Saturday, April 15, 2017

Slow Saturday Flashback: Final Sessions

"Trump’s picks so far show a swing to the right" by Astead W. Herndon Globe Staff  November 19, 2016

WASHINGTON — President-elect Donald Trump made his first Cabinet selection Friday, tapping Senator Jeff Sessions, the conservative hard-liner and Trump loyalist from Alabama who has previously confronted accusations of racism, to be his nominee for attorney general.

I was told he is an unlikely pick.

“Jeff has been a highly respected member of the US Senate for 20 years,” Trump said in a statement from Trump Tower in Manhattan, which has been a hive of transition activity. “He is a world-class legal mind . . . and is greatly admired by legal scholars and virtually everyone who knows him.”

The prospect of Sessions at the helm of the Justice Department triggered an immediate firestorm among liberal lawmakers and civil rights organizations, who spent Friday denouncing Trump’s choice and relitigating Sessions’ controversial history on civil and voting rights.

In addition to Sessions, Trump also named retired Lieutenant General Michael Flynn as his national security adviser. Flynn is a darling of the far-right who once said in a tweet that the fear of all Muslims is “rational.”

Was he?

Democrats seek investigation into national security adviser
White House declines to publicly defend embattled Flynn
After days of furor, top security official Michael Flynn resigns
Flynn incident pressures GOP on Russia probe California Representative Devin Nunes, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee and a member of Trump’s transition team, said he was more concerned that the FBI was recording Flynn’s call with the Russian ambassador. “I expect for the FBI to tell me what is going on, and they better have a good answer,” he told The Washington Post. “The big problem I see here is that you have an American citizen who had his phone calls recorded.” 

That was the start of the Obama spying scandal and unmasking of Trump nominees. Need an independent probe for that.

Trump reportedly knew Flynn misled White House weeks before ouster

That was a big fat yellow light, cutting him loose like that. No loyalty from Trump, who demands sycophantic obedience from his underlings.

Flynn denied discussion of sanctions to FBI in the face of the contents of intercepted communications collected by intelligence agencies.

Flynn, Kushner met Russian ambassador at Trump Tower in December

Have you seen what it looks like up there?

Michael Flynn was paid $500,000 to represent Turkey during campaign
Flynn discussing immunity for testimony on Russia
Is Flynn bluffing? Or does he really have a story to tell?

Haven't seen a word since.

Representative Michael Pompeo, a Republican House member from Kansas, was selected as the nominee to lead the CIA. To serve, Sessions and Pompeo must be confirmed by the Senate. Democrats, when they had the majority in 2013, changed Senate rules to eliminate the filibuster for high-level nominations, so both men stand a strong chance of winning confirmation.

Pompeo not listened to regarding recent chemical weapons charge in Syria.

For some, the combination of Sessions, Flynn, and an earlier pick, former Breitbart News chairman Steve Bannon as chief White House strategist, established a troubling trend for the president-elect. Rather than sending conciliatory signals with his picks, or reaching out to skeptical Democrats, Trump is naming loyal figures who are inflaming racial and partisan divides. 

Bannon on the outs because he was only one in room to say bombing Syria a bad idea.

Sessions’ confirmation hearings promise to reignite debates about Trump’s racially divisive campaign and the incoming administration’s approach to immigrations and minorities.

In 1986, the Senate Judiciary Committee rejected Sessions’ nomination for a federal judgeship after accusations that the former federal prosecutor had made racist comments, including that he called a black assistant US attorney “boy,” and said the Ku Klux Klan was “OK.”

During his confirmation hearing, Sessions apologized after former colleagues said he called the NAACP, American Civil Liberties Union, and other civil rights organizations “un-American” and “communist-inspired.”

Sessions has repeatedly denied allegations of racism and has defended his comments to colleagues as friendly banter.

Cornell William Brooks, president of the NAACP, implored the Senate to reject Sessions’ nomination.

“This is not the time for the US Senate to develop a case of post-election amnesia,” Brooks said in an interview Friday. “Donald Trump does not have a mandate to take this country backwards. That mandate does not exist.”

Senator Elizabeth Warren, Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, and other Massachusetts political leaders joined in calling for the rejection of Sessions’ nomination.

I'm sure there is some sort of karmic justice at work.

“Thirty years ago, a different Republican Senate rejected Senator Sessions’ nomination to a federal judgeship,” Warren said. “In doing so, that Senate affirmed that there can be no compromise with racism, no negotiation with hate. Today, a new Republican Senate must decide whether self-interest and political cowardice will prevent them from once again doing what is right.”

The incoming minority leader in the Senate, Democrat Chuck Schumer of New York, struck a slightly more neutral tone about Sessions, although he expressed concerns about Sessions’ commitment to civil rights enforcement at the Justice Department. Democrats “want to hear what he has to say,” Schumer said in a statement.

Born Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III and sharing names with two Confederate heroes, the 69-year-old has been an uncompromising conservative firebrand in the Senate.

A former US attorney and state attorney general in Alabama, Sessions was elected in 1996.

In February, Sessions was the first senator to publicly endorse Trump’s unlikely presidential campaign, becoming a trusted surrogate and close adviser to the New York real estate mogul, who needed a link to Washington. Since Trump’s upset victory, Sessions has been considered a virtual lock to receive a key Cabinet nomination.

Sessions being rewarded for loyalty, was told he had pick of job he wanted.

“Jeff Sessions great pick for AG,” tweeted another Trump supporter, former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee. “He was a bold voice . . . when other GOP figures were ready to give away the country.”

In a statement released by the Trump transition team, Sessions thanked the president-elect for the nomination, and alluded to his upcoming nomination fight. Sessions promised to “give all my strength to advance the department’s highest ideals.”

“I enthusiastically embrace President-elect Trump’s vision for ‘one America,’ and his commitment to equal justice under law,” Sessions said in the statement. “I look forward to fulfilling my duties with an unwavering dedication to fairness and impartiality.”

In response to critics, Sessions supporters cite an investigation led by Sessions when he was US attorney in Alabama, of the 1981 murder of a black man who was kidnapped, beaten, and killed by two Klansmen who hanged his body in a tree. The two men were later arrested and convicted.

‘‘He couldn’t have been more supportive of making sure we got convicted the murderers of the last black man who was lynched by the Klan,’’ former Justice Department attorney Barry Kowalski, who worked with Sessions, told the Associated Press.

But the Congressional Black Caucus released a statement saying Sessions was unfit to serve as the country’s chief law enforcement officer. Black Caucus chairman G.K. Butterfield, a Democrat from North Carolina, called Sessions’ record on civil rights “appalling” and said it should disqualify him from Senate confirmation.

“The Congressional Black Caucus stands ready to oppose Senator Sessions’ confirmation as we adamantly believe his appointment will set us back in the advancement of civil rights and race relations across the country,” Butterfield said.

Healey, the Massachusetts attorney general, said Sessions has “made a career standing against many of our most important values as a state.” Many have wondered whether state initiatives will be challenged legally under a Sessions-led Justice Department. Massachusetts recently approved recreational marijuana and implemented early voting.

The late Senator Edward M. Kennedy, who staunchly opposed Sessions’ appointment to the US District Court in 1986, called Sessions a “throwback to a shameful era.’’

“It is inconceivable to me that a person of this attitude is qualified to be a US attorney, let alone a US federal judge,” Kennedy said at the time.

A voice from the grave....


.... being channeled through her:

"Warren asks Trump to withdraw AG nominee or face fight in Senate" by Stephanie Ebbert Globe Staff  November 19, 2016

US Senator Elizabeth Warren, who has emerged as a leading liberal counterpoint to the incoming Trump administration and Republican-led Congress, issued a fierce rallying cry to more than 400 female policymakers, nonprofit leaders, and activists who had gathered for the New England Women’s Policy Conference at UMass Boston.

Seizing upon their frustration with Trump’s election, Warren urged them to push back against the dangers she perceives in an incoming Trump administration and told them their work would be needed now more than ever.

“We will be tested as a nation,” Warren said. “History calls on us. This is our time to stand and fight for our principles.”

In the antiwar tradition of women, right?

America needs to stand by two core values — that every human being deserves respect and that everyone deserves economic opportunity, not just those at the top, Warren said.

“We believe that our government has a role in both of those,” Warren said. “President-elect Trump threatens both of these core values.”

Warren has hammered Trump on all of his initial appointees. She described his pick for White House chief strategist and senior counselor, former Breitbart News chief Stephen Bannon, as a “white supremacist.”

She must be happy he is being eased out by a Jewish supremacist.

As for Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama, she noted he was rejected for a judgeship years earlier, because “openly racist statements disqualified him.” Sessions’ nomination by President Reagan was blocked by a Republican-controlled Judiciary Committee in 1986 after he was accused of making racist remarks during his time as US attorney in Alabama.

As attorney general, she noted, he would be the nation’s chief law enforcement officer, overseeing the civil rights division, enforcing laws around voting rights, immigration policy, and housing discrimination.

“There can be no compromise with racism,” Warren said. “There can be no negotiation with bigotry.”

Unless it's Jewish supremacy.

Warren also spoke up for women earlier in the day, taking a swipe at Trump and Mitt Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, in a Twitter post that showed that almost all of those Trump is believed to be considering for Cabinet positions are men.

As if "women" were this monolithic group with Warren the mouthpiece.

Romney is expected to meet with Trump this weekend. Asked about the meeting, Warren said: “I don’t know what Donald Trump is trying to do here. Is he just looking for some validation?” she said.

However, Warren added that she would find it “very difficult for a man who said the things, on videotape, that Mitt Romney said, to turn around and say he’s going to support him. I just don’t see how that happens. I genuinely cannot understand that.”


Romney says his talk with Trump was ‘far-reaching’
Romney was ‘more than a little surprised’ regarding Trump’s interest
After dinner, Romney says Trump gives him ‘increasing hope’
Did Mitt Romney get played by the king of reality TV?

What a sorry sack of sh**.

Warren’s appearance was timely for many of the women in the room who had been crushed to see Hillary Clinton, the first female presidential nominee for a major party, lose to a man accused of denigrating, objectifying, and physically groping women.

“You’re in a room of women who’ve had a tough 10 days,” Ann Bookman, the director of the Center for Women in Politics and Public Policy at UMass Boston, told Warren as she introduced her to the crowd as their “heroine.”

“This is exactly what a lot of us needed: to organize, gather our thoughts, and think about what we have to do to move forward,” said Emily Hajjar, a legislative aide on Beacon Hill. “It’s not the outcome we wanted, but we just have to fight even harder.”

Wearing a T-shirt that said “The future is female,” Bianca Ortiz-Wythe, said she felt the need to be surrounded by positive, active women who were willing to listen to others.

“We’re in for a long fight,” said Ortiz-Wythe, a doctoral student in public policy. “We need to look toward each other for support and solidarity.”

Warren used the disappointment as a motivator, saying activists’ work is more important than ever.

“The time for whimpering, the time for whining, the time for crying is over,” Warren told them. “It is time to fight back.”

While playing identity politics, boo-hoo-hoo!


Time to close the book on her:

"Warren avoids party infighting in her new book" by Victoria McGrane Globe Staff  April 15, 2017

CAMBRIDGE — The book’s overall thesis suggests that Warren is not enamored with the economic message delivered by the Obama administration, and subsequently pushed by Clinton. But she stops short of explicitly saying this strategy lost the Democrats the 2016 election.

SeeNo Longer a Labor of Love

That's when they lost me.

She also sheds no new light on her reasons for withholding her endorsement of Clinton in the Democratic primary race until nearly the end, when it was virtually over. She simply repeats the talking points she used at the time.

Asked by a Globe reporter Friday whether, in hindsight, she thinks Sanders — whom she describes in glowing terms in the book — could have beaten Trump, Warren answered, “I don’t know.”

I do. He would have clobbered him (326-212, imho).

Could Warren have beaten Trump? “I don’t know,’’ she replied.


Among the goals she believes Democrats should push now: breaking up the biggest banks.

During the campaign, Trump called for restoring the Depression-era division between plain-vanilla banking and riskier investment activities, known as the Glass-Steagall Act.

Warren has written a bill with Arizona Republican John McCain that would impose a modern version of those restrictions.

And? (Reid blocked the bill when Dems were in charge).

Warren said she recently pressed top White House economic adviser Gary Cohn, a former top executive at Goldman Sachs, about the bill and whether Trump planned to make good on his campaign pledge. Cohn was supportive.

“He was feisty about it,” Warren said, recounting the closed-door meeting of lawmakers on the Banking Committee. “When some of the Republicans in the room pushed back on him, he pushed back at them.”

Cohn is one of the core advisers now, and he's a former president of Goldman Sachs and a liberal Democrat that is viewed as a bit of a wild card.

Warren also revels in holding Trump’s feet to the fire on his ties to Wall Street.

Her book ends with the Women’s March in Boston in January and thus stops before one of the most memorable recent skirmishes in her battle with Republicans — when Senate Republicans, led by Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell, voted to formally silence her during debate over the nomination of Jeff Sessions to be attorney general.

The moment went viral and earned Warren a round of generally favorable national press coverage — not to mention a fresh flood of campaign contributions from her national network.

It also, apparently, has earned her an enduring cold-shoulder from McConnell.

“I’ve spoken to him, but he has not spoken to me,” Warren said, laughing in a disbelieving way, shaking her head. “I say hello to Mitch every chance I get, and he turns his head.”

Yeah, McConnell hasn't talked to her since the confirmation.


Also see:

Anachronistic Senate rule muzzles debate
The GOP’s hypocrisy in shutting up Elizabeth Warren
Nobody puts Elizabeth Warren in a corner
Did Mitch McConnell just launch Elizabeth Warren’s presidential campaign?

Related: Coretta Scott King Thanked Jeff Sessions for Rosa Parks Library! 

That was in 2000! 

Anybody remember Robert Byrd?

"Jeff Sessions says he’d defy Trump as attorney general if needed" by Victoria McGrane Globe Staff  January 10, 2017

WASHINGTON — Donald Trump’s nominee for attorney general, Senator Jeff Sessions, sought to dispel Democrats’ portrayal of him as a conservative zealot Tuesday, denying during his Senate confirmation hearing that he harbored racist views, and vowing to step aside in any criminal probes of Hillary Clinton.

The courtly Alabama senator remained composed throughout the 10-hour hearing, his deep-South twang mostly steady, despite being interrupted multiple times by protesters and facing tough questions from Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee. He was peppered on his views and positions on a range of issues, and differed from the president-elect’s proposals to ban Muslims from entering the country and to bring waterboarding back for terrorism investigations.

Thirty years after allegations of race-motivated prosecutions and comments sunk his nomination for a federal judgeship, the former federal prosecutor and Alabama state attorney general also called those accusations “damnably false.”

“This caricature of me in 1986 was not correct,” said Sessions, an early and loyal supporter of Trump. The nominee’s actions as a federal prosecutor in Alabama are expected to be the focus again Wednesday when his confirmation hearing continues.

Though none of the Democrats sounded likely to support his nomination, their approach Tuesday suggested they had decided Sessions isn’t worth an all-out partisan war. Democrats don’t control enough votes to defeat any of Trump’s nominees on their own, but in the case of Sessions they did not seem inclined Tuesday to make it hard for their Republican colleagues to support him. 

So it's all a SHOW, huh?

They did not dwell on the allegations of racism from three decades ago.

Yeah, that is only for you out there as a wedge of division and distraction. Senate doesn't care about that!!

Instead, senators in the minority party focused on pinning him down on how far he would go in carrying out Trump’s policy vision if confirmed to be the nation’s top law enforcement official.

Their big concern? The alleged Muslim registry; problem is, already have one.

Senator Susan M. Collins, a Republican of Maine and the most moderate GOP senator, introduced Sessions Tuesday as “a dedicated public servant and a decent man,” as television cameras captured Sessions holding his young granddaughter in his lap. Collins listed Sessions’s work to convict two Ku Klux Klan members of murdering a black teen as one of several examples that he is not a man “motivated by racial animus.”

The panel’s chairman, Chuck Grassley of Iowa, directing the first round of questions, quickly brought up Sessions’s comments on the campaign trail about Clinton’s e-mail scandal and the Clinton Foundation. In an exchange, Sessions said to address concerns about the comments he made in a “contentious campaign,” he would formally recuse himself from any further investigations of those issues.

Another backtrack by Trump.

“I believe that would be the best approach for the country because we can never have a political dispute turn into a criminal dispute,” Sessions said.

Especially if Obama spied on your phone calls.

The nominee’s answers throughout the day projected a consistent theme — that he would vigorously uphold the law, even where he disagreed with it, and even if it brought him in conflict with the president.

The attorney general “must be willing to tell the president ‘No’ if he overreaches. He or she cannot be a mere rubberstamp,” Sessions said in his opening statement.

Then you could be out of a job!

Sessions is known as one of the most hard-line conservatives on immigration in Congress and has fought against all the major bipartisan efforts to overhaul the current system. But he defended his record on immigration when Senator Dick Durbin, an Illinois Democrat, characterized Sessions’s views as inhumane.

“I do believe that if you continually go through a cycle of amnesty, that you undermine the respect for the law and encourage more illegal immigration,” Sessions said, growing somewhat heated.

“The American people spoke clearly in this election; I believe they agreed with my basic view, and I think it’s a good view, a decent view, a solid legal view . . . that we create a lawful system of immigration,” he continued, stabbing his index finger into the table.


It’s unclear how quickly the Senate will move to vote on Sessions’s nomination. Unlike several of Trump’s picks, Sessions has all of his financial disclosures and ethics paperwork in order.

Concerns about Sessions’s commitment to protect civil rights hung over the proceedings. Protests started shortly after Sessions entered the marble-covered hearing room, which debuted as the setting for the 1912 hearings on the Titanic’s sinking.

We were lied to about that, too?!!

Two men in the audience jumped on their chairs wearing white robes and peaked hoods reminiscent of the Klu Klux Klan, yelling that Sessions is a racist as they were dragged from the room by Capitol police officers.

“This man is evil!” a woman dressed as a pink Statue of Liberty, a member of the group Code Pink, screamed as she was muscled out of the room later in the morning.

How did they get in there? 

Answer: tickets from Congre$$ to provide the illusion of protest and freedom with controlled opposition.

Sessions’s nomination has revived decades-old accusations that as a federal prosecutor in Alabama he pursued a voting fraud case against three black civil rights leaders in 1985 for racially motivated reasons.

That the Senate committee didn't care about.

Former Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick was one of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund lawyers who won the case against Sessions, and then testified against him in the 1986 Senate hearing. Last week, Patrick renewed his concerns about Sessions in a letter to the Judiciary Committee.

In that 1986 confirmation hearing, Sessions also was also accused of making racist remarks. On Tuesday he forcefully denied both, admitting that 30 years ago he didn’t do a very good job of defending himself.

“I never declared the NAACP was ‘un-American’ or that a [white] civil rights attorney was a disgrace to his race” for representing black clients, he said as part of his opening statement that preemptively touched on the major race-related charges raised three decades earlier.

As for the voting fraud case, Sessions said he brought it in response to complaints from black voters that their absentee ballots had been changed against their will.

“I conducted myself honorably and properly at that time,” he said. “I did not harbor the kind of animosities and race-based discrimination ideas that I was accused of. I did not.”

Underscoring the intensity of the civil rights community’s enduring feelings about Sessions is the witness list for second day of the hearing. Senator Corey Booker, a New Jersey Democrat, will be among those to testify against Sessions — in what his office described as the first time in the history of the clubby Senate that a sitting senator will testify against a colleague.

Representative John Lewis of Georgia, the civil rights icon, and NAACP president Cornell Brooks are among the other African-American leaders testifying against Sessions Wednesday.


And the next day's article: Page A10 lower right corner! 

"Sessions has solid support from the Senate’s Republican majority, and from some Democrats in conservative-leaning states, and is expected to easily win confirmation, but Democrats are using the hearings to try to show that Sessions — and Trump’s administration — won’t be committed to civil rights, a chief priority of the Justice Department during the Obama administration. Not everyone on the panel criticized Sessions. Three men who had worked with Sessions in Alabama and Washington, all black, testified in support. Jesse Seroyer, a former US marshal for the Middle District of Alabama, said Sessions is a ‘‘good honest person who is going to give all he has to make sure everyone is treated fairly under the law.’’

Also see:

"In Mobile, where he became a local Republican Party leader and federal prosecutor, Sessions’ longtime friends speak fondly of a polite Eagle Scout and devoutly religious man. ‘‘The man I know is an upright individual,’’ said Mobile Mayor Sandy Stimpson, who met Sessions before either held elected office. ‘‘He is eminently qualified.’’ Greg Griffin, a black Alabama judge who worked as a state attorney when Sessions was Alabama attorney general, said Sessions ‘‘always treated me with respect’’ and called him ‘‘one of the best bosses I ever had.’’

I'm taking their word over the Senate gasbags and show hearings.

Then, after some delay and hurt feelings, the committee approved the nomination and he was confirmed. Soon after, they are already calling for his resignation because he spoke to the Russian ambassador as a member of the Senate Armed Services committee? The same ambassador that met with many Democrats, including the most vociferous critics? Must be why that call went away right quick. I'm sure she will be driving him crazy the next four years.

End of Session.


Why did Warren blast a hedge fund manager who has criticized Trump?

From Senator Warren, a regret

Under pressure, Sessions recuses himself from campaign probes

Trump adviser shared secrets without permission

They knew about it all way back in December?