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Tag: Senate

AG Sessions’ Alleged Meeting with Russian Envoy Prompts Calls for Special Prosecutor

AG Jeff Sessions at his confirmation hearing.

AG Jeff Sessions at his confirmation hearing.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Pressure is mounting on Republicans to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate Russia’s role in the election after a bombshell revelation that Attorney General Jeff Sessions spoke twice with Russia’s ambassador to the U.S. during the election and lied about it during his confirmation hearing.

The Washington Post and New York Times reported that then-Sen. Sessions had a private conversation with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak in September, which was the peak of what intelligence officials said was a Russia cyber campaign to disrupt the U.S. presidential race.

During the campaign, Sessions was a top surrogate for the Trump campaign.

Sessions followed up with a statement Wednesday night: “I never met with any Russian officials to discuss issues of the campaign. I have no idea what this allegation is about.”

The latest revelation prompted Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., to concede that if Sessions spoke with a Russian diplomat, “then for sure you need a special prosecutor.”

Constitutional law expert Laurence Tribe said on Twitter it appears Sessions committed perjury for lying to Congress.

“Looks like it to me: it was a knowing & deliberate falsehood made under oath on a clearly pertinent matter.”

Senate Expected to Confirm Jeff Sessions as Attorney General Today

Jeff Sessions at the confirmation hearing.

Jeff Sessions at the confirmation hearing.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

President Trump’s controversial pick for attorney general, Jeff Sessions, is expected to be confirmed by the Senate Wednesday. 

Senate Democrats held a late-night session Tuesday to show opposition to Sessions because of concerns that he is racist.

If Sessions is confirmed today, he won’t have much time to celebrate. Among his biggest priorities is likely fighting on behalf of Trump’s immigration restrictions. He also is expected to help crack down on illegal immigration by increasing deportations.

Supporters say Sessions is highly qualified after serving 12 years as U.S. attorney in Alabama and two years as state attorney general.

Sen. Booker Blasts Trump’s Choice for Attorney General, Jeff Sessions

Sen. Cory Booker

Sen. Cory Booker

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Sen. Cory Booker delivered passionate testimony Wednesday that claimed Sen. Jeff Sessions would not seek justice for everyone if he was the next U.S. attorney general.

“If confirmed, Senator Sessions will be required to pursue justice for women, but his record indicates that he won’t,” the New Jersey Democrat said. “He will be expected to defend the equal rights of gay and lesbian and transgender Americans, but his record indicates that he won’t. He will be expected to defend voting rights, but his record indicates that he won’t. He will be expected to defend the rights of immigrants and affirm their human dignity, but the record indicates that he won’t.”

Despite complaints from opponents of Sessions, it appeared unlikely that Democrats could stop the Republican-controlled Senate from confirming him.

Civil Rights and immigration advocates have opposed Sessions’ appointment.

Former attorney general Michael Mukasey disagreed, saying Sessions is “thoroughly dedicated to the rule of law and the mission of the department.”

AG Candidate Jeff Sessions Expected to Be Grilled During Senate Hearing Today

Jeff Sessions

Jeff Sessions

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

President-elect Donald Trump’s choice for attorney general is expected to face fierce scrutiny Tuesday during his confirmation hearing.

Democrats, who are worried about Sessions’ civil rights record, plan to grill him on race, women’s rights and prosecutorial conduct, CNN reports. 

Despite what is expected to be a grueling two days of interrogations, Sessions likely will be confirmed because Republicans hold a majority in the Senate, and no GOP senator has openly criticized the AG candidate.

During the hearing, Sessions is expected to reveal his priorities for the Justice Department, and those likely will include combatting rising crime and addiction rates and terrorism. 

In 1986, Sessions was denied a federal judgeship following confirmation hearings that revealed he allegedly made racist remarks.

Anniston Star: Why Democrats Should Grill Sessions During Confirmation Hearing

US CapitolBy Editorial Board
Anniston Star

In October, after the exposure of a 2005 videotape featuring Donald Trump bragging about sexually assaulting women, U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Mobile, numbered among the Trump surrogates defending the candidate’s crude and creepy remarks.

There was hardly a more thankless task than trying to explain away Trump casually describing how he gets away with the unsolicited grabbing of women’s genitals.

Yet, Sessions gamely tried. Yes, the senator noted this was “very improper language.” But he also attempted to lawyer away what is and is not sexual assault. Here’s a handy definition from the Justice Department: “any type of sexual contact or behavior that occurs without the explicit consent of the recipient.”

In the aftermath of the release of the videotape, Sessions let it be known he thought the reaction was “overblown.” A typical citizen might wonder if it’s possible to overblow a tape where a major-party candidate uses vulgar language to describe female genitals. Not Sessions, though, he played the good soldier for his candidate.

This week, the Senate considers Sessions’ worthiness to serve as the next U.S. attorney general. Hearings are scheduled for today and Wednesday.

We suggest senators focus on the Trump videotape episode from October, particularly Sessions’ defense of the indefensible.

If he becomes attorney general, Sessions and the Justice Department will be tested unlike any other in modern history.

To read more click here. 

Trump’s Pick for Homeland Security Secretary to Make Case for Confirmation

Marine Gen. John Kelly

Marine Gen. John Kelly

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Donald Trump’s pick for Homeland Security secretary pledged to commit to diversity and tolerance if confirmed during a Senate hearing beginning Tuesday.

Retired Marine Gen. John Kelly is likely to be grilled about his positions following President-elect Donald Trump’s divisive, controversial statements about immigrants, Mexicans and Muslims.

Kelly will testify before the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee.

“I believe in America and the principles upon which our country and way of life are guaranteed. I believe in respect, tolerance, and diversity of opinion. I have a profound respect for the rule of law and will always strive to uphold it,” Kelly plans to tell the panel, Politico reports. “I have never had a problem speaking truth to power, and I firmly believe that those in power deserve full candor and my honest assessment and recommendations.”

Kelly plans to you his military experience and roll as a military adviser.

Other Stories of Interest

Denver Post: Senate Made Right Choice by Rejecting Warrantless FBI Searches

Data securityBy Editorial Board
Denver Post

Privacy in electronic communications stands in a precarious position, and the U.S. Senate this week might take another shot at knocking it off its perch.

Last week, the Senate came two votes shy of agreeing to permit the FBI to track Americans online without any oversight or due process. An amendment to a federal spending bill sponsored by Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., would allow the FBI to see whom you e-mail and what websites you visit without bothering to get a warrant.

The FBI already has adequate tools to investigate suspected terrorists and other criminals. Agents need only go to a judge, produce evidence for reasonable suspicion, and they’ll get a warrant faster than a defense attorney can shout “Fourth Amendment.” There’s even an exception for imminent threats.

Law enforcement and nosy federal agencies repeatedly have demonstrated that they cannot be trusted to use these sorts of powers without judicial oversight. The National Security Agency conducted a covert national surveillance system involving e-mail and phone calls. And on a more mundane level, local, state and federal law enforcement insisted they could attach GPS trackers to people’s cars without a warrant until the U.S. Supreme Court declared it unconstitutional.

Supporters of such invasions of privacy hold up ideals of public safety and fighting terrorism to justify their cause. For them, nearly any sacrifice of liberty is acceptable to reduce danger, real or hypothetical.

The most shameless among them invoke tragedies as cover.

“Our failure to act to grant this authority, particularly in the wake of this terrible tragedy in Orlando, would be inexcusable,” Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn, R-Texas, said about McCain’s amendment.

To read more click here.

Senate Rejects Legislation to Allow FBI to Search Internet Records without Warrant

computer-photoBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The Senate rejected a measure Wednesday that would allow the FBI to search e-mail records and Internet browsing histories of Americans without a warrant.

The USA Today reports the Senate was two votes short of the 60 needed to pass the legislation. The final vote was 58-38.

Last week, the House rejected legislation to ban warrantless surveillance of Americans’ electronic communications.

“In the wake of the tragic massacre in Orlando, it is important our law enforcement have the tools they need to conduct counterterrorism investigations and track ‘lone wolves,’ or (Islamic State)-inspired terrorists who do not have direct connections to foreign terrorist organizations but who seek to harm Americans,” Sen. John McCain said.

But Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., said the bill “won’t make our country safer, but it will take away crucial checks and balances that protect our freedom.”

“FBI agents will be able to demand the records of what websites you look at online, who you email and chat with, and your text message logs, with no judicial oversight whatsoever,” Wyden said. “The reality is the FBI already has the power to demand these electronic records with a court order under the Patriot Act. In emergencies, the FBI can even obtain the records right away and go to a judge after the fact. This isn’t about giving law-enforcement new tools, it’s about the FBI not wanting to do paperwork.”

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