While President Donald Trump has been stymied on many fronts — the legal challenges to his refugee ban, the defeat of the AHCA, and the complete lack so far of any legislative accomplishments — Jeff Sessions is firmly in place as the nation’s top law enforcement officer. And he has been busy.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions threatened on March 27 to cut off U.S. Justice Department grants to cities that fail to assist federal immigration authorities, moving the Trump administration closer to a potential clash with leaders of America's largest urban centers.
Sessions' statements were aimed at a dozens of cities and other local governments, including New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago, that have joined a growing "sanctuary" movement aimed at shielding illegal immigrants from stepped-up deportation efforts.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from investigations surrounding Russian involvement in the presidential election "to the extent they exist," in an impromptu news conference March 2. The move comes after the Washington Post broke news the night before that he twice spoke with Russia's ambassador last year and that he did not disclose the conversations when pressed during his Senate confirmation hearing.
On Feb. 17, by a 52-46 vote, the U.S. Senate confirmed Scott Pruitt as the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency. Pruitt’s nomination by President Donald Trump to head the agency was decried by many as soon as it was announced, due to Pruitt’s history of opposition to the standards of the agency he now leads; Pruitt even sued the EPA 14 times.
During a second night of Senate Democrats holding the floor — this time protesting the confirmation of Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) as attorney general — Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) invoked a little-used rule to prevent Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) from continuing testimony after she read a 1986 letter from Coretta Scott King.
African-American women of faith joined other women and political leaders in a “pray-in” on April 15 to call on Republicans to quit delaying the confirmation of attorney general nominee Loretta Lynch.
“We’re standing before dead ears and asking you to open them up right now, God, that they might hear you,” prayed the Rev. Barbara Williams-Skinner , co-chair of the National African American Clergy Network.
“That they would wake up now from a dead sleep, unaware that America, Americans of all types and backgrounds, are united behind the fundamental concept of fairness.”
President Obama nominated Lynch, the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York, in November, but her confirmation process has stalled on Capitol Hill.
In addition to prayers, the women leaders said they will start fasting until a decision is made, and they invited women of all backgrounds as well as men to fast, too. They are joining with the Rev. Al Sharpton’s National Action Network in a “ Confirm Lynch Fast .”
NAN Executive Director Janaye Ingram asked that participants contact Senate offices when they normally would be eating. Fasters were expected to abstain from food one day at a time and be replaced by others the next day.
Several congresswomen, including Democratic House Judiciary Committee members Reps. Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas and Judy Chu of California, stopped by the pray-in, and at least one pledged to fast.
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The forthcoming dedication of the national memorial monument honoring Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., affords an opening for considering the complexity and meaning of his leadership. He was not the tamed and desiccated civil hero as often portrayed in the United States around the time of his birthday, celebrated as a national holiday. He was until the moment of his death raising issues that challenged the conventional wisdom on poverty and racism, but also concerning war and peace.
King was in St. Joseph's Infirmary, Atlanta, for exhaustion and a viral infection when it was reported that he would receive the 1964 Nobel Peace Prize. As Gary M. Pomerantz writes in Where Peachtree Meets Sweet Auburn, this was the apparent cost exacted by intelligence surveillance efforts and the pressures of learning that Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy had formally approved wiretaps by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. His evolving strength as a leader is revealed in his remarks in Norway that December, which linked the nonviolent struggle of the U.S. civil rights movement to the entire planet's need for disarmament.