Ses­sions hear­ing will not be de­layed, Grass­ley says

Fe­in­stein raises con­cern over amount of time to re­view doc­u­ments.

The Washington Times Daily - - FRONT PAGE - BY AN­DREA NO­BLE

Sen. Chuck Grass­ley says he will not de­lay the sched­uled con­fir­ma­tion hear­ing of at­tor­ney gen­eral nom­i­nee Jeff Ses­sions, dis­miss­ing ac­cu­sa­tions that the ma­te­ri­als sub­mit­ted by the Alabama Repub­li­can se­na­tor are both “in­com­plete” and too vo­lu­mi­nous to re­view by Jan. 10.

The Senate Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee chair­man re­sponded Wed­nes­day to con­cerns raised by Sen. Dianne Fe­in­stein about the amount of time of­fi­cials will have to re­view doc­u­ments Mr. Ses­sions has sub­mit­ted as part of the nom­i­na­tion ques­tion­naire.

A coali­tion of civil rights groups also has pushed for a de­lay, say­ing the sub­mit­ted ma­te­rial “lacks hun­dreds of en­tries that should have been in­cluded and is woe­fully in­ad­e­quate in its cur­rent form.”

Ms. Fe­in­stein said the more than 150,000 pages of doc­u­ments sub­mit­ted by Mr. Ses­sions is far more than the 1,500 pages sub­mit­ted for re­view by At­tor­ney Gen­eral Loretta E. Lynch or the 5,100 pages sub­mit­ted by former At­tor­ney Gen­eral Eric Holder. She re­quested the date of the hear­ing be pushed back to al­low ad­e­quate time for re­view.

“I am sure you would agree that staff must have suf­fi­cient time to do the due dili­gence on any nom­i­nee for this vi­tal po­si­tion — and this due dili­gence will likely take longer than the re­view for re­cent, prior nom­i­nees who had less ma­te­ri­als to an­a­lyze,” the Cal­i­for­nia Demo­crat wrote this week to Mr. Grass­ley.

But not­ing Mr. Ses­sions’ nearly two decades in the Senate, his time as a U.S. at­tor­ney in Alabama and his ten­ure as the state’s at­tor­ney gen­eral, Mr. Grass­ley said many of the doc­u­ments pro­duced are speeches and writ­ings that have been pub­licly avail­able — in­clud­ing Senate floor speeches and state­ments made at com­mit­tee meet­ings.

“Un­like pre­vi­ous nom­i­nees whose records were largely un­known to the Com­mit­tee, Se­na­tor Ses­sions is well known to all of us,” Mr. Grass­ley, Iowa Repub­li­can, wrote in a re­sponse Wed­nes­day to Ms. Fe­in­stein. “Far from de­lay­ing our re­view, Se­na­tor Ses­sions’ ex­ten­sive pub­lic record — in­clud­ing ser­vice known per­son­ally to mem­bers of this Com­mit­tee — should aid the de­ter­mi­na­tion of his char­ac­ter and qual­i­fi­ca­tions for this high of­fice on a time­line con­sis­tent with prior nom­i­na­tions, if not ear­lier.”

Groups seek­ing to de­lay the con­fir­ma­tion hear­ing have be­gun to point out speeches and other de­tails from Mr. Ses­sions’ years as a pub­lic ser­vant that he ne­glected to in­clude in his con­fir­ma­tion ques­tion­naire.

The pro­gres­sive ad­vo­cacy group Peo­ple For the Amer­i­can Way noted that Mr. Ses­sions did not men­tion his failed 1986 nom­i­na­tion as a fed­eral judge in a sec­tion of the ques­tion­naire ask­ing for a de­scrip­tion of his em­ploy­ment record and “any un­suc­cess­ful can­di­da­cies you have had for elec­tive of­fice or un­suc­cess­ful nom­i­na­tions for ap­pointed of­fices.”

Al­le­ga­tions of racism emerged when Mr. Ses­sions was nom­i­nated for a judge­ship; he was ac­cused dur­ing his time as a U.S. at­tor­ney of hav­ing called a black as­sis­tant U.S. at­tor­ney “boy,” a charge he de­nied. Wit­nesses also re­called Mr. Ses­sions re­fer­ring to the Amer­i­can Civil Lib­er­ties Union and the NAACP as “un-Amer­i­can” and “com­mu­nist-in­spired,” char­ac­ter­i­za­tions he has not dis­puted.

Peo­ple For the Amer­i­can Way, the NAACP, Hu­man Rights Cam­paign and oth­ers also have sought to point out gaps in the doc­u­ments Mr. Ses­sions has sub­mit­ted, not­ing there is no record of speeches be­fore 1999 or af­ter June 2016.

Ms. Fe­in­stein also had raised spe­cific ques­tions about speeches and doc­u­ments Mr. Ses­sions failed to sub­mit — in­clud­ing a 2007 speech to the Fed­er­a­tion for Amer­i­can Im­mi­gra­tion Re­form. She also ques­tioned whether his de­scrip­tion of work on po­lit­i­cal cam­paigns is de­tailed enough.

Mr. Grass­ley noted that law­mak­ers fre­quently speak at events with­out pre­pared re­marks and that Mr. Ses­sions had sub­mit­ted a list of speeches for which there were no writ­ten notes.

“Se­na­tor Ses­sions has nev­er­the­less pro­duced hun­dreds of pages of such re­marks, pro­vid­ing plenty of ma­te­rial to aid us in our re­view of his record and char­ac­ter,” Mr. Grass­ley wrote, adding that it is not un­usual for a nom­i­nee to later sup­ple­ment the record.

Mr. Grass­ley said he in­tends to stick with a nom­i­na­tion hear­ing that will span Jan. 10-11.


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