The first day of confirmation hearings for Jeff Sessions in the Senate Judiciary Committee was for the most part blandly civil. Most Democratic questioning basically gave Sessions the opportunity to hedge on nutty things his favorite presidential candidate said during the campaign season, and/or to deny interest in or knowledge of controversial topics (e.g., the possibility of litigation aimed at overturning Roe v. Wade, which Sessions incredibly suggested he’d never thought about).
But Senator Al Franken pretty quickly drew blood by eliciting an admission from Sessions that he might have exaggerated his involvement in civil-rights cases while a U.S. Attorney (Franken was subsequently upbraided by Ted Cruz, in a rare and unconvincing appearance as a defender of moderation and bipartisanship!). And later on, the Minnesotan clearly threw Sessions off his game by asking about the president-elect’s famous tweet about losing the popular vote only because “millions of illegal votes” had been cast for his opponent.
If millions of fraudulent votes were cast, you should be concerned. Have you, like, talked with him about that? You’re gonna be the one that has to prosecute that and protect the vote, so he didn’t talk to you?
No, replied Sessions; Trump did not apprise his future attorney general of any evidence he had for so remarkable an assertion, which if true would become pretty much all Sessions would work on for a year or two.
What made this an effective line of caustic questioning is that Franken was challenging Sessions, a big believer in the phantom menace of voter fraud, to put up or shut up: If Trump was alleging voter fraud on a scale unknown since the days of Boss Tweed, wasn’t Sessions concerned about it? And if not, why not?
We’re still waiting for an answer to that one.