Let’s Hold Jeff Sessions Accountable For His Role in Thwarting Justice

Jeff Sessions has been one busy guy. As more facts and allegations continue to spill out regarding Russia's interference in our presidential election and the Trump administration’s attempts to thwart investigations, a few names keep popping up. And other than President Trump himself, none of them is more crucial to understanding whether we are a country that follows the rule of law than Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

While juggling his day jobs, first as a senator and now as attorney general, he somehow found time to work his way into key places at key times. From meeting with the Russian ambassador multiple times during the campaign — despite claims made under oath to the contrary — to his involvement in President Trump’s firing of the FBI director leading the investigation into Russia-related wrongdoing, Sessions continues to emerge as a key figure worth examining.

Sens. Leahy and Franken asked Sessions during his confirmation hearing about his contacts with Russian officials during the campaign, and he denied any communications. But a little more than a month after being confirmed as attorney general, The Washington Post reported that Sessions met twice with the Russian ambassador during the campaign. Sessions then made lots of excuses. But he never tells us the truth about what he has done.

After he was caught lying to the Senate Judiciary Committee about never having met with any Russian officials, he gave a dizzying array of explanations.

One: “I have no idea what this allegation is about. It’s false”

Two: “I — you know, we meet a lot of people so ….,”

Three: “In retrospect, I should have slowed down and said, ‘But I did meet one Russian official a couple of times, and that would be the ambassador.’”

Four: “My answer was correct.”

And finally, five: “I don’t recall, but most of these ambassadors are pretty gossipy and they like to — this was in campaign season, but I don’t recall any specific political discussions.”

He eventually admitted that he met twice with the Russian ambassador and then recused himself from the Russia/Trump investigation. But it’s hard to know what to make of those answers other than it's time for some accountability. Here are three new routes to holding Sessions accountable.

1. Perjury investigations

Sens. Patrick Leahy and Al Franken wrote three times this spring to the FBI director to urge the bureau to investigate Sessions for perjury before the Senate Judiciary Committee during his confirmation hearing. It shows complete disregard for both the law and the Constitution's system of checks and balances for Sessions to lie under oath. How ironic it is to tell a lie to gain an office of such incredible public trust as the nation’s chief law enforcement officer.

In March, we urged the acting deputy attorney general to open a perjury investigation. Our letter, in combination with the added force of two senators lied to by a former colleague, should show the Trump administration that potential breaches of the public trust will be taken seriously.

2. Ethics complaint to the Alabama State Bar's Disciplinary Commission

This morning, on behalf of the ACLU, I amended our Alabama Bar complaint against Sessions. Our complaint, filed in March, asked the Alabama Bar to investigate whether Sessions' false statement under oath to a Senate committee violated the Alabama Bar's rules of professional conduct. We received a letter this week from the general counsel for the bar, inviting us to submit any additional information related to the complaint.

We amended our complaint today to give the Disciplinary Commission background and materials on two new allegations related to Sessions' false statement. First, CNN reported this week that Sessions may have met with the Russian ambassador not the two times that Sessions eventually admitted, but three or even four times during the campaign. Second, CNN reported last week that the Department of Justice acknowledged that Sessions did not list meetings with Russian officials on his security clearance form. The form required him to certify to the truthfulness of his answers.

You can read our initial Alabama bar complaint here, and the amendment filed today here.

3. Sessions' future testimonies before Congress

The American public deserves to hear from Attorney General Sessions. A congressional hearing was already postponed once, but on June 13, Sessions will finally testify before House and Senate subcommittees. Lawmakers can ask Sessions to answer hard questions on his own role in the firing of FBI Director James Comey as well as any continuing role Sessions may have with any of the Russia investigations or any eventual prosecutions.

These are open hearings before the House and Senate Appropriations Committees' Subcommittees on Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies. They will webcast the hearings on their committee websites, and you should let your senators and representatives know that you want Sessions to be asked tough questions about his role in the Russia/Trump issue.

You can read a letter here that we sent to the subcommittees, emphasizing three key areas of essential questions for the hearings with Sessions.

As we press Congress on this issue here in Washington, I am reminded of something Ben Franklin once said. After leaving the Constitutional Convention, Franklin was asked by citizens what kind of government the delegates had formed. He replied, "A Republic, if you can keep it."

The admonition in Franklin's answer has only rarely been more apt or urgent than it is today.

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Anonymous

Once Comey testifies America will know the truth about this Russian spy. I only hope they will listen and take action. Their president will not. We Russians love the instability in America and are proud of infiltrating your leaders. We hope you will find freedom for all. Join us. "...Luke, I am your father..." Nooooooooo!

Anonymous

This may seem trivial at face value, but is a huge deal for CoinTelPro victims:

The DOJ should have an accurate name. It should be named the "Attorney General's Office" or the "Prosecutor's Office".

In 2001, when the Bush Administration revived the environment for CoinTelPro and McCarthy style blacklisting - those innocent Americans being abused by police and national security agencies, went to the so-called U.S. Department of Justice for justice and protection - most of those blacklistees never attended law school and thought the DOJ would protect them. If those blacklistees later filed court cases against the Bush Administration, these non-lawyers faced a "team" of U.S. Attorneys (DOJ lawyers) in court - even for constitutional cases involving no money.

By not protecting blacklistees, constitutionally oath-sworn DOJ attorneys actually obstructed justice in some cases by not investigating and saving material evidence.

If the name were accurate in what the agency actually does, many blacklisting plaintiffs would have started with the ACLU attorney instead of the Department of "Justice" attorneys. To date the DOJ has never apologized or compensated blacklistees after 9/11.

If the name were accurate

Anonymous

I'm a big fan of the ACLU but have a suggestion to consider, a different way to view things: when it comes to bureaucracies, public or private, these institutions harm and destroy far more Americans through "inaction" (aka: bureaucratic initia) than actual "actions" (ex: allowing veterans to go homeless due to inaction of giving them their check and benefits, etc).

The ACLU wrote a great article years ago that there are good and intelligent people working within a bureaucracy but the net result is far worse than it's individual parts. Well-intentioned, good and intelligent bureaucrats can produce genuinely evil results for their customers/employers - the American people.

Any ACLU lawsuits should also focus on "inaction"- what they don't do while their customers/employers are harmed.

Anonymous

The ACLU's top priority should be making "employment tampering" by government officials and contractors at the federal, state and local levels - a Class A Felony. Added to the Civil Rights Act and federal color of law and pattern & practice statutes.

Since at least 2001, the U.S. government assisted by state and local governments "chooses" which occupations 9/11 blacklistees are allowed to work in (or if they are allowed to have a livelihood at all) - without notifying American citizens that they aren't allowed to choose their own profession, without charge, without trial and without the involvement of an Article III court.

Apparently blacklistees aren't allowed to do work on highrise buildings, drive fuel trucks or whatever some unelected bureaucrat decides in secret. Blacklistees are allowed to perform far more dangerous occupations with a higher risk of injury and death.

Before 9/11 we called this a totalitarian nanny-state.

Anonymous

This entire administration seems IGNORANT of the seriousness of lying. It's perjury, a crime of moral turpitude. They can not be trusted.

Christopher Nolan

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Anonymous

The most urgent matter the ACLU should be working on is obtaining "restraining orders" for bureaucrats perpetrating CoinTelPro style blacklisting of Americans predating 9/11.

It is illegal in the United States to punish American citizens and non-citizens on U.S. soil without confronting them in an overt official process. Without official confrontation, targets can't defend themselves against disloyal bureaucrats that practice "guilt-by-association" and "guilty until proven innocent" tactics.
Thus type of blacklisting is illegal in the United States.

Targets also need official government apologies since defamation, over years and decades, is irreversible. For example, since Bush's Preemption Doctrine "deputized" state and local officials, blacklistees are defamed in their own communities and own neighborhoods - a life sentence without any official charges or confrontation.

Jack

abc

Jacklien

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