Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley signaled Tuesday that he intends to move swiftly on Donald Trump’s attorney general nominee, Alabama Republican Sen. Jeff Sessions.
Following a meeting with Sessions, Grassley announced that he plans to hold a hearing on the nomination prior to the January 20 inauguration.
As the Iowa lawmakers’ office notes, the Senate held hearings to consider both Attorney General Eric Holder and Attorney General John Ashcroft prior to the inaugurations of President Barack Obama and President George W. Bush, respectively.
Calling Session an “honorable man, and a person of integrity” who knows “the Justice Department well, and cares deeply about the even-handed application of the law,” Grassley promised fair and thorough proceedings.
“The process for Attorney General Holder’s hearing was fair, and a good model to follow,” he said in a statement. “Every nominee to be Attorney General has a long record, and Senator Sessions’ record of public service is just that, public. Unlike most recent nominees for Attorney General, members of the committee are extremely well acquainted with Senator Sessions, after having served with him for up to twenty years.”
With liberal interest groups lining up to attack the Alabama senator for his conservative positions and decades-old accusations of racially-insensitive remarks, Grassley warned against attempted character attacks.
“Democratic members of the committee have pledged a fair process. Based on those commitments, I trust the other side will resist what some liberal interest groups are clearly hoping for – an attack on his character,” Grassley said, recalling the Ashcroft’s confirmation process and describing is as a reckless campaign that became an “avalanche of innuendo, rumor and spin.”
“That will not happen here,” he said.
Nevertheless a number of the Democratic members on the Judiciary Committee have already indicated they are ready to toughly vet the nominee.
“When our country is struggling with so many divisions, the committee and the entire Senate must ask whether Senator Sessions is the right man to lead the agency charged with securing and protecting the constitutional and civil rights of all Americans,” Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy, California Sen. Dianne Feinstein, Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin, Rhode Island Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Minnesota Sen. Al Franken, Delaware Sen. Chris Coons and Connecticut Sen. Richard Blumenthal wrote in a letter — obtained by Politico — to Grassley.