Jeff Sessions’ confirmation for Attorney General will be a bipartisan affair after all. Sessions has attracted the most attention from Democrats opposed to the incoming Donald Trump administration, and they threw the kitchen sink at Sessions during his confirmation hearing this week — including an attention-seeking stunt by Cory Booker. Nonetheless, Joe Manchin (D-WV) told Fox and Friends that his colleagues didn’t lay a glove on him, and that he’ll vote to confirm his “friend”:
Manchin took a slap at his Democratic colleagues for their attempts at character assassination, albeit in a barely veiled fashion:
MANCHIN: Jeff Sessions has my vote, he’s my friend. I’ve built relationships and friendships here. I don’t care whether they’re Democrats, Republicans, independents. We were sent here, basically sent here to work to make America better, and Jeff Sessions, I’ve known him for six years. We’ve been friends, we talk about an array of things. I have never detected — never one ounce of detection — that Jeff Sessions is what they have said.
How many other red-state Democrats in the upper chamber will join Manchin in confirming Sessions? Manchin offered the other, more content-neutral argument, which is that an incoming president should be given wide discretion on Cabinet officials when no evidence of corruption or incompetence has been presented against him or her. It seems doubtful that other members of Chuck Schumer’s caucus will go as far as Manchin does here in testifying to Sessions’ good character, but those who have to face voters in 2018 that just elected Trump in 2016 might seize the procedural argument. That’s why Manchin made it, of course.
Don’t expect too many others to join Manchin, though. Both Schumer and Richard Blumenthal have already announced that they’ll vote against Sessions in the confirmation vote, decisions that will surprise literally no one:
“After reviewing his record and giving careful consideration to his answers during the hearing, I am not confident in Senator Sessions’ ability to be a defender of the rights of all Americans, or to serve as an independent check on the incoming administration,” the New York Democrat said in a statement. “I am also deeply concerned by his views on immigration, which I saw firsthand during the push for comprehensive immigration reform. For those reasons, I will oppose his nomination to serve as the next attorney general.”
That used to matter … until Harry Reid got greedy and left his rump caucus with no leverage at all on confirmations in this session of Congress. For that matter, Democrats attempted to torpedo Sessions thirty years ago over nonsense allegations. Had they left him alone, Sessions might still be a federal judge rather than a Senator and now the Attorney General. Karma has been tough on Democrats the last few weeks.