1995, while serving as state attorney general, he supported the use of chain gangs for prisoner work.

    Coons suggested that Sessions had so many staunchly conservative positions in “the recent past” that there was little need to relitigate the 1980s.

    He spent an hour with Sessions on Thursday talking about legal philosophy. Coons and Sessions have spent the past six years talking at the Senate’s weekly Bible study and working out together in the gym.

    Collins and Sessions have had plenty of debates — in public, in closed caucus meetings and at the many dinners of the Senate class of 1996. They were almost always on opposing sides, but she learned to trust his consistency.

    Collins announced in August that she would not vote for Trump. But when Sessions asked her to introduce him Tuesday — usually the task of a home-state colleague — Collins happily accepted the role for a friend of 20 years.

    “He’s the same person,” she said.
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