Thursday, January 12, 2017

'We Cannot Count on Him': Cory Booker Testifies Against Sessions

Senator Cory Booker
By Cortney O'Brien
Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) made history on Wednesday by being the first sitting senator to testify against a fellow senator being considered for a presidential cabinet position. Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) is in his second day of hearings on his path to becoming the next attorney general.
Somewhat awkwardly, several media outlets dug up some old footage of Booker actually praising Sessions for working with him on giving out a civil rights award to voting rights foot soldiers. The New Jersey senator made reference to that joint effort in his remarks on Wednesday and said that he and Sessions have always exercised mutual respect for one another.
Yet, he went on to argue that Sessions has no intention to pursue civil rights in the Trump administration.
Booker acknowledged that it’s “exceptional” for him to testify at the hearing and to break with Senate tradition, but believes in standing up for what his conscience tells him.
As someone who grew up in high crime neighborhoods, Booker said he knows what these vulnerable communities need in an attorney general. They need a leader who not only secures law and order, but justice for all.
“If there is no justice, there is no peace,” Booker said.
Sen. Sessions has not committed to a congressional mandate of civil rights and justice for all, Booker argued. Several times, he has actually demonstrated “hostility” to these aims. If confirmed, Sessions will be expected to pursue justice for women and for LGBT Americans, Booker continued. He will be expected to defend voting rights, and the human dignity of immigrants. He will be expected to pursue criminal justice reform and weed out racial bias in policing.
“Sessions’ record indicates” that he won’t do any of the above, Booker lamented.
The next attorney general must bring hope and healing and a “more courageous empathy” than Sessions’ record demonstrates.
“We cannot count on him,” Booker concluded.


Graham Accuses NAACP of Anti-GOP Bias at Sessions' Confirmation Hearing
Senator Lindsey Graham
By Leah Barkoukis
After NAACP President Cornell Brooks testified against Sen. Jeff Sessions at Wednesday’s confirmation hearing, Sen. Lindsey Graham called out the organization for its anti-Republican bias.
Brooks said during his testimony that Sessions’ record “evinces a clear disregard, disrespect, and even disdain for the civil and human rights of racial and ethnic minorities, women, the disabled, and others who suffer from discrimination in this country.”
“Based on his record and his statements, the NAACP strongly believes that confirmation of Senator Sessions as attorney general would be bad for America and could exacerbate already deepening racial divisions in this country.”
Graham later asked the organization’s president what Sessions’ score was on the NAACP’s legislative score card.
“The senator has received a low grade, a failing grade, for years on end,” Brooks responded.
Graham went into specifics, noting that he and his Republican colleagues all had scores in the teens or low 20s. Alternatively, though, many of his Democratic colleagues had ratings of 100 percent—a disparity he found “really odd.”
“I think it speaks for itself,” said Graham. “I hope that doesn’t make us all racist and all of them perfect on the issue.”
He then asked Brooks to give the name of one Republican who would make a good attorney general, to which the NAACP leader had nothing to say.