For more than two decades, Jeff Sessions has been removed from the direct practice of law, occupying the rarified strata of the legal profession that winds up in elected office. This rust not only showed during Sessions’ testimony before the senate yesterday, it might well end up necessitating his removal from office. Thanks to the no-nonsense questioning from Senators like Kamala Harris (D-California) and Angus King (I-Maine), Session’s opening statement was broken down bit by bit.
In that statement, the AG did his best impression of Claude Rains from Casablanca by acting shocked — shocked! — at the suggestion that he might have had improper meetings with the Russian ambassador and proven spy Sergei Kislyak. “I did not have any private meetings, nor do I recall any conversations with any Russian officials at the Mayflower Hotel,” Sessions stated, ostensibly putting an end to that particular set of damning suggestions. But when pressed, just minutes later, Sessions’ story had already changed. Bear in mind, the AG was under oath for this.
“It would've been certainly, I can assure you, nothing improper, if I'd had a conversation with him,” he said. “And it's conceivable that that occurred. I just don't remember it.” Later, under the intense questioning of Kamala Harris, one of the most feared prosecutors in the country, Sessions backtracked again, saying he’d need to “qualify” his answer. “Will you let me qualify it? If I don't qualify it you'll accuse me of lying. So, I need to be correct as best I can," Sessions said. "And I'm not able to be rushed this fast, it makes me nervous." Incidentally, John McCain, the Senate’s resident senile uncle who no one admits is senile, made his most important addition to the dialogue at this point, cutting Harris off to scold her for being tough on Sessions. As I’m certainly not the only one to point out, it’s difficult to imagine this kind of crassness being inflicted on a senator who is not a woman of color. (The scolding is the second such incident in the past week, and Harris’s response has fueled rumors of a 2020 presidential run.)
Sessions’ claim that he might “not remember” and his fear at being rushed into making a mistake showed just how long Sessions had been absent from the courtroom, and viewers could see the old prosecutor in Harris rearing back to pounce. If ever there was a time to let someone go over their limit, it was then: Harris would have likely had Sessions struggling through a tearful confession if given 90 minutes. But luckily Harris wasn’t the only senator on the dais who realizes, unlike Gov. Mike Huckabee, that the Attorney General is Donald Trump’s personal lawyer: Senator Angus King, fed up with Sessions’ chronic memory loss about anything to do with Russia (“I don’t recall” is practically his catch phrase), King straight up accused Sessions of impeding the investigation.
But there were some who are so clearly entrenched in Trumpism, like Arkansas Republican Tom Cotton, that instead of doing any investigating, they made light of what is fast proving to be the most coordinated cyber attack on American democracy ever.
“Do you like Jason Bourne or James Bond movies?" asked Cotton.
"Yes, I do," said Sessions after a giggle went up in the room.
"Have you ever in any of these fantastical situations heard of a plotline so ridiculous that a sitting United States Senator and an ambassador of a foreign government colluded at an open setting, with hundreds of other people, to pull off the greatest caper in the history of espionage?" Cotton asked.
"Thank you for saying that, Sen. Cotton," Sessions said.
You heard it, folks. Let’s close the book on this one. John Le Carre never thought of it, so it couldn’t possibly happen.