After meeting with his longtime colleague Jeff Sessions on November 29, Senator Chuck Grassley signaled that he will not only support President-elect Donald Trump’s choice for attorney general, but also limit Democrats’ ability to expose the nominee’s record during confirmation hearings.
In a statement enclosed in full below, the Judiciary Committee chair warned he will not allow a repeat of the 2001 debate over President George W. Bush’s nominee for the same job, John Ashcroft. In Grassley’s view, those hearings “turned into a reckless campaign that snowballed into an avalanche of innuendo, rumor and spin.”
Citing Senate consideration of the last four attorneys general as precedent, Grassley promised a “fair and thorough vetting process” for Sessions: hearings lasting one to two days, without a large number of outside witnesses. He expressed the hope that Democrats “will resist what some liberal interest groups are clearly hoping for – an attack on [Sessions’s] character.”
Grassley “intends to hold the hearing before the President-elect is sworn in.” His statement explained, “it is customary to hold a hearing for the Attorney General prior to the Inauguration as was the case with both Attorney General Eric Holder and Attorney General John Ashcroft.”
In other words, after presiding over a committee that slow-walked numerous federal judicial nominees, after obstructing a Supreme Court nominee for an unprecedented length of time, Grassley is in a hurry to get Sessions confirmed. He doesn’t want to get bogged down examining the nominee’s extreme views on immigration policy or criticism of the Americans with Disabilities Act or the racially motivated conduct that kept Sessions out of a federal judgeship in the 1980s.
Still no word from Grassley on any of Trump’s abnormal behavior or disregard for the Constitution. Some watchdog.