Sen. Franken Accuses Sen. Sessions of Misrepresenting His Record on Civil Rights

During a Senate confirmation hearing, Franken challenged Sessions' record.
11:46 | 01/11/17

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Transcript for Sen. Franken Accuses Sen. Sessions of Misrepresenting His Record on Civil Rights
In 2009. When you became. The ranking Republican on this committee you're interviewed. About how you would approach the committee's work. And nominations specifically. He said that. Democrats should expect you to be fair. Because you've been through this process yourself back in 1986. That you felt. Back then the community at distorted. You record. He said that moving forward. Quote. We are not going or misrepresent any nominee's record and we're not gonna lie about it unquote. And we certainly don't want to do that. To our college. But I also think it's fair to expect that sitting before us today. Date you or are going to misrepresent your own records this fares set it right now it's fair to good. Now in that same interview you said quote. I filed. Twenty earth thirty civil rights cases. To desegregate. Schools. And political organizations. And county commissions. When I was United States attorney. So twenty or thirty desegregation. Cases today and mystery that quote. I believe that's what I'm imparted thing. And I suspect. I said. Okay now that was 2009. But in November. This. Your your office quote when senator sessions of the US attorney he filed a number. Desegregation lawsuits and Alabama and not twenty or thirty this time but a number. So tell me. Did you file. Or near thirty. Desegregation. Cases or is some other number. Well thank you senator Bob Franken is important for us to be accurate. The records don't show their territory up thirty actually file cases some of the cases involve multiple defendants in multiple party line. To hit a screw or Ana county commission and insert for racial discrimination. But things of that nature. But the number would be less than that is we've a look at. So what what do you think would have cause it is today. I don't know not filed Twain theory that Zachary H Lowery head case is going throughout my district and some of them. Ponds where started before I came in continued after laughed. Some mom and mom were brought and then settled promptly. And so it was extraordinarily difficult actually. Surprise. To get our. Record by check in the docket she used to find out exactly. Rule how many cases weren't involved I hired one Allard from the Department of Justice agreed with remove large number aren't. But I know that record doesn't justify. The questioner you submitted for today. Shoot to list and described. The quote ten most significant litigated matters to you personally handle. Personally handled. And among the case you'd cases that you listed. That you personally handle our three voting rights cases and a desegregation. Case. Last week I should three attorneys who worked at the OJ and who actually brought three of the four cases. Who wrote an op Ed piece in which they say quote weaken state categorically. The sessions had no substantive involvement in any of them. No you originally said the U personally handled. Three of these cases but these lawyers. Say that you had no substantive. Involvement. Chenault chairman Grassley or would announce that that op Ed. From last Tuesday's Washington Post be entered into the record without objection will be in. Are they distorting her record here. Yes. On in fact one of riders there mr. Hebert who it's been a good bit of time in my office. He said I supported him in all the cases he brawl. That I was more supportive than almost any US attorney. And then I'm provided office space signed the complaint city Borough. And as you know on May knows senator Franken. When a lawyer signs a come flying. He's required to affirm that he believes in that complying and supports a complaint and supports that. Legal action which did we cities so that's your that's your personal involvement was it. Your name was on it well look. You can dispute. But there him impact or they import under question there another attorney who. Paula Hancock who brought cases in district. Said well attorney general claimed credit for the cases in the Department of Justice he saw nothing wrong with my. Claiming that this is the case that I'd hand okay two me though you couldn't disagree with that but. I wanna get through this I don't want here on the I want to get on the docket she my name is listed number one. On that OK thank for the case I'm not a lawyer. I'm one of the few men this committee in go to law school. And usually I get by this climate seems to me that a lawyer. If lawyers as doses name manager document. Here are filing there. That lawyer would be misrepresenting his record he said the used her personally handled. These cases. Two of the lawyers. Who wrote the op Ed have also some. It testimony for today's hearing. Mr. Gerry Hebert and mr. Jo rich mr. Hebert says quote. Litigated. Says he quote litigated personally two of the four cases you've listed said I can state with absolute certainty. The mr. sessions did not participate personally in either. Mr. rich worked on one of the four cases you listed he said quote I never met him. At that time nor any other time and he had no import. To the case. He's reprimand three of the four cases. That you claim. That we're among the top ten cases that you personally handle. Now. In years 1986 question there. You phrase used phrases like quote I prepared and tried the case as sole council and quote I was the lead prosecutor on this case. Assistant vice owns or. Whiting he is the same level detail in your 2016. Question. There. Looking at this questionnaire. Ray decided that was appropriate response and saw. It was a major historic cases in my office let me just replied senator Franken open in this fashion. Mr. Hebert. One in 1986. When he testified at my hearing. Said quote we have had difficulty with several US attorneys in cases we have warning to bring. We have not experienced that difficulty in the cases I have handled with mr. sessions in fact quite the contrary close quote. He goes on the say a bad occasion numerous times to ask for his assistance and got. I have been able to go to him. And he has had an open door policy. And I've taken advantage of that and found him cooperative. And that is an accurate statement I don't know mr. rich perhaps the annaly case that I never work he goes on the say. A lot of the case now all of us you've raised this question once the prices that you listed. Was a case that mr. rich handles so if you don't know him. It's hard for me to believe that you personally handled it well when. Found that. These cases. I had been supported while there I was mr. Hebert says quote. And yet I have needed mr. Hal sessions is now in those cases and he has provided that now every step of the way. In fact I would say that my experience that mr. sessions has led me to believe that I've received. More cooperation. From him more active involvement from him because I have called upon him close quote. Quote I have work side by side with him on some cases in the sense that I have had to go to him for some advice close to a. In some cases all were not necessarily the ones listed as well look it was thirty years ago and I I'm ma'am memory. No laws of this nature and my memory was my support for those guys your memory okay. Look I am not I'm one of the few members is committee's bill Zollars chairman and ranking. But when I hear I five killed. A case. You know I'd I'd eight. Don't know some of the parlance. But it might have a special meaning in. Legal parlance. But to me as a layman. It sounds to me all right filed means. I led the case. Or I supervise. The case. Doesn't mean that my name was on it. And it seems to me look are closed. Mr. chairman setting aside any political or ideological differences that you may I may have. DOJ is facing real challenges whether it's protecting civil rights. Defending national security and our country needs an attorney general who doesn't misrepresent. Or inflate. Their level involvement on any given issue. You know I consider this serious stuff. If you as I know that you would if you are my position. Well you're correct senator Franken we need to be accurate in what we side when this issue was. Raised. I did do a supplement elements that are provided assistance and guidance that civil rights division attorneys. Had an open door policy with them and cooperate with them on these cases close quote. Signed them supported cases. And attempted to be as effective as I could be in helping them be successful. In these his start cases. I did feel that they were the kind of cases they were nationally ensco and deserved be listed on the phone. If found in an era apologized to the I don't think I'll laws. Well O. Do you couldn't find twenty or thirty desegregation. Cases that you stated view had participated in. And you don't sound like you personally handled cases that you say you are allows on thank you radio interview that any records and that was my amendment to. Think you hand movement and.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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