(Senate - November 28, 2016)

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[Congressional Record Volume 162, Number 169 (Monday, November 28, 2016)]
[Pages S6510-S6511]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office []


  Mr. CORNYN. Mr. President, the reason I came to the floor is to make 
note of the fact, as I alluded to a moment ago, that President-Elect 
Donald Trump announced his intention to nominate one of our own, a 
Member of the Senate, to be the Nation's top law enforcement officer.
  Our friend, the junior Senator from Alabama, Mr. Sessions, is 
undoubtedly qualified and prepared for this role as Attorney General 
because of the long career he spent protecting and defending our 
Constitution and the rule of law.
  If there is one thing we can do in the U.S. Government to help 
restore the public's confidence, it will be to reembrace the concept of 
equal justice under the law and ensure there is not a double standard 
by which people are judged--the powerful, the well-connected, and then 
the rules that apply to everybody else--but, rather, that the same 
rules apply to all of us. The same laws apply to all of us.
  In fact, that is the bulwark of our constitutional democracy. 
Frankly, I think the American people have seen, in the last two 
Attorneys General--the current one and her predecessor, Mr. Holder--is 
essentially an office of the Department of Justice that was not worthy 
of the name ``Justice.'' It should have been called an extension of the 
White House political operation because so much of the way they 
conducted themselves was governed not by the rule of law but by 
political considerations.
  Our friend, the Senator from Alabama, understands firsthand the 
importance of hard work as well. He is the son of a country store owner 
from Hybart, AL. He received his law degree from the University of 
Alabama. He served in the U.S. Army Reserves.
  As we know, his service didn't stop there. Guided by a sense of duty 
for the last five decades, Jeff Sessions has dedicated his life to the 
State of Alabama and to the United States itself, first as a Federal 
prosecutor--including 12 years as U.S. attorney for the Southern 
District of Alabama, then as the State's attorney general, and now in 
the Senate where he has served with distinction for the last decade-
  Above all, Jeff Sessions has worked for the people of his State and 
this country with one purpose in mind; that is, to uphold the rule of 
  His career in the Senate reflects this earnest commitment to do what 
is right, not what is popular, not what is politically convenient but 
to do what is right, guided by the Constitution, the laws, and inspired 
by the people he was elected to serve. He has been a defender of our 
military families and played a leading role in ensuring that rural 
communities have the health care they need.
  I understand the long knives are already starting to come out against 
President-Elect Trump's nominees and that Senator Sessions--our 
colleague from Alabama--is not going to be spared some of those 
attacks, but I would ask some of these critics who don't know his 
entire record to consider the fact that a few years ago he teamed up 
with the senior Senator from Illinois to reform sentencing charges on 
crack cocaine, sentencing charges that disproportionately discriminate 
against African-American communities.
  It was a bipartisan solution that in Jeff's words, ``achieve fairness 
without impeding our ability to combat drug violence.''
  I would also ask these critics to consider the bill he introduced 
with Senator Ted Kennedy, the now-departed ``liberal lion of the 
Senate,'' to use grant funding to reduce sexual assaults in prison. The 
legislation requires the Department of Justice to keep track of these 
assaults, and it was signed into law by President George W. Bush.
  Taken legislatively, these are not the sorts of actions that fit this 
distorted picture that some of the critics are already starting to draw 
about Senator Sessions and his record in the Senate or his character as 
a man.

[[Page S6511]]

  I have had the honor of working closely with Jeff on the Senate 
Judiciary Committee since I came to the Senate, and I am proud to call 
him a friend. Those who have watched him day-in and day-out understand 
his stalwart commitment to the rule of law and his deep and abiding 
concern for our country.
  Of course, we wouldn't be Senators if we didn't sometimes disagree 
with each other. It is just normal, but Senator Sessions has always 
engaged with seriousness and cordiality and the kind of civility this 
Chamber and this country could use more of. By the strength of his 
arguments, he has helped us all to see the weaknesses in our own 
arguments as he has worked together with his colleagues to try to help 
us build consensus, which is the only way we get anything done and the 
way our constitutional system was designed. Only by building consensus 
can we move our country forward.
  We are going to miss Senator Sessions in the Senate when he moves on 
to the executive branch as Attorney General, but it is even more 
important, at this point in this country's history, to have a champion 
of the Constitution and the rule of law at the Department of Justice 
and to help restore the reputation of that Department.
  As I said earlier, for years now--during the course of Attorney 
General Holder's tenure and unfortunately succeeded by Attorney General 
Lynch--the Department of Justice has twisted the Constitution to 
further the President's political agenda.
  I give just one example. When Congress was performing its legitimate 
oversight responsibilities into a gun-running operation gone wrong 
called Fast and Furious, Attorney General Holder was called before the 
Senate Judiciary Committee, called before our corresponding House 
committee, and simply defied those committees' lawful and appropriate 
oversight responsibilities over what the Department of Justice was 
  To my knowledge, this resulted in his having been the first Attorney 
General to be held in contempt of Congress--a sitting Attorney General 
of the United States held in contempt of Congress.
  Unfortunately, the Obama administration put politics ahead of our 
national commitment to the rule of law and too often demonized those 
who worked to protect us. I have every confidence that Senator 
Sessions, as the Attorney General of the United States, the head of the 
Department of Justice, and the Trump administration will defend the 
rule of law and will use his expertise in the Constitution to play an 
essential role in our President-elect's Cabinet. As a 15-year veteran 
of the Department, Senator Sessions understands better than most what 
needs to be done to help the Department of Justice refocus its 
responsibilities and its priorities.
  Here is the bottom line. We need people in the highest rungs of our 
government who will ensure our Constitution is preserved, protected, 
and defended. Senator Sessions, as the next Attorney General of the 
United States, will do just that.