Tuesday, July 25, 2017


In all fairness, we will give California Democratic Representative Eric Swalwell, a member of the House Intelligence Committee, the courtesy of hearing him out when he says

Attorney General Sessions should no longer serve. I believe, for other reasons, he’s already lost the trust of the American people. He wasn’t forthcoming about his contacts with Russia as they were interfering in our campaign. He participated in the firing of James Comey, which was improper. And so, we now cannot trust his word. And so, with respect to this report, I will just say that, as far as anything Jeff Sessions has said about his contacts with Russia, we should be able to corroborate or contradict those statements with all of the evidence and be able to review that. But for now, you need your top law enforcement official to be trusted, and he simply is not trusted. And this is a time for Congress to thoughtfully and aggressively put a check on this president.

He has at least a little company, for

Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin said Tuesday he was not sure how Sessions could continue as attorney general “with this public vote of no confidence" from the president.

"I don't know how the president will inspire loyalty from his staff with public statements like the one he made on Jeff Sessions,” Durbin added.

President Trump has stated explicitly that he believes Attorney General Sessions should not have recused himself from the Russia investigation. And he has all but declared that Sessions has been negligent in not investigating Hillary Clinton. He has been assiduously pushing Sessions out the door without doing the dirty deed himself.

Vox's Andrew Prokop explains that

finding someone who’s enough of a Trump crony to win Senate confirmation for this post could be very difficult. It’s such a challenge that rumors swirled this week that Trump would try and circumvent that process completely. There was chatter that Sessions could be fired while the Senate was on recess in August — and that Trump could use the president’s recess appointment power to appoint a replacement who could serve until early 2019. However, Senate Democrats reportedly plan to use procedural moves to prevent the chamber from officially recessing, which would block that from happening.

Prokop adds

Still, there’s a serious risk here that a nominee with strong-on-paper credentials would skate through hearings giving vague or noncommittal answers — while President Trump has gotten different assurances of that nominee’s intentions in private.

Placing faith in the Senate Judiciary Committee to examine thoroughly a Trump appointee would be very foolish. Last Thursday the Committee unanimously recommended approval for FBI director one Christopher Wray, who

represented Gov. Chris Christie as his personal, publicly-funded Bridgegate attorney for 11 months before signing a mandatory retainer agreement, according to new documents provided to WNYC through a public records request.

Wray began working for Christie as his personal, publicly-funded attorney, according to bills submitted to the state, in September 2014. But it wasn't until August 2015, 11 months later, that Wray and Christie formally agreed to the arrangement.

Several lawyers who work with the government said the extended delay was extraordinarily unusual, possibly unethical, and could indicate that Christie, who was preparing to run for president at the time, was keeping it hidden from the public that he had a taxpayer-funded criminal attorney. Indeed it wasn't until the summer of 2016 that it was revealed that Wray was holding onto a piece of potential evidence — one of Christie's cell phones that his former aides, charged in the Bridgegate affair, unsuccessfully sought to subpoena.

Wray and his colleagues would ultimately bill taxpayers more than $2 million in fees and expenses, including meals, hotel rooms, cab fare and flights. They continued working — and being paid — even after the Bridgegate trial ended and those convicted were sentenced to prison. It is unclear what work was done, since the governor was neither charged nor called to testify. 

Shortly thereafter Christie recommended Wray to his friend, President Trump, for the job of FBI director.

Every member, Republican or Democrat, of the Judiciary Committee endorsed Wray without asking him a single question about Bridgegate.

Any replacement for Attorney General Sessions would know that he (or she) is expected to fire Robert Mueller yesterday, and would do so promptly. If Swallwell, Durbin, or anyone else who would like Sessions to bow out believe that the latter's removal would spark a revolt by House Republicans against President Trump, they've been using a very powerful hallucinogen. Even if Trump were to fire Sessions, the political firestorm (though greater) would be fairly short-lived.

"The enemy of mine enemy is my friend" goes the ancient proverb. Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III is not Donald Trump's biggest enemy; the free press has the honor of that distinction.  But President Trump wants desperately to get rid of him, which should give a lot of pause to anyone who otherwsie thinks the Justice Department  or the nation would be better off with someone else at its head in 2017.

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