Allow Jeff Sessions To Do His Job
by JBS President Emeritus John F. McManus
The Democrats in Congress have a new target – Attorney General Jeff Sessions. They didn’t want him as Attorney General, but he won Senate confirmation with a slim vote of 52-47. Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) provided the only Democrat vote as he joined with 51 Republicans to approve the former Alabama senator.Almost immediately, other Democrats pounced on Sessions claiming that he lied during the confirmation hearings. Asked during the proceedings if he had any recent contact with Russian officials about the November election for President, he said he did not. Later, Democrats claimed that he twice met with Sergey Kislyak, Russia’s Ambassador to the United States. Sessions explained that he wasn’t trying to hide anything; he thought he was being asked about meetings with Russian officials to discuss the coming U.S. election.
The apparent Sessions falsehood turned out to be a lack of precision in his answer to Senator Al Franken’s question. But the steam from the Democrat-generated charges that Sessions lied, exploded to the degree that the Department of Justice will now determine if the Russians were trying to influence the November election, if Sessions played a part in such a scheme, and if he then lied about it.
After a few days, Attorney General Sessions recused himself from the coming inquiry. In effect, he told the senators who opposed his selection as Attorney General, “Go right ahead and investigate but your investigation will not find that I had anything to do with any Russian meddling in the election. If indeed there was any.”
Sessions is a good and truthful man. His claim that he misunderstood the question he was asked rings true. He said later, “I should have slowed down and said, ‘But I did meet one Russian official a couple of times. During the period under question.’” He claims the matters he discussed with Kislyak had nothing to do with the Trump-Clinton election.
Now let’s contrast what the Democrats and the media have sought to do to Sessions with the way Congress dealt with Obama-era Attorney General Eric Holder. Under his watch, the U.S. government conducted an operation known as “Fast and Furious” that supplied thousands of weapons to Mexican drug cartel criminals. The name “Fast and Furious” evolved when it was found that many of the Mexican recipients of the guns belonged to a motorcycle club with that name. Holder’s Justice Department initially labeled the operation “Project Gunrunner.”
The scheme arranged for the sale of weaponry in the U.S. to highly questionable individuals. U.S. officials knew that the guns would end up in the hands of drug dealers and murderers in Mexico. There was supposed to be some method of tracking the weapons and learning more about the operations of the Mexican drug cartels.
But two of the Fast and Furious guns led to the death of U.S. Border Patrol agent Brian Terry. Estimates place the number of Mexicans slain with those guns well into the hundreds. U.S. Immigration and Customs agent Jaime Zapata’s life was snuffed out with another of these weapons. More guns ended up in the hands of drug merchants in Honduras, Puerto Rico, and Colombia. Approximately 2,000 firearms (AK-47s, sniper rifles, and revolvers) were transferred and fewer than half have ever been recovered.
The entire scheme came to the attention of the press and some concerned government officials when whistleblowers within the Department of Justice bared details about the scheme. As far back as 2013, more than 130 members of Congress called for Holder’s resignation. Called before a Senate panel, Holder said he knew nothing about the program, but documents later showed he knew about it as far back as 2009. He lied to Congress, and there was an effort to charge him with criminal contempt of Congress.
Instead of offering his resignation, Holder went on the offensive and called for more gun control aimed at the American people and their rights. He is no longer Attorney General, and it seems likely that he will never be held accountable for Fast and Furious, for lying, and being cited for contempt of Congress.
In Congress, there are many who allowed Eric Holder to walk away unprosecuted but are now hounding Jeff Sessions. They should be reminded of their negligence regarding Holder and leave Sessions free to carry out his important responsibilities.
Mr. McManus served in the U.S. Marine Corps in the late 1950s and joined the staff of The John Birch Society in August 1966. He has served various roles for the organization including Field Coordinator, Director of Public Affairs, and President. Mr. McManus has appeared on hundreds of radio and television programs and is also author of a number of educational DVDs and books. Now President Emeritus, he continues his involvement with the Society through public speaking and writing for this blog, the JBS Bulletin, and The New American.
The Lynch Filibuster That Never Happened
by JBS President John F. McManus
The appointment of Loretta Lynch to be the nation’s Attorney General won Senate confirmation on April 23, 2015. She is now the successor of Eric Holder who had held the office during all the previous years of the Obama presidency.
During hearings leading up to her confirmation, Ms. Lynch was asked about possible use of executive orders by the President to create law, especially law regarding illegal immigrants. Making law with the stroke of a pen has, of course, always been a violation of the Constitution’s very first sentence: “All legislative powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives.” Anyone who understands the meaning of the word “all” would know that no President can make law. The President’s job is to see that laws are “faithfully executed.”
But Ms. Lynch never committed herself regarding the matter, dancing around it like so many federal officials have done over many years. That alone should have been enough reason for senators to refuse confirmation. But she survived thanks to the efforts of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and a number of go-along senators.
The Senate’s procedural rules contain the possible use of the procedure known as filibuster. It allows continued debate about an issue, even drag on indefinitely, until an objectionable measure is withdrawn. While a filibuster in underway, no other Senate business can be conducted. Use of the filibuster, therefore, is a fairly powerful tactic. Senate rules state that breaking one needs the votes of 60 senators. This means that a mere 40 can start a filibuster and continue it for as long as it may take in order to have an objectionable measure or confirmation withdrawn.
Top Republican Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky wanted the Lynch nomination approved. Some Republican senators indicated that they would approve the nomination. Others sought to create a filibuster. But breaking one had to be accomplished first. So he convinced 10 senators who were opposed to the nomination to vote to break any possible use of the filibuster. More than 60 votes were needed to do so and ten senators who would later vote against confirmation of Ms. Lynch dutifully went along with the McConnell plan. With all 46 Democrats and several additional Republicans supporting cloture (the breaking of any possible filibuster), that hurdle was overcome.
The ten who sided with McConnell in the cloture vote went on to vote against her confirmation in the final vote. So they are able to say to constituents that they were opposed to approving Ms. Lynch, thereby seeming to uphold condemnation of the president’s expressed desire to usurp congressional law-making power. But had they not lined up with McConnell in the cloture vote, Ms. Lynch would never have been confirmed. It was a very slippery move. The ten slippery Republican senators who voted to cut off debate on the nomination (the cloture vote) are: Alexander (Tenn.), Corker (Tenn.) Burr (N.C.), Tillis (N.C.),Capito (W.Va.), Gardner (Colo.), Roberts (Kan.), Cornyn (Texas). Rounds (S.D.), and Thune (S.D.).
Constituents might care to let these senators know that they key role they played in confirming Loretta Lynch to be Attorney General will not be forgotten. Ten other senators who voted with the Democrats to approve the nomination of Ms. Lynch were wrong to do so, but they weren’t so devious. Their vote deserves some condemnation as well. The ten GOP senators who voted for confirmation after the filibuster threat had been defeated are: Ayotte (N.H.), Cochran (Miss.), Collins (Maine), Flake (Ariz.), Graham (S.C.), Hatch (Utah), Johnson (Wis.), Kirk (Ill.), McConnell (Ky.), and Portman (Ohio). Now our nation has another Attorney General willing to thumb her nose at the Constitution.
Mr. McManus joined the staff of The John Birch Society in August 1966 and has served various roles for the organization including Field Coordinator, Director of Public Affairs, and now President. He remains the Society’s chief media representative throughout the nation and has appeared on hundreds of radio and television programs. Mr. McManus is also Publisher of The New American magazine and author of a number of educational DVDs and books.