Sessions' confirmation hearing is set for January 10
Liberal groups want to delay it, citing an incomplete questionnaire
Liberal groups are calling for a delay in Sen. Jeff Sessions’ confirmation hearings for the post of attorney general, citing gaps in his record that the Alabama Republican didn’t address in a questionnaire sent to the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Sessions, like other nominees of President-elect Donald Trump, is on course for a committee vote before Trump is inaugurated on January 20.
But three liberal groups – the National Council of Asian Pacific Americans, People For the American Way and Alliance for Justice – say his January 10 confirmation hearing should be delayed.
The groups say Sessions failed to provide media interviews, speeches, op-eds and more from his time as US attorney in Alabama, the state’s attorney general and from his first term as senator, from 1997 through 2002.
They said Sessions listed just 20 media interviews, 16 speeches outside the Senate, two op-eds, an academic article and a training manual, as well as just 11 clips of interviews with print publications – including none prior to 2003.
“Sen. Sessions claims that records do not exist for the vast majority of press interviews he has given over the years. However, many are easily located online,” the groups said, calling the omission “inexplicable.”
Aides helping with Sessions’ confirmation did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
But the office of Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Charles Grassley said Trump’s choice for the post has been forthcoming with information.
“The notion that Senator Sessions – somebody who committee members have known and served beside for 20 years – hasn’t made a good faith effort to supply the committee with responsive material is preposterous,” said a spokeswoman for Grassley, an Iowa Republican. “It’s been clear from the day Senator Sessions’ nomination was announced that the left-wing advocacy groups aren’t interested in a fair process and just want a fight. We trust the minority committee members will have the courage to give Senator Sessions the fair and respectful process he deserves.”
Sessions has been adding materials to his committee file amid similar concerns.
Originally, under the section of the questionnaire specifically calling for all nominations and public offices held, including any “unsuccessful nominations for appointed office,” Sessions detailed his record as a federal prosecutor and senator of Alabama, but failed to list his failed bid for a federal judgeship in 1986. He supplemented his initial response to include the “withdrawn” judgeship.
Sessions was nominated by President Ronald Reagan to be a judge on the US District Court for the Southern District of Alabama, but the appointment was scuttled after an African-American former colleague testified Sessions had called him “boy” and expressed past sympathies for the Ku Klux Klan – allegations that Sessions vigorously disputed.
Democrats have hoped to delay the confirmations of Trump nominees they see as most objectionable.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, a California Democrat, had already called on the committee to delay its hearing – noting that Sessions submitted more than 150,000 pages of material, but left gaps.
“Despite being voluminous, Sen. Sessions’ production appears to have been put together in haste and is, on its face, incomplete,” Feinstein said in a mid-December letter to Grassley.
CNN’s Laura Jarrett contributed to this report.