“I know it is exceptional for a senator to testify against another senator nominated for a Cabinet position”
When Cory Booker appeared before the U.S. Senate to testify against Jeff Sessions, President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee for Attorney General, it was a historic moment. Both men are currently serving in the Senate, creating an extremely rare moment where one member of the deliberative body was called as a witness to offer his personal testimony against the personal character and record of his colleague. After all, even his fellow Democrats who will almost all certainly vote against Sessions, the mood in the room was pretty chummy.
But that’s exactly what the 47-year-old New Jersey lawmaker did and his eloquent and passionate testimony have once again skyrocketed him to the upper tier of potential Democrats to take on Donald Trump in 2020.
“Senator Sessions has not demonstrated a commitment to a central requisite of the job — to aggressively pursue the congressional mandate of civil rights, equal rights, and justice for all of our citizens,” Booker told his colleagues. “In fact, at numerous times in his career, he has demonstrated a hostility towards these convictions and has worked to frustrate attempts to advance these ideals.”
In fact, Booker’s testimony was so unusual that may be the first time one sitting senator has testified against another sitting senator’s nomination for a White House cabinet post.
“If confirmed, Sen. Sessions will be required to pursue justice for women, but his record indicates that he won’t,” Booker continued. “He will be expected to defend the equal rights of gay and lesbian Americans, but his record indicates that he won’t. He will be expected to defend voting rights, but his record indicates that he won’t.”
The testimony was unusually powerful but Sessions is no typical nominee either, with a disappointing record on civil rights and having proudly egged on some of Trump’s most anti-immigrant rhetoric during the 2016 election.
Booker acknowledged as much, saying, “I know it is exceptional for a senator to testify against another senator nominated for a Cabinet position. But I believe, like perhaps all of my colleagues in the Senate, that in the choice between standing with Senate norms or standing up for what my conscience tells me is best for our country, I will always choose conscience and country.”