This won’t take long.
So I was watching the House of Representatives hearings yesterday, featuring Attorney General Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III. The House has been anxious to speak with the AG, or General, as many of the House members seemed wont to do of the course of the hearings. As one news service put it, it was a tale of two hearings.
The customary parade of alternate questioning, first Republicans, the majority, and thus controlling Party, then Democrats queried the Administration’s top lawyer, praising him (GOP), then, pressing him…to defend his veracity (Democrats). It was quite a display; one that has come to epitomize the divide that too often separates our country.
Three distinct observations from the hearings captured my attention. In full disclosure, all three were exchanges with Democrats. From my vantage point, they were the only ones really committed to press the “General” on his consistency, or lack thereof, with regard to his testimony.
1. Representative Cedric Richmond, LA, got to the heart of the matter vis-a-vis the difference in the way the crack epidemic was treated versus the way the current opioid epidemic is being handled. He preceded that query with questions about the number of African Americans on Sessions staff (none), the number of African Americans appointed as Federal Judges (one), and the number of African American Heads of regional FBI offices (he couldn’t answer, which likely translates to none).
2. Representative Ted Lieu, CA, engaged “General” Sessions” in a lively exchange. Rep. Lieu inquired of Sessions how many interactions he’d head with Russian Government official, and former Ambassador Sergey Kislyak. After the “General enumerated several meetings (which in earlier testimony he failed to remember/report), the Congressman said: "What you just told us under oath was exactly the opposite. So I'm going to ask you Mr. Sessions, were you lying then when you filled out the form, or are you lying now?" At a later point, Lieu asked, “You did have communications with the Russians last year; isn’t that right? Sessions answered, I had a meeting with the Russian Ambassador; yes. To which Lieu responded, "Again, either you're lying to the U.S. Senate or you're lying to the U.S. House of Representatives."
3. Representative Hakeem Jeffries, NY, posed several questions right off the bat, including: At the Senate Judiciary Committee in October, you stated under oath, I don’t recall, in some form of fashion 29 times; is that correct? Sessions had no idea. He further queried, at the Senate Intelligence Committee in June you stated under oath, I don’t recall, in some form or fashion 36 times; is that correct? He did not know. Jeffries went on, asking, in today’s hearing, you’ve said I don’t recall at least 20 times; is that fair to say? He had no idea. Keep in mind, it was the very same day, and Sessions had no idea…under oath! Jeffries, however, was not through. He cited an interview with Lou Dobbs, October 4, 2016 in which Sessions criticized Hillary Clinton for telling FBI investigators “I can’t remember,” approximately 35 times. Moreover, he noted Sessions told Dobbs that the intentional failure to remember could constitute perjury. He then asked the “General,” Do you still believe the intentional failure to remember can constitute a criminal act? Sessions testily replied that he did, and charged Jeffries with being “unfair.” Jeffries also cited a speech Sessions made during (unsuccessful) Senate hearings to oust Bill Clinton from office after the House voted to impeach him. He noted an anecdote Sessions shared with Dobbs about a police officer he prosecuted, after the officer had testified, then amended his testimony. In essence, he prosecuted him for failing to remember, which he imputed was perjury. He went on to note the President should get no more leeway than that police officer, as perjury was one of the counts against Clinton. To wrap it all up and put a neat little bow on it, he closed by noting Sessions has amended, corrected, or clarified his testimony on numerous occasions. The implication was, according to Sessions’ previously used rationale, he has perjured himself.
And he did it while returning unused time to the Chair, which was no mean feat, considering he had only 5 minutes. Nicely played!
By the way, Sessions is quite adept at buying time by saying he doesn’t understand the question, asking could you repeat the question, and giving run-on responses that do not answer questions. This serves two purposes. It benefits him and detracts from the questioner’s objective to secure answers. It allows him to dissemble, but more importantly, it fills the questioners’ (especially Democrats) 5 allocated minutes with empty space, which limits the number of questions they can ask, and the degree to which he will actually have to answer questions posed.
Sheer genius. It’s also evil, but definitely genius, nonetheless. I know there is a great desire on all sides for this entire Russia madness to end. I’m no seer, but I have a feeling Sir Winston Churchill nailed this one with his famous quote:
“This is not the end, this is not even the beginning of the end, this is just, perhaps, the end of the beginning.”
I’m done; holla back!
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