I feel the need to set the record straight about former U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
I have spent some time commenting positively about on this blog for his decision to recuse himself from the Russia probe into the Donald Trump presidential campaign. He faced a clear conflict of interest when he took the job as AG because of his campaign role as a foreign policy adviser to Donald Trump.
He was involved at some level with the Russians who made contact with the campaign. There were questions about an investigation. Sessions had to recuse himself because of the conflict of interest.
I applauded him for that singular act.
However, he shouldn’t have been selected AG in the first place. The man “earned” the nomination because he was the first U.S. senator to endorse Trump’s candidacy.
Prior to his becoming a senator, though, Sessions took on a serious blot on his public service record.
He served as a U.S. attorney in Alabama. President Reagan nominated him in 1986 to a federal judgeship. Then questions surfaced about Sessions’s comments regarding the Ku Klux Klan. Witnesses testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee that Sessions reportedly had given KKK members a pass until he learned that they “smoked pot.” Four Justice Department lawyers testified they heard Sessions make racist remarks.
The committee eventually voted 10-8 against his nomination. It went to the full Senate for a vote and senators rejected Sessions for the federal bench.
What did he do then? He ran for the Senate in 1996 — and won! He served in the Senate for 20 years until Trump tapped him to lead the Justice Department. He didn’t stand out during his Senate years. Sessions, though, did manage to get embraced by Trump.
Am I glad he’s gone from the Justice Department? Yes and no. I am unhappy that his resignation now clears the decks for Trump to nominate someone who endorses his view about Mueller’s investigation.
Overall, though, I won’t shed a tear that he’s gone. His pre-Senate history was a deal breaker from the get-go.