Sessions Chickens Out of Budget Hearing, Democrats Pounce

Sessions Chickens Out of Budget Hearing, Democrats Pounce

Sessions ‘Can’t Run Forever’

Attorney General Jeff Sessions has decided not to appear before the hearing of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies to defend the Department of Justice’s budget on Tuesday. Instead, he will send his deputy, Rod Rosenstein, the Washington Post reported. Sessions will testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee, the same Committee that FBI Director James Comey testified before on Thursday,

“In light of reports regarding Mr. Comey’s recent testimony before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, it is important that I have an opportunity to address these matters in the appropriate forum,” Sessions wrote. “The Senate Intelligence Committee is the most appropriate forum for such matters, as it has been conducting an investigation and has access to relevant, classified information.”

Related: BREAKING: Trump’s AG Sessions to be Grilled Over Trump-Russia Scandal by Senate Intelligence Committee Tuesday

Even though Sessions framed his decision as a tradeoff–he wouldn’t be able to testify before the Appropriations Subcommittee because he would be testifying before the Intelligence Committee–the Democrats on the Appropriations Subcommittee didn’t see it that way. Two democrats on the Subcommittee issued statements condemning Sessions’ decision.

Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI) accused Sessions of ducking out of the hearing “because he does not want to discuss the scope of his recusal from the investigation regarding the 2016 presidential campaign as well as his significant interactions with Russian officials.”

Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) accused Sessions of providing “false testimony” in his confirmation hearings “about his contacts with Russian officials.” The revelation of these contacts is the reason Sessions recused himself from the Russia investigation. Leahy said that “twice in 2” months, Sessions has cancelled an Appropriations hearing, implying that Sessions doesn’t want to face Leahy about his “false testimony” and “half-hearted Russia recusal.” Leahy concluded, “You can’t run forever.”

On Saturday, Reverb Press reported on Democrats’ plan to “grill” Sessions in the Appropriations Subcommittee hearing. Our sources, including a former special counsel in the Clinton administration and former House Chief of Staff, predicted there was a strong possibility that Sessions would send a deputy to the Subcommittee hearing, and accurately predicted that Democrats would respond forcefully.

“Although Sessions is scheduled to appear before the Subcommittee, it is possible that the Attorney General could delegate an assistant to appear before the Subcommittee in his place. If he does not appear, or appears with a team of deputies and delegates most of his responses, Democrats are likely to pounce on that as disrespecting the separation of powers, and as a sign that Sessions has ‘felt the heat’ and is trying to avoid saying too much on the record. Democrats would likely ask Sessions how he would have responded when he was a Senator if a Cabinet Secretary had ducked out of such a hearing. They would likely continue to demand that he come for on-the-record statements, sources said.”

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