Jeremy Beck's picture


  by  Jeremy Beck

NumbersUSA is a non-partisan, single-issue organization. This roundup is focused on Sen. Sessions' immigration positions and how the subject of immigration is handled during the confirmation hearings.

The campaign to delegitimize Senator Jeff Sessions barely reared its head on the first day of his confirmation hearing.

Politico reports: "Potentially ugly hearing becomes more of a love-fest" with even those Democrats who challenged Sessions complimenting him as a colleague and a friend.

Byron York's report, "Sessions Showdown Fizzles," says Sessions addressed the smear campaign head on. "These are damnably false charges," Sessions said in his opening remarks. Few of his colleagues appeared eager or prepared to disagree.

The National Review says Sessions was comfortable swatting down attacks on his character.

The New York Times has the bottom line

"Senate Democrats do not have the votes, by themselves, to prevent Mr. Sessions from becoming attorney general, and they have spared their colleague any vitriol, doing little to undermine his confirmation....

"....Mr. Sessions has been in the Senate for nearly 20 years and is liked by his colleagues. Moderate Republicans and at least one Democrat have said they will vote for him, which all but guarantees his confirmation."

Attacks Fall Short

Despite the likely outcome of Sessions' confirmation, Democrats are under pressure from immigration-expansionist lobbies to sully Sessions' character. The few attempts to do so yesterday fell short.

Dave Weigel of the Washington Post says Sen. Amy Klobuchar (MN) kicked an "own goal" in a backfiring attempt to use Sessions' immigration positions against him:

"Perhaps accidentally, Democrats gave Attorney General-designate Jeff Sessions an opening to discuss immigration policy - one of the issues on which the minority sees him as most potentially disruptive - in his own preferred terms....

"....'If you bring in a larger flow of labor, then it does impact adversely the wage prospects and job prospects of American citizens,' said Sessions. 'I think we should evaluate immigration on whether or not it serves the national interest, not the corporate interest. It has to serve the people's interest first.'"

Connecticut Sen. Richard Blumenthal's attack on Sessions for receiving an award from the immigration-reduction group FAIR also backfired, as it opened the door for arguably Sessions' most memorable quote of the ten-hour hearing As Politico reports: 

"As Sen. Richard Blumenthal pressed Sessions about awards he received but didn't report on a committee questionnaire, the Connecticut Democrat asked a surprisingly provocative question: 'Are there any other awards from groups that have similar kinds of ideological negative views of immigrants or of African-Americans or Muslims or others including awards that you may have received from the Ku Klux Klan?'

"'Well, I wouldn't receive it from Henry Hays, I'll tell you that. He no longer exists,' Sessions shot back, referring to a Klansman who got the death penalty in a case Sessions helped pursue. 'No, I wouldn't accept an award from the Klan.'"

Here is a video clip of the exchange.

Blumenthal's line of questioning also opened the door for Sessions to testify as to the Southern Poverty Law Center's (SPLC) active, non-objective, role in the immigration debate. Lifezette reports Sessions' comments

"'First of all, I don't know that I defer to the Southern Poverty Law Center as the final authority of who's a radical group,' he said. 'So I would first challenge that. They acknowledged publicly and have in the last few weeks that I was a strong sister to them in prosecuting the {Ku Klux} Klan, but they said they oppose me because their views on immigration. Well, I believe my views on immigration are correct, just, decent, and right.'"

Attempts to smear Sessions outside of the hearing also backfired as a culture writer for MTV was strongly condemned by CNN's Jake Tapper and other journalists for a tweet about Jeff Sessions' granddaughter

Back inside the hearing, Linsey Graham (no ally of Sessions on immigration) poked fun at a statement from 1,300 law professors opposed to Senator Sessions: 

"We're about to get an answer to the age-old question, can you be confirmed attorney general of the United States over the objection of 1,400 law professors?"

The link above includes a video clip of the room laughing. But the statement from law professors faced more serious criticism from Michael I. Krauss, professor of legal ethics, in Forbes

"The statement claims that some (it never says how many) of its signers object to Sessions' view that illegal entry into America should be prohibited. Wanting to enforce our laws is not disqualifying for an Attorney General, except perhaps in a Bizarro world....

"...Character assassination is so unworthy of our profession..."

Elsewhere, Sessions' immigration positions are defended in Religion News Service, where Professor James K. Hoffmeier makes the case that the Bible does not require nations to admit citizens of other countries who arrive without permission.

The Sessions smear took another hit yesterday when Sen. Tim Scott, the only Black Republican in the Senate endorsed Sessions

Day two of the confirmation hearing

The most-anticipated witness today was Sen. Corey Booker (NJ) who became the first U.S. Senator to testify against another U.S. Senator in a confirmation hearing. The Washington Post notes that Booker himself continues to offer praise for the man he testified against: 

"'I am really proud to have worked with Jeff Sessions on awarding that medal to those marchers,' {Booker} said. 'I am really grateful for the collegial relationship that he and I have had, the frank conversation, the decorum with which he had greeted me and I hope that he thinks I have greeted him. I met with him {Monday} with staff there, and that feeling of goodwill was there and he knew I was going to testify.'"

Tim Carney of the Washington Examiner sees a showdown between a "corporatist and a populist":

"...Sessions has clashed with tech companies who want cheaper labor, while Booker got rich off Silicon Valley while in office. The same tech companies bankroll his campaigns....

"'s one of Wall Street's favorite senators attacking one of Wall Street's least favorite."

TIME says Booker "used the afternoon to take a splashy stand and lay groundwork for a potential 2020 presidential run."

But it was Civil Rights icon John Lewis (Representative from Georgia) who briefly alluded to immigration, saying "{Sessions} will be expected to defend the rights of immigrants and affirm their human dignity, but his record indicates that he won’t." The New York Times reports that, like Booker, Lewis has not always been antagonistic towards Sessions:

"As Mr. Lewis was about to testify, Trump transition team members circulated photographs showing Mr. Sessions and Mr. Lewis marching together over the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma to commemorate the 50th anniversary of a confrontation there between civil rights marchers like Mr. Lewis, whose skull was fractured, and police officers."

CNN reports that the "Democrats failed to land any knockout blows on Session during the hearing."

JEREMY BECK is the Director of the Media Standards Project for NumbersUSA

Updated: Thu, Jan 12th 2017 @ 10:09am EST

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