Right now, Senate Democrats are engaging in an overnight marathon Senate session to disparage Senator Jeff Sessions before his confirmation vote as Attorney General. Senator Lindsey Graham spoke on the Senate floor in support of Jeff Sessions for Attorney General earlier today. Senator Graham completely destroyed the "more substantive" arguments of the Democrats against Senator Sessions.
A few highlights: first, Senator Graham fought against the charge that Senator Sessions is biased because he is too close to President Trump, whom Senator Sessions endorsed:
I would expect that the attorney general nominee know the president well before they're chosen. This idea that Senator Sessions was close to President Trump during the campaign is somehow a disqualifier makes absolutely zero sense to me. The bottom line is that's exactly the kind of people you would expect the president to pick, someone who has been on their team, someone they know, someone they believe in to carry out the duties of the offices that they're nominated for.
And he delivered a stinging rebuke:
So I don't have the time to go through history, but i would assume that in past nominations, particularly for attorney general, there's been some kind of relationship between the president who nominated and the person who's seeking the job. So if that's going to be the new standard: I would suggest that nobody in this body ever endorse anybody for president because apparently you can't serve in the cabinet. That would be kind of silly.
By this standard, President Obama would never have had a Secretary of State, as both Hillary Clinton and John Kerry would have been disqualified.
Next, he addresses the charge of racism against Senator Sessions. He exposes the charge for what it truly is: partisan politics.
I think it would be unfair to say that Senator Jeff Sessions is not qualified for the job at hand. Most of the attacks against Senator Sessions could be levied against almost everybody on this side of the aisle. Here's what I want the body to know: that in the report card of the 113th Congress, the first half, here are the [NAACP] ratings [that were used to help label Sessions racist]: Senator Grassley -- all Republicans here -- 11%, Hatch, 25%, Graham 25%, Cornyn 11%, Lee 11, Cruz 11%, Sasse -- he wasn't in the Congress; Flake 29%, Crapo 14%, Tillis and Kennedy were not rated yet. On the Democratic side of the Judiciary Committee: Feinstein 100%, Leahy is 100%, Whitehouse 100%, Klobuchar 100%, Franken 100%, Coons 96%, Blumenthal 100%, and Hirono 100%. Not only did Jeff Sessions have a poor rating, all of us did. So to my friends on the other side, you're making arguments that I don't think are good for the future of this body and the country as a whole. Because almost everything said about Jeff could be said about me and most of my colleagues over here.
Should the American Conservative Union’s (ACU) ratings have been used for Democratic Presidential nominees just as Democrats are using the NAACP for Republicans for cabinet positions? Then-Senator Clinton received an 8% rating and then-Senator Kerry received a 4% rating from ACU in the years before they were confirmed for cabinet positions.
Yet Republicans regularly voted for such low-rated nominees. However, it goes beyond ratings and charges; it goes to philosophies of the winning candidate. As Senator Graham pointed out:
It goes on. Why did I vote for [former Obama Attorney General Eric] Holder? Why did I vote for [former Obama Attorney General Loretta] Lynch? Why did I vote for [Supreme Court Justices] Sotomayor and Kagan and the list goes on and on and on? I expect that when a liberal president wins, that they will pick people who are qualified, who share their view to represent their administration. When it comes to the attorney general, you can be liberal and you can be conservative, but you still also can be fair to the public as a whole. I don't believe for one second that Jeff Sessions as Attorney General of the United States will take any of his political positions and jam them down your throat if the law says no. I have never seen that about the man. And the minority leader of the Alabama Senate, Senator Ross, African-American Democratic Minority Leader said, “I have worked with Jeff Sessions, I know him personally, and all of my encounters with him have been for the greater good of Alabama. We've spoken about everything, from civil rights to race relations. We agree that as Christian men our hearts and minds are focused on doing right by all people.”
That is the Jeff Sessions that I know. That is why I lend my support to his nomination.
Thank you, Senator Graham.