14 June 2017

The Masterclass

Attorney General Jeff Sessions' testimony yesterday before the Senate Intelligence Committee was nothing short of a travesty. The Washington Post published a good overview last night of the event (link here) in the event you didn't happen to see it.

If this was supposed to be a convincing rebuttal to former FBI Director James Comey's riveting testimony last week before the same committee, the White House failed miserably. The majority of Sessions' responses were either pleas of forgetfulness or an absurd attempt to invoke executive privilege.

For being an attorney and the Attorney General, Sessions seems not to understand that the President, not his subordinates, is the only one who can exert executive privilege. But even if a cabinet secretary could claim executive privilege for someone not his client, it does not extend to simple questions of fact, particularly whether he discussed Comey’s handling of Russia investigation with Donald Trump.

Two excellent print summaries did a fine job of exposing yesterday's testimony for the farce that it was. First, Charles Pierce has a great piece in Esquire (link here) with the title "How Many Lies Did You Count During Jeff Sessions' Testimony?" And The New York Times ran a terrific Andrew Rosenthal op-ed (link here) titled "Jeff Sessions Gives a Master Class in Dissembling."

Of course, congressional committees are more about theater and pleasing partisan constituents. The real heavy lifting in any investigation of this sort is being done by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, the FBI, and at least one known grand jury.

In Watergate, the congressional committees provided high drama and riveting on-screen moments. But the real case was made behind closed doors in the grand jury room where all the indictments were issued.

We can only hope that, with this Trump scandal, the indictments will be as plentiful.

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