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8 Ways in Which Jeff Sessions Sucked

The former attorney general's worst hits

DOJDOJOn his way out the door yesterday, former Attorney General Jeff Sessions took credit for reversing an upswing in violent crime. "We prosecuted the largest number of violent offenders and firearm defendants in our country's history," he said in his resignation letter. "We took on transnational gangs that are bringing violence and death across our borders and protected national security. We did our part to restore immigration enforcement. We targeted the opioid epidemic by prosecuting doctors, pharmacists, and anyone else who contributes to this crisis with new law enforcement tools and determination. And we have seen results. After two years of rising violent crime and homicides prior to this administration, those trends have reversed—thanks to the hard work of our prosecutors and law enforcement around the country."

It is true that the murder and violent crime rates went up in 2015 and 2016 before falling in 2017, but it is ludicrous for Sessions to suggest that he is responsible for that improvement. Leaving aside the limited role that the federal government plays in criminal justice, Sessions wants us to believe that things he did after taking office in February 2017 had an immediate, magical effect on violence, such that there were 3,341 fewer murders that year than in 2016.

So no, I will not remember Jeff Sessions as the attorney general who conquered violent crime in America. Instead I will remember him for much less admirable episodes like these:

1. The time Jeff Sessions told prosecutors to seek the harshest possible penalties against drug offenders. Federal drug penalties are based on weight, without regard to a defendant's culpability or dangerousness. As a result, nonviolent, low-level drug offenders can qualify for draconian mandatory minimum sentences. In 2013, Eric Holder, Barack Obama's first attorney general, tried to address that problem by urging federal prosecutors to omit drug weight from charges against nonviolent offenders who did not have leadership roles, significant criminal histories, or significant ties to large-scale drug trafficking organizations. Sessions reversed that policy, telling prosecutors to pursue the most serious provable charges.

2. That time Jeff Sessions opposed sentencing reform. Sessions adamantly resisted legislation aimed at making the criminal justice system slightly less mindlessly punitive, including reforms supported by conservative Republicans. He rejected the distinction between violent and nonviolent drug offenders, insisting that "drug trafficking is an inherently violent business." He even argued that Holder's modest restraint on the use of mandatory minimums, which affected something like 500 defendants a year and was not announced until August 2013, caused the 2015 increase in violent crime.

3. That time Jeff Sessions told pain patients to "take some aspirin" and "tough it out." One way Sessions "targeted the opioid epidemic" was by demanding arbitrary reductions in prescriptions for pain medication, without regard to the impact on bona fide patients. Based on the conviction that "this country prescribes too many opioids," he urged people suffering from severe pain to emulate White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, who stoically refused prescription analgesics after hand surgery. Although "it did hurt," Sessions said, "you can get through these things." People with severe chronic pain were flabbergasted. "I could not believe what I was reading," one told me, "and I thought that has to be somebody who has never experienced really severe pain for any length of time."

4. That time Jeff Sessions stopped the DEA from licensing new producers of marijuana. The federal government's monopoly on the legal production of cannabis, which had for decades impeded studies of the plant's therapeutic benefits, seemed to finally be cracking in 2016, when the Drug Enforcement Administration said it would start accepting applications from additional producers. But so far no licenses have been issued thanks to Sessions' obstruction, which he has tried to justify with increasingly lame excuses. Sessions hated pot so much that he was prepared to stand in the way of research that could lead to breakthrough treatments for people with debilitating diseases such as epilepsy. Apparently he thinks they, too, just need to tough it out.

5. That time Jeff Sessions threatened to obliterate the newly legal cannabis industry. Sessions, who as a senator declared that "good people don't smoke marijuana," made noises about shutting down state-licensed cannabusinesses from the beginning of his tenure at the Justice Department. About a year later, he finally got around to withdrawing the Obama-era DOJ memos that discouraged federal prosecutors from targeting state-legal marijuana growers and distributors. Nothing much happened as a result of that shift, mainly because U.S. attorneys were not interested in a crackdown. Furthermore, Sessions' desire to reverse marijuana legalization was inconsistent with his boss's promise to respect state autonomy—a principle Sessions also claims to support.

6. That time Jeff Sessions expanded civil asset forfeiture. In 2015, Eric Holder limited the ability of local law enforcement agencies to enlist the Justice Department's help in dodging state limits on the form of legalized theft known as civil asset forfeiture, which lets cops take money and other property by claiming it is connected to illegal activity even when the owner is never charged with a crime. No longer could run-of-the-mill forfeitures be "adopted" by the DOJ so local cops and prosecutors could benefit from federal rules that make it easier to take people's stuff and allow them to keep a larger share of the proceeds. Sessions scrapped that reform, because "civil asset forfeiture is a key tool" for law enforcement.

7. That time Jeff Sessions threatened to kidnap the children of people who cross the border without permission. "If you cross this border unlawfully, then we will prosecute you," Sessions said in a speech describing the Trump administration's "zero tolerance" immigration policy. "If you are smuggling a child, then we will prosecute you, and that child will be separated from you as required by law. If you don't like that, then don't smuggle children over our border."

8. That time Jeff Sessions violated the Constitution by threatening to withhold grants from sanctuary cities. Another way Sessions tried to "restore immigration enforcement" was by conditioning law enforcement grants on local cooperation with the Trump administration's efforts to catch and expel people living in this country without the government's approval. That tactic was immediately challenged in court, and Sessions lost over and over again, because the executive branch does not have the authority to unilaterally attach strings to federal grants approved by Congress.

Scott Shackford may be right that Sessions' replacement will not be noticeably better. But I will be impressed if he manages to be worse.

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  • some guy||

    When Sessions was named I said that he was the worst possible choice because he was as bad as someone could be on policy while still being competent enough to enact those policies. I wish I had been wrong.

    The good news, of course, is that if Sessions was the worst possible choice then we can only get a better one next time.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    Politics can always get better.

  • MatthewSlyfield||

    But rarely does.

  • Anomalous||

    Do you seriously think Chris Christie would be better?

  • Wizard4169||

    Hard as it is to imagine, I think the next guy could actually be worse. As much as I despise the evil-minded little troll, Sessions did have some shred of integrity; he was basically fired for not being enough of a partisan hack. His replacement will presumably be a lot more willing to carry Trump's water, and I can't see that going anywhere good.

  • John||

    If there has ever been an AG who was worth a shit, I can't remember who it was. The last seven AGs have been

    Janet Reno
    John Ashcroft
    Alberto Gonzalez
    Michael Mukasey
    Eric Holder
    Lorreta Lynch
    Jeff Sessions

    Other than Mukasey, who held the position for a little over a year at the end of the Bush Administration and seems to have been an empty suit, I defy anyone to explain how any of them were not just as awful as the rest.

  • Tony||

    Did they not waterboard enough people with no trial or charges for your liking?

  • John||

    Did Janet Reno not burn enough children on national TV to death for you Tony? Or send enough innocent people to jail on hyusterical child molestation charges? Did Eric Holder not lie to Congress enough for you or send enough guns to Mexican drug gangs? Or assasinate enough American citizens for you?

    That you could still bitch about Water Boarding after Obama ordered the murder of an American citizen is breathtaking even for you.

    Burning children to death and sending innocent people to prison is what you are all about isn't it Tony?

  • Tony||

    Only Democrats do anything wrong. We all get it John.

  • John||

    No Republicans do too. My list includes both parties. You are the one who is incapable of admitting any fault in your side. Not me.

  • Tony||

    I do so, I just have perspective that comes from a baseline of reality.

  • John||

    No you don't. I have never once seen you admit fault in a Democrat. You can't even admit Janet Reno burning people to death or Eric Holder and Obama murdering an American citizen is wrong without claiming "but the Republicans are worse". You have no grasp of reality. And there is nothing any Democrat could do, no matter how bad that woudl cause you to question your loyalty to them.

  • Tony||

    1) We only get two choices, and Republicans are always far, far worse. Bush burned down a whole country based on fake intelligence of fake WMDs. You think that is equal to or more forgivable than the Branch Davidians burning themselves down. You don't give the first slimy shit about targeted assassinations. You only care about zinging Obama. I know this because you aren't bitching about Bush or Trump's foreign policy at all. You're cherry picking minor things just because Democrats did them. You are a nutfuckcase and you need to be put in a room with a small circle window, because I don't think there's any helping you, really.

  • John||

    ) We only get two choices, and Republicans are always far, far worse

    Yes Tony, you will always claim that no matter what the facts. You are so stupid you don't even understand when you give away an argument. I almost feel sorry for you sometimes.

  • Tony||

    Republicans, alone among political parties in the entire world, do not believe climate change is a real thing.

    Game over. Fuck whatever else they claim to believe in, and it isn't much beyond looting the country for plutocrats and making idiots like you scared of brown people and gays. Fuck them. They are a death cult.

  • John||

    Wow Tony you are a raving lunatic who thinks Republican are always worse than Democrats

    Tony I am no such thing, now let me proceed to rant and rave about how Republicans are always worse than Democrats.

    I would say you were a bot, but no programer would make a bot like you because they would figure no one would believe it.

  • ||

    Republicans, alone among political parties in the entire world, do not believe climate change is a real thing.

    You've been corrected on this so many times it beggars belief that you still repeat it, but there you are.

    Almost no one denies that climate change is happening. Not even Republicans. The standard Republican position is that whatever you believe about the science, government has no real role in addressing climate change, because government according to its own metrics and framing of the problem has only made things worse.

    You can disagree with that - many people do - but at least characterize it accurately. Otherwise everyone here will continue to think of you as a dishonest partisan hack.

  • Ordinary Person||

    Trump denied it was happening. Claimed it was a Chinese hoax. Made derisive statements on really cold days. I find shotloads of quotes from Republicans denying anything is happening.

  • ||

    Trump says a lot of things. I believe by tally he has expressed more belief that global warming is happening than non-belief.

    I find shotloads of quotes from Republicans denying anything is happening.

    I'm sure you do. Nevertheless, the fact is that almost no one actually denies that the global climate is warming. It's a flat-out mis-characterization of the dominant opinion among Republicans.

  • Tony||

    Just go fuck yourself. The world actually does not have time for the "whatabout bacterial flagella!" phase of climate change denial.

    If you refute what science the world over says, you are the enemy to my children, and that means you can fuck off and die.

  • Last of the Shitlords||

    Children? You may drop some jizz infested shit babies in the crapper, but you sure as fuck aren't producing children.

  • Last of the Shitlords||

    Tony, is there anyone responsible for you we can contact to have you taken down to the vet so you can be out to sleep? Best thing for you really, your commentary is going nowhere.

  • No Yards Penalty||

    "You think that is equal to or more forgivable than the Branch Davidians burning themselves down. "

    suck a bag of dicks, Tony.
    Oh, right. That's your hobby. Commie faggot.

  • ||

    Only Democrats do anything wrong. We all get it John.

    This is silly even for you, Tony. I mean, I enjoy watching you and John throw down as much as the next guy (not really - I actually tend to scroll right past), but John's list was literally a bi-partisan run-down of recent AGs literally commenting that they all sucked.

    And this is your takeaway.

  • Leo Kovalensky II||

    I had almost completely forgotten about Janet Reno until just now. Thanks for that, John. Thanks.

  • Gray_Jay||

    She took full responsibility for what happened. What more could you have possibly wanted from her than that?

  • John||

    She heard those children might be being molested. She had no choice but to burn them all alive. They were being molested. She had to incinerate them to save them.

  • DiegoF||

    Once upon a time she would have been content to simply torment "molested children" until they told her what she wanted to hear. She had to step up her game when she hit the big time.

  • D-Pizzle||

    Too many people forget that she was at the vanguard of the idiotic day care molestation frauds; she and the equally horrible Martha Coakley in Massachusetts.

  • Jayburd||

    That gave me a brainstorm. Anatomically correct dolls filled wih tear gas.

  • DiegoF||

    I was actually going to ask you one of these days who the last good attorney general was. They all are such utter pieces of shit. And I wanted to know why? What is it about the position that makes moral repulsiveness such a bipartisan job requirement? We do not normally expect political bureaucrats to be the finest Americans, but this position is regularly filled by the biggest piece of shit in the entire cabinet!

  • John||

    William Pierce Rogers. He was the AG under Eisenhower and was the behind the integration of Little Rock High School and a lot of other places in the South. He seems to be the last one who had any honor or did anything good.

  • Sometimes a Great Notion||

    Bobby Kennedy doesn't seem to bad on paper allthough I maybe forgetting some bs (he was long dead before I was born). Fighting communists, Union and Mobsters and was also good on civil rights.

  • John||

    He also abused the hell out of hte FBI spying on MLK and anyone else that the kennedy's didn't like.

  • Gaear Grimsrud||

    Yeah if memory serves me he gave us RICO one of the most amazing assaults on free association ever imagined. He was a radical police statist and his legacy is the ability of the federal government to prosecute virtually anyone. He was a total asshole just like his big brother and the younger one who tragically was not assassinated

  • D-Pizzle||

    You had to go way back for that one. We might as well discuss prosecutorial standards in ancient Greece.

  • Jerryskids||

    Jesus, I've said it a dozen times here - the AG is not the government's top law enforcement official, he's the President's. His job is to protect the President from any legal troubles by making the argument - in one form or another - that when the President does it that means it's not illegal. Being a piece of shit is a top requirement for the job, but as with so many of his other picks, Trump is terrible at picking talent. You don't want an evil piece of shit like Sessions at AG, you want a slimy piece of shit like Loretta Lynch. If Trump knew his shit, Fat Boy or 9/11 would have gotten the AG office because they have absolutely nothing else going on and Sessions has options, he doesn't need Trump's shit the way those two toadies do.

  • tlapp||

    A disgusting list. Only thing worse is Sessions likely to run for his old Senate seat in 2020 and win. Can't seem to get rid of these dinosaurs.

  • Tony||

    I don't know why Crossfit bro should be less of a cunt on marijuana and incarceration, but at least he's willing to have no ethics and let POTUS become a tinpot dictator. Which, and this is seriously the case, is something most of the people here actually think is good. Whether they think it's libertarian--I'm not sure you idiots care anymore.

  • John||

    So tell us Tony, just where did Trump get that pen and phone?

  • Tony||

    You're pathologically brain pickled John. Read a real newspaper. Like, just for one day.

  • John||

    The Democrats spent 8 years allowing Obama to completely ingore Congress and use his "pen and phone". If you don't like Trump doing the same, you should have thought about that before you let Obama do it.

  • Tony||

    Because Republicans--Trump especially--are known for looking to Democrats as role models.

    You must believe your own bullshit because if you didn't you certainly couldn't think that I buy it.

  • John||

    If Obama can do it, why can't Trump? You seem to think that everyone else should live by standards you would never apply to yourself. It doesn't work that way dipshit. What you do to others, they can do to you.

  • Tony||

    Do what? Do you even know what the fuck you're talking about, or your brain filled entirely by slogans supplied by Fucker Carlson? Pen and a phone? Trump's executive order orgy is not Obama's fault. Why don't you people ever accept any responsibility for anything you do?

  • John||

    Ignore congress and act with his pen and phone. The Obama administration lied to Congress multiple times and Eric Holder was held in contempt. Obama acted unlawfully so many times that he set a record for losing 9-0 Supreme Court decisions. And no one your side did anything but cheer him on. You can't now complain if Trump acts the same way, though you wil because you are mentally defective and completely incapable of understanding what standards and logic mean.

  • Last of the Shitlords||

    Tony wears a bright blue shirt that says "it's ok when we do it".

  • chemjeff radical individualist||

    Which, and this is seriously the case, is something most of the people here actually think is good.

    And they think that it's the immigrants who will turn the US into a banana republic.

  • Chili Dogg||

    Democrats are taking care of that job.

    See: Broward County, FL

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Scott Shackford may be right that Sessions' replacement will not be noticeably better. But I will be impressed if he manages to be worse.

    Then get ready for New Jersey Democrat Chris Christie.

  • John||

    I think that is a trial balloon or a striaght up lie. I will believe that when I see it.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Then I hope you never have to believe it.

  • John||

    Me too.

  • Sometimes a Great Notion||

    Its Trump's lowest bid in the negotiation. If you fuck with my guy I'll nominate Christie. You can't metoo Christie because know one will believe the fat fuck can find his dick let alone muster the energy to use it.

  • John||

    A metoo allegation against Christie would leave the nation forever scared by being forced to hear the details. No one wants that. Just give him whoever he wants. Anyone to spare the nation of that horror.

  • Leo Kovalensky II||

    True fact: Chris Christie once boofed an entire pepperoni pizza.

  • John||

    Believe all pastry.

  • Juice||

    And boofed means farted, right?

  • Leo Kovalensky II||

    Of all the people to be the top cop in the land, Chris Christie fits the bill perfectly.

  • gaoxiaen||

    Trial blimp.

  • Calidissident||

    I don't know, he might have to fight Rudy Giuliani to the death before that happens.

  • Shirley Knott||

    Good.
    Can the dead one be the AG?

  • John||

    The Justice Department richly deserves having an asshiole like Giulliani inflicted on them. Christie is just fat, lazy and stupid. He would be a nonentity. But Giulliani would torture those people. It would be Trump exacting his revenge for all of the pre election spying DOJ did.

  • Bubba Jones||

    Giuliani would be a perfect choice. I would love to see the arguments that he was "unqualified."

  • Gray_Jay||

    Honestly, I can see Giuliani taking the gig. It'd show he's recovered from his prostate cancer, or whatever disability got uncovered which kicked him out of the Presidential primary a few years back. AG isn't that different from the US Atty job he made his career on. And he's certainly enough of a pit bull to satisfy Trump's base that wants swamp-draining, while being enough of a career politician to reassure the Senate that "He can't possibly mean me?!"

  • John||

    He is a law and order asshole but everyone who gets the job is. I don't see how he would be any worse than Sessions and he might be better in some ways. I do think he would clean up DOJ. He was a US attorney and knows how it works and would know how to clean it up. He is not my favorite politician but I think he is honest and would do something about the politization and corruption there.

  • Remember to keep it all polit||

    Don't forget he looked like one of two Laugh-In leftovers.

  • Calidissident||

    This is what happens when you make a living caricature of an over the top 80s drug warrior AG.

  • Shirley Knott||

    Hey, Sessions turned out to be the one antiquated Southern monument Trump was willing to remove.

  • Juice||

    This picture of Jeff Sessions searing in as AG speaks 1000 words about what kind of person he is and what kind of AG he would be.

  • Juice||

    Maybe he should have been seared in instead. Keeps in the juices.

  • Dune||

    9. Major share holder in Vanguard - largest private prison builder / operator.. no conflict there eh?

  • John||

    No kidding? I am not saying it isn't true, but do you have a link to that?

  • SIV||

    According to Snopes

    Sessions has a a broad market index mutual fund that owns 2 private prison companies along with 3500+ other companies. He probably has no idea he owns any.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    If he reads Snopes he does.

  • Two Buck Chuck||

    I like how he said DOJ did "their part" in restoring immigration enforcement...Who else exactly enforces federal law?

  • No Yards Penalty||

    Jeff Sessions is a southern hillbilly Jeebus-fellating garden gnome who shouldn't have had the job in the first place, as evidence here. That he got fired for the wrong reason doesn't make me cry at all.

  • Jerry B.||

    But tell us. When Sessions sucked, did he use a disposable plastic straw?

  • 1440 minutes||

    Yet Jeff Sessions allowed an investigation against a would-be tyrant.

  • Enemy of the State||

    Only 8?

  • JRuss||

    Trump said he didn't discuss Mueller with Whitaker. Well that's it then, I'm sure the pathological proven serial lying President of all time wouldn't lie about something like that.

  • PaulTheBeav||

    Appointing Sessions is the worst thing Trump ever did.

  • LEAPGuyAZ||

    The article says "We targeted the opioid epidemic by prosecuting doctors, pharmacists, and anyone else who contributes to this crisis" This created an atmosphere of fear among physicians who force tapered opioid patients creating the opportunity for Mexican Cartels to flood America with easy to manufacture Fentanyl.

    Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that's 100 times as potent as morphine. No more going through the hassle of growing poppies, transporting raw opium, processing it into heroin, and smuggling it North. Just setup a lab and produce as much Fentanyl as you want.

    The best part is rather than Mexican Cartels trying to smuggle 100 pounds of heroin into the US, a sizable package, they just slip a one pound package of Fentanyl through or over the border fence/wall......

    Thank You Jeff Sessions, thank you for increasing the amount of illicit opioids in the U.S., thank you for all the Fentanyl overdoses, and thank you for increasing the profits of Mexican Cartels, God knows their profits have dropped significantly with marijuana legalization.....

  • dsquaredoutlet||

    States cannot pass ex post facto criminal laws, any more than Congress can; this is one of the very few things the pre-Reconstruction constitution had to say about state governments. Not to worry, though. If the distinguished gentlemen in Tallahassee truly wish to execute those who have been long-ago sentenced, they will simply do so "administratively"; no court in this country would stop them.

    philipp plein outlet

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