03 March 2017

Sessions Must Go

The news has been filled with revelations in the past media cycle about how Attorney General Jeffrey Sessions lied to Congress about contacting the Russian government when he was playing a major part in Donald Trump's campaign. The New York Times published a strong editorial yesterday (link here) that provides a good short synopsis of the scandal to date.

This unfolding crisis involves two separate but related matters: first is whether or not a special prosecutor will be appointed to investigate illegal contact in 2016 and earlier between the Trump campaign and the Russian government and officials. Second is Session's perjury, multiple times, before Congress.

These two related scandals are each independent of each other. However, Session's perjury underscores how his subordinates cannot direct an investigation of him and, therefore, an independent prosecutor is absolutely essential.

Sessions announced late yesterday he would have no personal involvement in any Russian investigations but otherwise took no steps toward turning the matter over to a special prosecutor.

Sessions can hardly claim the matter does not warrant an independent prosecutor. When he was a senator, he regularly called for special prosecutors to investigate both the Clinton and Obama administrations for comparatively minor transgressions.

Three possible outcomes to this crisis are apparent. First, Sessions does nothing and just has a subordinate investigate the matters. That's the Nixonian approach. Nixon and his people tried to ignore away the mushrooming catastrophe of Watergate, and that approach failed miserably.

Second, while not becoming involved in any way in the process, Sessions can demand the whole matter be turned over to a special prosecutor. Considering his past statements about other administrations, he will forever be weakened as a hypocrite if he refuses to do this, at a minimum.

Third, Sessions can resign outright. For those of us in the LGBT community, because of unrelated issues, that's the best course of action. But it's also the best course of action for the entire country.

The Attorney General is more than just an important lawyer. He or she is the nation's highest level of law enforcement officer. He or she decides what cases to prosecute and how to prosecute them.

However, when an Attorney General commits perjury -- both orally and in written testimony, as happened with Sessions -- then the honor and integrity of the government's law enforcement efforts are forever tainted.

How can Sessions argue for justice and punishment of wrongdoers when he's committed criminal acts himself?

If Sessions resigns, as previously noted, that will almost certainly be good news for the LGBT community because it's hard to imagine a replacement who would be more homophobic than he.

If Sessions does not resign, then everything he does as Attorney General to target the LGBT community will repeatedly underscore what a corrupt hypocrite he is.

He will be persecuting innocent LGBT Americans while skating away from legal scrutiny himself for actual crimes. Such behavior is encouraged in totalitarian governments but intolerable in democracies.

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