February 9, 2017

Whitehouse Statement on Sessions Confirmation

Washington, DC – Tonight, the Senate voted 52-47 to confirm Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL) to be President Donald Trump’s Attorney General.  Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, released the following statement on the vote:

“So far, this President has shown little regard for what the Justice Department and the law have to say.  He fired a top career Justice attorney when she disagreed with a legally dubious, poorly vetted, and un-American executive order.  He did nothing to correct White House staff falsehoods about the executive order.  When the courts interceded, he suggested that a highly qualified, Bush-appointed, Senate-confirmed judge who issued the order is no judge at all.  That’s just in the first two weeks.

“To lead the Justice Department, our Attorney General must remain independent from, and sometimes act in direct defiance of, the White House.  At the Department, I felt the pride it takes in protecting the rights and wellbeing of all the American people and serving the law above all else.  We have seen independence from Republican appointees before, like Attorney General Ashcroft resisting White House pressure on warrantless wiretaps.

“We saw scandal and disgrace when Attorneys General John Mitchell, Edwin Meese, and Alberto Gonzalez yielded to political meddling.  The stakes seem far higher already with this administration.

“I voted ‘no’ today because of Rhode Islanders’ serious concerns about Senator Sessions’s record on immigration, civil rights, protections for women, religious tolerance, and offense to broad groups of Americans.  But, most of all, I voted ‘no’ because I do not have adequate confidence that he will fight for the Department’s mission when necessary with this President.”


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