Tag Archives: Attorney General

Sessions pick for AG is the most galling of all


Jeff Sessions is likely to be confirmed as the nation’s next attorney general.

It’s been said that “to the victors go the spoils.” In Sessions’ case, the victor happens to be a U.S. senator who was among Donald J. Trump’s earliest and most vocal supporters in his winning bid for the presidency.

Trump has rewarded the Alabama Republican with a nomination to become the nation’s top lawyer, its top law enforcement officer, its primary legal eagle.

The irony — not to mention the potential consequence — of this appointment is too rich to overlook.

Sessions has served in the Senate since 1997. For nearly a decade he’s been a member of the very “club” that once rejected an earlier nomination for Sessions to become a federal judge.

President Reagan nominated Sessions to the federal bench in 1986. Sessions, though, seemed to have this thing about African-Americans. He allegedly made some racist comments while serving as a federal prosecutor. He once said something akin to endorsing the Ku Klux Klan until he learned that some KKKers “smoked pot.” Sessions declared that to be a “joke,” that he was just kiddin’ around.

Well, the Senate rejected his judicial nomination. Sessions, though, decided to join the club. He was elected in 1996 and since then has been passing judgment on other judicial nominees who’ve come before the Judiciary Committee, where he serves.

Thus, the irony.

Sessions will be confirmed eventually, but only because senators are deeply resistant to rejecting one of their own, no matter how repulsive he may be.

The Justice Department has made great strides in recent years — under Attorneys General Eric Holder and Loretta Lynch — in ensuring equal protection under the law for all Americans. Does one really expect an Attorney General Jeff Sessions to continue that trend?

I fear that the attorney general’s office is going to take a decidedly less-aggressive posture in enforcing civil rights violations when they occur. I also am wary of anything Jeff Sessions says about his commitment to ensuring equal justice for all Americans.

His buddies in the Senate will confirm this nomination. I am hoping, though, for a thorough going-over regarding his record as a prosecutor and that silly rejection to the federal judgeship over things he said about many of our fellow citizens.

Perhaps one of his inquisitors will ask: “Sen. Sessions, if the Senate deemed you unfit to be a federal judge, why should it confirm you now as attorney general?”

Stop and frisk: let’s hold on


Donald J. Trump wants American police officers to institute the “stop-and-frisk” policies that a judge has ruled to be unconstitutional.

That doesn’t matter to the Republican presidential nominee.

He’s the “law and order candidate” for president … he says.

We’ve entered another difficult time. Police shot an unarmed man to death in Tulsa, Okla. Charlotte, N.C., residents are protesting tonight in the wake of another fatal incident involving police officers. And yes, the shooting victims were black; the officers are white.

We’re on edge once again.

Trump’s response is to double down on that “stop-and-frisk” idea.

A judge in New York said the practice appears to discriminate against Americans based on the color of their skin. U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch weighed in, contending that the practice wasn’t an effective law enforcement tool.


Yes, some communities are experiencing terrible spikes in violent crime. GOP partisans not surprisingly are blaming Democratic municipal administrations for incompetence and for adhering to policies that create such an environment.

C’mon, folks. Let’s be rational and reasonable.

As Politico reports: “Lynch, who spent two stints as chief federal prosecutor in Brooklyn before being nominated as attorney general, said she wasn’t opposed to stop-and-frisk techniques under certain circumstances.

“‘As with every police procedure we want to empower law enforcement to be responsive to community needs. We want to empower them to protect the community. We want to give them the training they need in order to do it in a way that is constitutional, safe and effective and promotes trust,’ Lynch said. ‘It’s not really a yes or no answer.'”

The concern about stop and frisk is its widespread use. Trump, as is his tendency, wants to bring the policy to bear across the board.

I’m going to stick with the AG’s more reasonable and rational approach.

Absence same as 'no' vote? No … it isn't

I really do like having Ted Cruz in the U.S. Senate.

He offers so much grist for folks like me on which to comment.

The freshman Republican senator said this the other day about his absence on a vote that confirmed Loretta Lynch as the latest U.S. attorney general: “Absence is the equivalent of a ‘no’ vote.”


There you have it. He missed the vote because he had a prior commitment to attend a fundraiser back home in Texas. Cruz had voted earlier on a motion to end a filibuster on Lynch’s nomination; he voted to keep the filibuster going.

The filibuster was broken, the vote took place, Lynch had the votes to win confirmation. So, what was the point of Cruz being there to cast his expected “no” vote on Lynch?

Well shoot, senator. It mattered because you didn’t put it on the record. It’s not part of the Senate’s official voting record.

I’m still uncertain precisely why Cruz disapproves so strongly of Lynch’s ascending to the office of attorney general, other than her support of President Obama’s executive order granting temporary amnesty to millions of illegal immigrants. I guess Cruz doesn’t much like the notion of an attorney general supporting the policies of the president who appoints her to the Cabinet, where everyone serves at the pleasure of the president of the United States.

That’s been the mantra of other senators who opposed Lynch, even those who said upon the announcement of her appointment that she is “highly qualified.” Some of those former supporters changed their mind when she declared her backing for the president’s action on immigration.

I think it’s strange. Then again, that’s just me.

What the heck. Sen. Cruz was entitled to attend the fundraiser. He’s running for president, after all. Let’s not assume, though, that this issue of non-voting on this confirmation — as well as other key votes he’s missed while campaigning for the White House — will disappear.

It’s the price a sitting member of Congress pays when he or she seeks the highest office in the land. Sens. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton paid it when they ran in 2008. Sen. Cruz can expect the same thing in 2016.



Lynch finally confirmed as AG

The vote was 56-43.

The only reason the full U.S. Senate didn’t vote on this key appointment was that Republican Ted Cruz of Texas didn’t cast a vote. He didn’t like the nominee being considered for attorney general.

Welcome to the U.S. Justice Department, Loretta Lynch.


A number of Republicans voted to confirm Lynch, whose nomination should have been decided weeks ago. It was bogged down by the Senate Republican leadership’s insistence that it deal first with a bill that had nothing to do with Lynch’s nomination.

But she’s in. That’s good. She’s qualified and she deserved long ago to get a vote by senators on her nomination.

But here’s a curious element to the vote. One of the “no” votes came from Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, who said this:  “The question for me from the start has been whether Ms. Lynch will make a clean break from (President Obama’s) policies and take the department in a new direction.”

So, the chairman wants the new attorney general to break away from the policies of the president who appointed her. When has that ever happened? When has a Cabinet official ever promised to go against the individual who selected him or her?

The bogeyman for Grassley and other Republicans was Obama’s executive order on immigration that delays deportation for an estimated 5 million undocumented immigrants. He wanted her to say she opposed the order. Good luck with that one, Mr. Chairman.

But what the heck. She waited longer than any other recent Cabinet appointment to get confirmed.

Let’s hope her new job will have been worth the wait.


'Don't hire prostitutes'

It’s come down to this.

The attorney general of the United States of America has issued a memo to staff lawyers and law enforcement officials under the Department of Justice authority urging them against hiring hookers.

How bizarre is that?


The memo comes from outgoing Attorney General Eric Holder after a report found widespread sexual abuse among several agencies within the DOJ purview. As Politico reported: “Holder wrote that, despite prostitution being legal in parts of Nevada and abroad, department employees are expected to refrain, ‘not simply because it invites extortion, blackmail, and leaks of sensitive or classified information, but also because it undermines the Department’s efforts to eradicate the scourge of human trafficking.’”

As if the department’s legal eagles and investigators didn’t know all that?

I’m not sure if this isn’t somehow Holder’s swan song memo to employees. Whatever it is, doesn’t seem to be understood that the individuals who work for the Department of Justice should know better than to hire hookers to give them, um, pleasure?

We’ve seen report of agents consorting with “businesswomen” in Colombia, of them fooling around while serving on advance teams sent in ahead of the president.

Maybe it’s just me, but I expect better from the individuals hired to do dangerous, sensitive and life-threatening work.

As for the DOJ effort to “eradicate the scourge of human trafficking,” it’s clear that the agency cannot be credible in that effort if its team is engaged in the very behavior that promotes such tragic endeavors.

Lynch nomination a cliffhanger? Why?

Sometimes I can be a bit slow on the uptake. I get that. I concede it’s a weakness.

But for the life of me, I do not understand why Loretta Lynch’s nomination to become the next U.S. attorney general is hanging by a thread. Someone will have to explain this one to me.


Lynch is supposed to replace Eric Holder as AG. She was thought to be set for a relatively easy confirmation. Then the man who appointed her, President Obama, decided to issue an executive order that delayed deportation of some 5 million illegal immigrants; the order allows them to seek work permits while they stay in the United States.

The order enraged Senate Republicans. So what did they do? They began questioning Lynch about whether she supported the president’s executive decision.

What on God’s Earth did they expect her to say?

“Well, senator, since you asked, I think that’s the dumbest damn idea I’ve ever heard. It’s illegal. It violates the Constitution. The president has rocks in his head and he should be impeached just for being stupid enough to issue the order.”

Is that what they want her to say? I’m beginning to think that’s the case.

Instead, she has declared her support of the president’s decision. As if that’s some big surprise to the senators, some of whom said they’d support her initially, but then changed their mind because — gasp! — she’s endorsing a key policy of the man who wants her to become the next attorney general.

Who’da thunk such a thing?

Loretta Lynch is eminently qualified to assume this important post. Republicans have made no secret of their intense dislike of Holder, who said he’d stay on the job until the next AG is confirmed.

I believe Holder has done just fine as attorney general, but he wants to move on, spend time with his family, pursue other interests … all those clichés. So, let him do it.

First, though, confirm Loretta Lynch.

Let's try to define AG's 'independence'

U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles Grassley wants the next attorney general to show some “independent” thought if she’s confirmed to run the Justice Department.

So far, Attorney General-designate Loretta Lynch isn’t demonstrating the requisite independence to suit Chairman Grassley’s taste.


The committee, which has to sign off on her nomination before the full Senate votes on her confirmation, delayed the vote for a couple of weeks. The reason? Lynch hasn’t put sufficient distance between herself and President Obama on the issue of immigration and the president’s executive actions that delays deportation of some 5 million undocumented immigrants living in the United States.

I’ll admit to being a bit slow on the uptake at times, so I don’t quite understand this “independence” concern being expressed.

The president nominates Cabinet officers because he wants them to be on the same page as the person who nominates them. How can a member of a president’s Cabinet exhibit sufficient independence without undermining the overall goals that the administration seeks to achieve?

As The Hill reported: “I think [Attorney General Eric] Holder is running the Justice Department like a wing of the White House,” (Grassley) added. “That’s not right, and I want her to show us that she can be independent.”

So, is the chairman asking Lynch to buck the president on an issue he deems critical enough to take executive action?

How does, say, a defense secretary demonstrate independence when he or she assumes command of the Pentagon, which falls under the ultimate purview of the commander in chief? How does a treasury secretary oversee fiscal policy independent of the president who might have a clear set of economic principles he wants the country to follow?

Maybe there’s some kind of middle ground that Grassley and other Senate Republicans are seeking from the next attorney general.

I stand by my belief that the president’s prerogative should carry greater weight if he nominates someone who’s qualified to do a job.

Accordingly, Loretta Lynch is supremely qualified to be the next attorney general — even if she happens to support the policies of the president who appoints her.


AG pick Lynch forced to wait … and wait

The game-playing is continuing on Capitol Hill regarding one key appointment to President Obama’s Cabinet.

It involves Attorney General-designate Loretta Lynch, who’ll now have to wait until Feb. 26 for the Senate Judiciary Committee to vote on her nomination to run the Justice Department.

What foolishness. What’s up with the newly empowered Republican Senate majority?


Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, said Lynch wasn’t very responsive in answering the 200 or so written questions submitted by the panel. So he’s going to hold up the vote, even though virtually all the committee members’ minds are made up.

Lynch likely has the votes on the committee to be confirmed. She surely has the votes of the full Senate.

Meanwhile, the man GOP senators have come to loathe — Attorney General Eric Holder — remains on the job while Lynch is left twisting in the wind while the new Senate majority gets around to scheduling a vote to confirm her.

Lynch, the current U.S. attorney for New York’s Eastern District, is highly qualified to become the next attorney general. Several key Republican senators already have declared their endorsement of the Democratic president’s nominee.

Chairman Grassley, though, wants to drag it out some more — for reasons only he seems to get.

Some GOP senators object to Lynch’s support of the president’s executive action on immigration — as if they’d expect her to oppose the decision made by the man who has selected her to become attorney general.

Do they actually expect her to oppose the president? Do they really and truly believe she should undercut the nation’s chief executive?

Let’s take this vote, send it to the full Senate, then let all 100 senators vote on Loretta Lynch’s nomination.

Shall we?


GOP gangs up on Ted Cruz … good deal!

Ted Cruz keeps trying to rouse the U.S. Senate rabbles with his obstructionism.

But now the freshman Texas Republican lawmaker is finding trouble in a most unlikely place: within his own GOP Senate caucus.


The fiery loudmouth wants to employ procedural trickery to delay the Senate Judiciary Committee vote on attorney general-designate Loretta Lynch’s nomination to take over the Justice Department. Why? Because he just cannot stand the fact that she supports the president’s executive actions on immigration reform. Who knew?

That she would endorse President Obama’s executive authority just isn’t possible, right?

Oh, wait! Lynch is Barack Obama’s choice to be attorney general. Gosh, do you think she’s on the same page as the president of the United States on this contentious issue?

None of that matters, of course, to the Cruz Missile.

He’s going to do whatever he can to disrupt, dismiss and just plain dis the president whenever possible.

Fellow Texas Republican Sen. John Cornyn also opposes Lynch’s nomination, but he doesn’t want to block her confirmation vote from proceeding. Indeed, Lynch already has gathered considerable Republican support for her nomination, including from serious conservatives such as Orrin Hatch of Utah, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Jeff Flake of Arizona.

Cruz should look at it this way, as well. Every day that Lynch is denied the nomination on the basis of some specious procedural chicanery is a day longer that Eric Holder remains as attorney general. After all, Senate Republicans are known to detest Holder more than they oppose Lynch.

Eric Holder did a good job as attorney general — and Loretta Lynch deserves confirmation and she needs to get to work.


Pick an AG successor quickly, Mr. President

Here’s a tidbit that will surprise no one.

Senate Republicans are insisting that President Obama delay nominating a successor to Attorney General Eric Holder until after the new Congress takes office in January.

Imagine that.

You see, Republicans smell victory in the mid-term elections. They believe they’ll comprise a Senate majority when the new Congress convenes. That makes it theoretically more problematic for the president to get a nominee confirmed. That’s how it goes these days: Democrats and Republicans look to stick it to each other, no matter what.

It also forces the president to select someone who is, um, less controversial. With Republicans holding the Senate majority, Obama will have to find a safer choice for AG than he otherwise might select.

We’ll see probably in fairly short order what the president is thinking about when to make a nomination announcement. Does he follow the advice of Republicans or does he move quickly while Democrats still run the Senate, which has to confirm whoever is nominated to be attorney general?

If this mid-term election is going to be decided in a Battle of the Political Bases — Progressives vs. Conservatives — then my guess is that the president will move sooner rather than later.

So … why not go for someone who will be as courageous and out-front on issues — such as voting rights — as Eric Holder has been?