As the old saying goes, “you can’t win them all.” Another old saying, however, says that “if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.” A third saying tells us “you have to stand for something or you will fall for anything.” Senator Al Franken exemplified all three of those sayings in one dramatic and powerful Senate committee speech today. The hearing was intended to be and eventually became a “rubber stamp” approval from the GOP-dominated committee for Attorney General nominee, Jeff Sessions. Before that, though, Al Franken had something to say.
Franken began his remarks referring to a previous committee hearing in which the AG nominee answered questions regarding his qualifications for the post. In that hearing, which we covered here at ANX, Franken caught Sessions misrepresenting his record in the questionnaire that all nominees are required to fill out. Specifically, Sessions had claimed that he “personally handled” several civil rights cases that he indeed did not, as Franken showed in the hearing. After Franken departed to attend to other Senate business, Ted Cruz showed up to the hearing and attempted to make Franken look like a liar. Cruz, who is regarded as a smart lawyer, used bits and pieces of various testimony to make it look like Franken was lying and Sessions did indeed “personally handle” those cases.
Franken, who is not an attorney, completely took apart the guise that Cruz and Sessions tried to create. Franken went through the statements made by Sessions and Cruz’s defense. He showed how everything Cruz and the nominee had portrayed were every bit as false as Franken had originally stated. Cruz had claimed that the witness that Franken relied on had “recanted his testimony” when he hadn’t. Out of a 24 page Senate deposition in 1986, his witness, an attorney by the name of Hebert, had testified to having a fuzzy recollection of one event. After the hearing, the attorney went back, checked the record (voluntarily) and swiftly went back to the Senate and made the record clear. The correction was a few lines (3, to be exact) of 24 pages of testimony that remained intact. In fact, Cruz, after impugning the attorney’s character, used the testimony itself to attempt to rehabilitate his party’s nominee. That was a fact that didn’t get lost on Franken.
John Cornyn, jumped in to defend Cruz — well, not exactly “defend” his colleague but tried to shut down Franken’s truth telling. Cornyn claimed that Cruz wasn’t here so Franken was out of line to “attack” him. Franken fired back — telling Cornyn that he (Franken) wasn’t there when Cruz called him a liar and that he didn’t remember Cornyn having any “objections” to the chair then. Cornyn attempted to quip that “he didn’t remember being there. Unfortunately for him, the tape shows differently. Furthermore, Franken was correct, Cornyn was there (see pic below)
As they say –“things that make ya go hmmm.”
By the way, just minutes later, Cruz “happened” to be there when the vote took place yet refrained from even trying to argue with the facts that Franken had presented.
Check out the fiery exchange below;
After Franken shut down Cornyn’s faux “Southern Gentleman’s” approach to squelch the Democratic Senator with his obvious double standard, the Minnesota Senator continued to “unpack” the rest of Cruz and Sessions’ attempts to convolute the record and make Franken look bad. In the end, Franken clearly showed how his original assertions were spot-on and furthermore, Cruz’s follow-ups and the inclusion of other evidence actually made Franken’s case stronger. Through all the truth telling, you can see Cornyn and other Republican Senators being very uncomfortable as Franken took them to the woodshed.
It turns out, according to Franken, that the most “personal involvement” that Sessions actually had in any of the civil rights cases that he had claimed, was giving Hebert a key to the office so they could work weekends. Really.
Check out the rest of Franken’s spectacular fact-filled rant below;
Minutes later, the committee voted to approve the Sessions nomination to be debated on in the full Senate thanks to the GOP unanimously ignoring Franken’s facts that Sessions had lied on his questionnaire.
Liberals and progressives who have decided to #resist the actions of the Trump presidency that they deem as dangerous or harmful to the nation can take several things away from Franken’s stand this morning. First, that standing up for what is right is always a good thing. Second, standing up for justice doesn’t always mean victory, especially in the short term. Third, that win or lose, one must carry on and continue to fight for what they believe in. Many would say we need more like Al Franken in the Senate.