McConnell: Jeff Sessions ‘Believes Strongly in the Rule of Law’

‘The Senate has a long-standing tradition of confirming the Cabinet nominees of a newly elected administration in a timely fashion, and the Senate and its committees are now following the same standard for President-elect Trump and his nominees as we have for past presidents.’

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) made the following remarks on the Senate floor today regarding the confirmation of presidential Cabinet nominees, including Jeff Sessions who is President-elect Trump’s intended nominee for Attorney General:

“Senate Committees have been working for many weeks to process President-elect Trump’s Cabinet nominations. 

“I want to commend the committees and their staffs for their hard work.

“Now we begin the next phase of this process with committee hearings. In fact, it just began this morning in the Senate Judiciary Committee.

“I’d like to say a word about our colleague from Alabama. 

“Each of us knows Senator Sessions. We’ve worked with him. We know he cares about his country and the Department he’ll be tasked to lead. We know he’s a forthright colleague, an experienced attorney, and someone who believes strongly in the rule of law. We know that he’ll reach across the aisle as well.

“He supported President Obama’s first Attorney General nominee, Eric Holder.

“He worked with our late colleague, Senator Ted Kennedy, on prison reform.

“He worked with our current colleague, Senator Durbin, on sentencing reform.   

“Senator Durbin in fact noted that Senator Sessions is ‘a man of his word.’

“Senator Leahy called him ‘wonderful to work with.’ 

“Senator Schumer, the Democratic Leader, said he is ‘straightforward and fair.’

“And let me quote to you from a former Democratic Senate colleague who knows Senator Sessions after having served with him for 16 years: ‘…I always found Jeff to be an honorable and trustworthy person, a smart and good lawyer, and a thoughtful and open-minded listener,’ he wrote, and continued with this. ‘I believe that he will be a principled, fair, and capable Attorney General. If I were in the Senate today, I would vote “aye” on his nomination.’ That’s the former Democratic candidate for Vice-President of the United States, Senator Joe Lieberman. 

“But it’s not just our Democratic colleagues who have praise for Senator Sessions. Let me read you another letter. It's from one of Senator Sessions’ constituents in Alabama, Albert F. Turner, Jr.: ‘My family and I have literally been on the front line of the fight for civil rights my whole life,’ reads the letter, ‘I believe that [Senator Sessions] is someone with whom I, and others in the civil rights community can work if given the opportunity. I believe that he will listen, as he has in the past, to the concerns of my community. More than most I am very familiar with him. I believe he will be fair in his application of the law and the Constitution; as such I support his nomination to be the next Attorney General of the United States.’

“A lot of unfair things have been said about our colleague from Alabama in recent weeks.

“I’m glad he’s finally getting the chance to show Americans in committee the Senator Sessions we all know and serve with.

“I look forward to the Senate’s fair treatment of our colleague’s forthcoming nomination, just as it fairly processed an incoming President Obama’s pick for Attorney General — a nominee, who, as I noted, Senator Sessions supported.

“So let me return to the larger point. 

“The nominations process for an incoming president is important.

“As President Obama recently said when he met with President-elect Trump, the presidency ‘is bigger than any one person, and that's why ensuring a smooth transition is so important.’

“I agree. When President Obama was elected, Republicans worked across the aisle to confirm seven of his nominees on Inauguration Day — and five more by the end of his first week. These nominees were hardly centrists. We had reservations about many of them. But Democrats had won the presidency and the Senate, and we hadn’t.

“I ask our friends across the aisle to now demonstrate the same courtesy and seriousness for President-elect Trump’s nominees, especially his national-security team. 

“The Senate has a long-standing tradition of confirming the Cabinet nominees of a newly elected administration in a timely fashion, and the Senate and its committees are now following the same standard for President-elect Trump and his nominees as we have for past presidents. 

“I know some are urging Democrats to play partisan games and needlessly delay. I hope they won’t. The American people will see through it anyway. Here’s a perfect example. The Democratic Leader has been quoting a letter I sent to then-Senator Harry Reid in 2009. He apparently missed the fact that the letter he’s been quoting was not only sent after every one of President Obama’s eligible Cabinet nominees had hearings — but after all but one had been confirmed. So it’s actually an important reminder of how Republicans fairly treated an incoming President Obama’s Cabinet nominees, and how Democrats should now do the same.

“This is a time for serious consideration and cooperation.

“Americans aren’t looking for partisan games.

“We are a nation at war. We are a nation grappling with a slow economy. Americans want the incoming president to have his national and economic security teams in place to get to work.

“They want us to work together across the aisle to get this done. 

“That’s what Republicans did in 2009, it’s what we’re doing now, and it’s what we invite our Democratic friends to join us in getting accomplished.”

Related Issues: Nominations