LOS ANGELES – Please attribute the following statement on the resignation of U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions to Thomas A. Saenz, president and general counsel of MALDEF (Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund):
“In ordinary times, the forced resignation of a racially-biased Attorney General with little apparent knowledge or understanding of the law would be a welcome development. In 2018, however, the removal of Jeff Sessions raises more concerns than it assuages.
“Sessions will go down in history as one of the most unqualified Attorneys General in our history. He twisted legal interpretation to match his predetermined policy inclinations, generally influenced, if not wholly dictated, by his nativism, misogyny, heterosexism, and racial and religious bigotry. He got away with his unmoored legal opinions because the chief executive, influenced by his own similar biases, has been notoriously susceptible to the most ridiculous legal advice throughout his professional life. It is Donald Trump’s basic and solipsistic misunderstanding of First Amendment protections that lead regularly to his tantrums of attempted intimidation directed at the press. From the perspective of skill in the law and basic professional responsibility, Sessions should never have held the position of Attorney General, so his departure would seem a positive event.
“However, in this age, there is the quite real possibility that Donald Trump will seek to appoint someone even less skilled in the law and with even more demonstrated bias toward immigrants, women, those identifying as LGBTQ, and racial and religious minorities. Increasingly, the basic qualification of high-level appointees in this administration seems to be uncritical adherence to all of Trump’s mercurial and tyrannical impulses. This last concern leads to the even more monstrous prospect that Sessions’ removal is an attempt to continue to obstruct justice by a chief executive who has become unhinged by this week’s near-wholesale electoral repudiation of him and the anti-immigrant hatred he has placed at the center of his administration.
“The Congress – the Senate through its confirmation duty and the House through its investigative capacity – must ensure that Sessions’ successor is not someone who will obstruct the work of the special counsel or undermine any of the independent investigative responsibilities of the Department of Justice, either on his or her own or under White House direct or indirect influence. The public, including the large and growing Latino community, will attend carefully to what occurs here because the informed public understands the increased risk of a constitutional crisis in our nation.”