Washington – Sen. Richard Blumenthal said Thursday that he will oppose the confirmation of fellow Sen. Jeff Sessions as U.S. attorney general because his colleague from Alabama has a record that “reflects a hostility and antipathy and downright opposition to civil rights.”
Blumenthal is a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which held its confirmation hearing on Sessions this week and may vote on the candidacy next week. He announced his opposition to Sessions shortly after Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer said he also will vote against Sessions’ confirmation because he has concerns about whether the nominee would be a sufficient check on President–elect Donald Trump.
In a floor speech in the Senate Thursday, Blumenthal said the U.S. attorney general’s powers are “awesome,” and he has witnessed this as Connecticut’s attorney general.
“In most cases there is no recourse to overrule his decision, unless there is political interference,” Blumenthal said.
He also said he was not satisfied by the responses Sessions gave him during the confirmation hearing this week.
“When I asked him about enforcement of cases against illegal conflicts of interest involving the president and his family, he equivocated,” Blumenthal said. “When I asked him about appointing a special counsel to investigate criminal wrongdoing by Deutsch Bank, owed more than $3 million by Donald Trump, he equivocated. When I asked him about abstaining from voting on other presidential nominees while he is in the Senate, he equivocated.”
But mostly, Blumenthal said, his opposition to Sessions was based on his belief the nominee would not defend the rights of all Americans. He said Sessions is not in “the mainstream.”
“Senator Sessions’ record reflects a hostility and antipathy, downright opposition to civil rights and voting rights, women’s health care and reproductive rights, anti-discrimination measures and religious freedom safeguards,” Blumenthal said. “He has prided himself on vociferous opposition to immigration reform legislation…and a criminal justice reform bill. He even split with his own party against reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act.”
He also said Sessions is backed by groups linked to white supremacists.
At his confirmation hearing, Sessions fought back against charges he was hostile to civil rights.
“As a Southerner who actually saw discrimination and have no doubt it existed in a systematic and powerful and negative way to great millions of people in the South, particularly, of our county, I know that was wrong. I know we need to do better,” Sessions said.
“We can never go back,” Sessions said. “I am totally committed to maintaining the freedom and equality that this country has to provide to every citizen.”
Despite strong opposition from Democrats like Blumenthal, Sessions is likely to win confirmation.