U.S. Attorney General

What They Vote For (Yellowhammer Special)

#supremacism | #WhatTheyVotedFor

Lebanon's memories: Pictures of Lebanon's family, in happier days. (Detail of frame from Darker Than Black: Gemini of the Meteor, episode 5, "Gunsmoke Blows, Life Flows...")

This is the sort of thing only voters can achieve:

Rep. Mo Brooks is moving on after a distant third-place finish in the Republican primary on Tuesday for the Alabama Senate special election.

And Brooks is doing that without endorsing either of the two men, Judge Roy Moore and appointed Sen. Luther Strange, who beat him to enter a runoff on Sept. 26 to decide the GOP nominee.

(Connolly)

More precisely: After rejecting Rep. Mo Brooks to replace Attorney General and former U.S. Senator Jeff Sessions, voters find themselves presented with a choice between the disgraceful Luther Strange and the disgraced Roy Moore, and history reminds that state voters have already re-elected the twice-disgraced former Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court after his first tumble from grace for abuse of authority. What chance does Luther Strange have? All he ever did was take his dispute against human rights, on behalf of religious supremacism, to the Supreme Court and lose.

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#WhatTheyVotedFor (Corruption Conundrum)

#PutiTrump | #WhatTheyVotedFor

&#;35PutiTrump

The basic conundrum, the New York Times explained Tuesday night:

By firing the F.B.I. director, James Comey, late Tuesday afternoon, President Trump has cast grave doubt on the viability of any further investigation into what could be one of the biggest political scandals in the country’s history.

The explanation for this shocking move—that Mr. Comey’s bungling of the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s private email server violated longstanding Justice Department policy and profoundly damaged public trust in the agency—is impossible to take at face value. Certainly Mr. Comey deserves all the criticism heaped upon him for his repeated missteps in that case, but just as certainly, that’s not the reason Mr. Trump fired him.

Mr. Comey was fired because he was leading an active investigation that could bring down a president. Though compromised by his own poor judgment, Mr. Comey’s agency has been pursuing ties between the Russian government and Mr. Trump and his associates, with potentially ruinous consequences for the administration.

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A Brief Sketch (Not Quite Caviar)

#nihil | #WhatTheyVotedFor

U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), January, 2014. (AP Photo)

We should probably sketch this detail of the cycle:

• Press Secretary defends Attorney General:

Sessions called the report “false” in a statement last night, saying he “never met with any Russian officials to discuss issues of the campaign.” He repeated this morning that he would recuse himself wherever it is appropriate to do so.

However, Spicer said that would not apply in this case.

“There’s nothing to recuse himself [from]. He was 100% straight with the committee,” said Spicer, adding that Democrats should be “ashamed of themselves” for playing “partisan politics” on this issue.

(FOX News)

• President defends Attorney General:

President Trump defended Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Thursday night, insisting that the former Alabama senator “did not say anything wrong” amid swirling criticism over his testimony earlier this year about contacts with Russian officials.

Trump appeared to be referring to Sessions’ statements before the Senate Judiciary Committee during his confirmation, when Sessions said he had not spoken to Russian officials. It was revealed this week that Sessions twice spoke with Russia’s ambassador to the U.S. last year.

“Jeff Sessions is an honest man. He did not say anything wrong,” Trump said in a statement posted on Facebook. “He could have stated his response more accurately, but it was clearly not intentional.”

(Greenwood)

• The Attorney General runs to FOX News for a friendly interview:

Sessions explained that the question he received from Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) at his January confirmation hearing focused specifically on whether he had spoken with Russia continually about the presidential campaign. While Sessions has now admitted he met twice with the Russian ambassador last year, he said they did not have any such conversations about political campaigns.

Why, though, Carlson wondered, did former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn’s own Russian scandal not raise any red flags with him? After all, Flynn was eventually pressured to resign.

“It was never a thought,” Sessions insisted. It was “unrelated.”

The Russian officials and any one else in the room at the times of his meetings would corroborate that he “did not say one thing that was improper.”

(O’Brien)

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The Republican (ahem!) “Quandary”

Loretta Lynch, President Obama's nominee to be the next attorney general, meets with Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-VT, at the Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, Dec. 2, 2014. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Toss a coin; is the problem the political reporting or the politics? Consider a lede from Jonathan Weisman and Jennifer Steinhauer for the New York Times:

Senate Republicans bolted for a two-week spring recess with the confirmation of Loretta E. Lynch as attorney general in jeopardy, and themselves in a quandary: Accept a qualified nominee they oppose because she backs President Obama’s policies or reject her and live with an attorney general they despise, Eric H. Holder Jr.

See, that’s pabulum. But, to the other, whence comes it? After all, U.S Attorney Loretta Lynch has seen her nomination to succeed Eric Holder as Attorney General languish, though Senate Republicans are hard pressed to come up with a reason.

But, still, really? This is like a children’s book―And then the poor Senator had to choose …―except, come on, it wouldn’t make any sense even to children.

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Not Surprising (Lazy Days Delays Mix)

Loretta Lynch, President Obama's nominee to be the next attorney general, meets with Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-VT, at the Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, Dec. 2, 2014. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

The news shouldn’t be surprising; Senate leadership has once again pushed back any prospect of a confirmation vote for Attorney General nominee Loretta Lynch. The situation as it stands in the wake of reports that mid-April will be the earliest possibility for a vote:

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest told reporters yesterday, “The continued delay is unconscionable.”

Note, the problem is not that Republicans have imposed a blanket blockade on all confirmation votes. On the contrary, since Lynch was approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee with bipartisan support on Feb. 26, the GOP majority has confirmed four Obama administration nominees, including one yesterday. Republicans have also allowed Defense Secretary Ashton Carter’s nomination to reach the floor, despite the fact that Carter was nominated after Lynch.

But the A.G. nominee, for reasons Republicans have struggled to explain, is being denied an up-or-down vote, even though Lynch appears to have the votes necessary for confirmation.

All of this has unfolded despite Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-Ky.) public vow that he would allow a vote on Lynch last week – a commitment he has since broken.

As of this morning, Lynch was nominated 136 days ago. As we discussed last week, the first African-American woman ever considered for this post has waited longer for a vote than any A.G. nominee in history, and longer than the last five A.G. nominees combined. Even her fiercest critics have failed to raise substantive objections to her qualifications, background, temperament, or judgment.

(Benen)

What we have here is another example of the Republican thesis that government does not and cannot work. And what we have here is also another example of Republicans trying to prove the thesis by deliberately botching up basic governance.

No, really, how is any of that actually surprising?

____________________

Image note: Loretta Lynch, President Obama’s nominee to be the next attorney general, meets with Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-VT, at the Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, Dec. 2, 2014. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Benen, Steve. “Senate GOP delaying Lynch nomination (again)”. msnbc. 24 March 2015.

Your Quote of the Day

Eric Holder in Washington, D.C., 1 June 2014. (Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg News)

“To borrow a Homer Simpson line, it’s funny because it’s true.”

Steve Benen

It really is something of a mystery:

Remember, Senate Democrats could have tried to rush Lynch through the confirmation process during the lame-duck session late last year – before Dems lost their majority status – but Republicans implored Democrats not to. The power should rest with the incoming majority, GOP senators said.

The outgoing Democratic majority obliged, expecting Republicans to be at least somewhat responsible. After all, there were no substantive objections to Lynch and the GOP was desperate to see Holder go. Republicans had a built-in incentive to act reasonably.

And yet, here we are. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and his team have subjected Lynch to the longest delay of any A.G. nominee in history – for reasons they haven’t even tried to explain – and this week, McConnell even broke his word about bringing Lynch’s nomination to the floor for a vote this week.

The irony is under-appreciated: Republicans wanted Holder to step down, and he did. Republicans wanted Obama to nominate an uncontroversial successor, and he did. Republicans wanted Democrats not to vote on Lynch in the lame-duck session, and they obliged.

Months later, the Senate’s GOP majority can’t quite bring itself to do what Republicans say they want to do. In fact, as far as McConnell & Co. are concerned, they hope to defeat Lynch – again, for reasons they’ve struggled to articulate – raising the prospect of Republicans keeping Holder at his current post until January 2017.

____________________

Benen, Steve. “Holder suddenly enjoys the GOP’s ‘love’ and ‘affection'”. msnbc. 18 March 2015.

Ransom Governance

Mitch McConnell

When Loretta Lynch, nominee to replace Eric Holder as Attorney General, appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee, the Republican majority seemed less interested in her record as an attorney and more focused on complaining about the man who would be her predecessor. And this, of course, after Republican efforts during the last session to block her nomination. Yesterday, things took a turn for the strange―

Yesterday, the GOP strategy became clearer. McConnell seems to have kept things vague because he intended to break his word.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says there’ll be no vote to confirm Loretta Lynch as attorney general until Republicans and Democrats resolve a dispute over a human trafficking bill.

“If they want to have time to turn to the attorney general,” then “we have to finish the human trafficking bill,” McConnell said Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

The Majority Leader added that he “had hoped” to allow the Senate to vote on Lynch, whose nomination has, by most measures, already waited longer than any other A.G. nomination in American history, but Lynch “will be put off again” unless Democrats agree to pass the human-trafficking bill that stalled last week.

McConnell went on to say, “We have to finish the human trafficking bill. The Loretta Lynch nomination comes next.”

Benen - GOP Ransom NoteJust so we’re clear, there’s no procedural concern or rule that must be followed. McConnell could bring Lynch’s 128-day wait to an end this morning, and by all appearances, she’d have the votes necessary to be confirmed.

(Benen)

―which, admittedly, sounds about par for the course in terms of Republican governance. The point here is the same as it has always been, to govern by ransom. The underlying argument here is that Republicans refuse to undertake their basic obligations unless they are given extra rewards. Give them treats, or the nation will suffer.

Benen noted yesterday:

And what of the human-trafficking bill? That was a bipartisan proposal, set to clear the chamber 100 to 0, but Republicans quietly added an anti-abortion provision and neglected to mention it to the Democratic co-sponsors. Dems, feeling betrayed and opposing the add-on, have decided to withdraw their support for the bill until the GOP majority takes the provision out.

Riders have always been notorious, but of late Republicans have taken this practice to odius extremes.α

As Benen reports today, the White House has sounded off on the Majority Leader’s stupidity:

From the White House podium, press secretary Josh Earnest is usually pretty circumspect in his criticisms of lawmakers. Yesterday, however, President Obama’s spokesperson was far less guarded – the Senate Republicans’ handling of Loretta Lynch’s Attorney General nomination, and their willingness to connect this to an unrelated human-trafficking bill, was just too much for Earnest.

“You’ve got to hand it to Republicans, that they’ve taken even a measure as common sense as [combating human trafficking] and turned it into a partisan controversy.

“That is not a reflection of a flaw in the bill. It’s a reflection of inept leadership”....

.... For his part, McConnell told reporters yesterday that the previous Senate Democratic majority could have voted on Lynch during last year’s lame-duck session, but they didn’t, delaying the vote until the new Congress. McConnell “failed to point out that that delay was at his request,” the president’s spokesperson reminded reporters yesterday.

And as hard as it seems to believe, this sort of dishonesty and irresponsibility is apparently what our Republican-voting neighbors want. But, you know, just like Sen. Embry, it’s not their faults.

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α Consider, for example, Kentucky―what? Kentucky? imagine that!―where Adam Beam reported on an episode in which a group of high school students managed to get a bill into serious consideration before the state house. The bill would have allowed student committees to participate in the screening of candidates for superintendent, and appeared to be on its way to easy passage. Then state Sen. C.B. Embry (R-KY06) tacked on an amendment demanding schools discriminate against transgender students. Another amendment would empower religious supremacism and discrimination. The bill is now left in limbo because the Kentucky House is wary of what happens next. As to Sen. Embry? “It’s not my fault,” he explained. And why would it be? He’s just a Republican, and they are never at fault for their own actions, and thus should never be held accountable.

Benen, Steve. “McConnell subjects Lynch to ransom-based governing”. msnbc. 16 March 2015.

—————. “White House takes aim at GOP’s ‘inept leadership'”. msnbc. 17 March 2015.

Beam, Adam. “Kentucky students get hard lesson in politics from lawmakers”. Boulder Daily Camera. 11 March 2015.

An American Moment

“After considering the text of Title VII, the relevant Supreme Court case law interpreting the statute, and the developing jurisprudence in this area, I have determined that the best reading of Title VII’s prohibition of sex discrimination is that it encompasses discrimination based on gender identity, including transgender status.”

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder

Oh, yes. Our America still has its good days.

Chris Geidner of Buzzfeed delivers the news, and while it might seem like a small thing compared to yesterday’s breathtaking tales from Washington and Havana, this really is one of those important things.

And while it is true that the last two years of a second-term presidency often include some of the maneuvers that president should have started with six years before, what, really, does this administration have left on the list of reasons to not do certain things? Maybe if they pile on enough over the next year and some months, and just keep pouring on through the election cycle, Democrats will actually get up and aim for more daring goals than holding the line against whatever has become of the Republican Party.

But, you know, for the moment, yes, it is perfectly acceptable to pause and say, “Wow! Why didn’t I see that one coming?”

And we would also take a moment to say, Thank you, Mr. Holder.

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Holder, Eric. “Treatment of Transgender Employment Discrimination Claims Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964”. United States Department of Justice. 15 December 2014.

Geidner, Chris. “Justice Department Will Now Support Transgender Discrimination Claims In Litigation”. BuzzFeed. 18 December 2014.

What They Voted For

TedCruz-bw-banner

One of the hammers that has yet to drop after the 2014 GOP midterm victory is the obvious question:

Top Republicans want Loretta Lynch’s nomination to be attorney general delayed until they are in charge of the Senate — and they are insisting she divulge whether she supports the president’s plan to act without Congress on a major immigration amnesty.

Soon-to-be Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky issued a Friday statement saying her nomination should be considered “in the new Congress,” and on Saturday, Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and Mike Lee of Utah also pushed for a delay.

Cruz and Lee issued a joint statement highlighting their demand Lynch divulge her thoughts on whether an executive amnesty would be constitutional.

“President [Barack] Obama’s Attorney General nominee deserves fair and full consideration of the United States Senate, which is precisely why she should not be confirmed in the lame duck session of Congress by senators who just lost their seats and are no longer accountable to the voters. The Attorney General is the President’s chief law enforcement officer. As such, the nominee must demonstrate full and complete commitment to the law. Loretta Lynch deserves the opportunity to demonstrate those qualities, beginning with a statement whether or not she believes the President’s executive amnesty plans are constitutional and legal.”

(Dennis)

It is not as if we should be surprised; they told us before the election. Even the Speaker of the House is on board with the suggestion that a lame-duck congress should walk away from its duties, even with a war on the line.

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