Senate

Dem senator on Sessions: ‘I don’t know how he can be attorney general’

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (N.Y.) is questioning Sen. Jeff Sessions’s understanding of sexual assault, joining a growing chorus of Democrats concerned about the Alabama Republican becoming attorney general. 

“If he doesn’t understand the basic tenets of what sexual assault is, I don’t think he has the background and knowledge he will need to be attorney general,” she told a local New York radio station on Monday. 
 
{mosads}Gillibrand, who has offered legislation aimed at combating sexual assault, added she has “very grave concerns” about Sessions becoming the country’s top law enforcement official. 
 
Sessions came under fire last month for his views on sexual assault. Asked about a 2005 tape of President-Elect Donald Trump talking about groping and kissing women without their consent, Sessions told The Weekly Standard, “I don’t characterize that as sexual assault.” 
 
The GOP senator called the Weekly Standard report “completely inaccurate” and said it “misrepresented my views.”
 
Gillibrand told the radio station that Sessions’s original remarks are “so offensive and so dangerous and if he doesn’t understand the basics of what sexual assault is, I don’t know how he can be attorney general.” 
 
Gillibrand isn’t on the Judiciary Committee, which will begin consideration of Sessions’s nomination in the Senate, but said she would pay attention to his hearings and “give him the opportunity to speak about” how he would lead the Department of Justice. 
 
Senate Democrats have largely pledged to fight Sessions’s nomination, arguing the pick plays into larger concerns they have about the Trump administration. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) has called on Trump to reverse the pick. 
 
But they’ll face an uphill fight to block Sessions from becoming attorney general. The GOP senator will need a simple majority instead of the higher 60-vote threshold because of Democrats’ decision to gut the filibuster in 2013 on most nominations. 
 
Republicans are expected to have a 52 vote threshold in 2017 with moderate GOP senators— including Sens. Susan Collins (Maine) and Jeff Flake (Ariz.) — already signaling they will vote for Sessions. 
 
Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), a red-state Democrat up for reelection in 2018, also said last week that he will break with his party and support Sessions. 
Tags Donald Trump Elizabeth Warren Jeff Flake Jeff Sessions Joe Manchin Kirsten Gillibrand Susan Collins

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