Senator Al Franken is the only member of the Senate Judiciary Committee who did not go to law school, but he used that lack of professional legal experience to highlight how Jeff Sessions may have inflated his role in a number of civil rights cases.
In his first round of questions during the confirmation hearing, Franken said that to a “layman” him saying he “filed” the cases “sounds” like he led the prosecutorial effort. Sessions admitted that he didn’t, but still maintained that his “advice and guidance” were commended by the very attorneys who wrote an op-ed revealing his limited role in these civil rights matters.
Franken also challenged Sessions for saying he filed “20 or 30” cases to desegregate Alabama schools, a claim that was patently false. Sessions laughed off the mistake, saying that the lives of the cases he meant lasted from before his time as Alabama Attorney General and after.
The former Saturday Night Live writer told the would-be Attorney General that the DOJ “is facing real challenges, whether it’s protecting civil rights or defending national security, and our country needs an attorney general who doesn’t misrepresent or inflate their level of involvement on any given issue.”
In his second round of questions, Franken focused on voter fraud today, given Sessions’s history with prosecuting a controversial voter fraud case.
Franken focused on the tweet from Donald Trump that claimed millions of people voted illegally. While Sessions would not cosign that estimate, he did say that he believes voter fraud exists in a significant way, despite all of the evidence to the contrary.
Finally, before starting his second round of questions, Franken addressed an outraged Sen. Ted Cruz who chastised Democrats for staying “silent” in the face of a number of scandals, amounting to simple political showmanship. Franken pointed out that after submitting his questionnaire, Sessions amended it with a clarification about his role in those civil rights cases. Something Franken says he wouldn’t done if the truth was a “distinction without a difference.”
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