Sessions AG Confirmation Hearing Set for January

Grassley promises ‘fair and thorough’ review by Judiciary Committee

Senate Judiciary Chairman Charles E. Grassley, left, and Sen. Jeff Sessions met shortly after the Alabama Republican was tapped by President-elect Donald Trump as his attorney general. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The confirmation hearing for Sen. Jeff Sessions to be attorney general will run for two days starting Jan. 10, Senate Judiciary Chairman Charles E. Grassley of Iowa announced Friday.

Grassley limited the length of the hearing, having said previously that he wants to head off Democratic attacks on the Alabama Republican’s character. He said prior confirmation hearings for attorney general nominees lasted one or two days and featured three to nine outside witnesses at each.

That’s half the number of days that Democrats sought for a Sessions confirmation hearing. Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, the committee’s incoming ranking member, and other Democrats wrote a letter to Grassley  in late November that asked for four days to thoroughly air the background of their colleague and former prosecutor who seeks to be the nation’s top law enforcement officer.

With vocal opposition to Sessions’ nomination from progressive advocacy groups, the hearing looks to be contentious. Democrats asked for time to examine Sessions’ record on immigration, violence against women, LGBT protections, racial justice, hate crimes, workers’ rights, voting rights, criminal justice and other issues.

Grassley also announced that Sessions has turned in answers to the committee’s questionnaire for presidential nominees, which the chairman said will become available on the panel’s website. It was not immediately available Friday night. The 33-page document was posted Friday night.

The questionnaire includes standard biographical information such as work history and public statements. But it also covers significant legal matters that a candidate has handled as well as sources of income and net worth statements.

Sessions’ hearing will also occur 32 days after he returned the committee’s questionnaire, affording adequate time for Judiciary members to prepare for the hearing, Grassley said in a statement.

“I appreciate Sen. Sessions’ prompt response. We will begin reviewing his questionnaire and going through the documents so we’re ready to hold a fair and thorough hearing on Jan. 10,” Grassley said. “We all know Sen. Sessions to be an honorable man who has held public office for more than 20 years. I look forward to hearing from him next month.”

Feinstein, in a letter to Grassley Friday night, said the questionnaire was not complete and stressed the need for a full record and time to review all the documents.

“For example, documents responsive to the question 12(d) requiring the production of all speeches or talks that he has delivered were not delivered,” she said. “We anticipate these documents will be voluminous.”

A judiciary committee spokeswoman said the documents were delivered to Feinstein’s office Friday night.

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