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Sen. Feinstein calls for close scrutiny of Sessions' record

Sen. Diane Feinstein, right, urges fellow senators to carefully weigh Sen. Jeff Sessions' record. (Andrew Harnik, Associated Press)
Sen. Diane Feinstein, right, urges fellow senators to carefully weigh Sen. Jeff Sessions' record. (Andrew Harnik, Associated Press)

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), signaled on Tuesday that she and her Democratic colleagues are not going to go easy on fellow Sen. Jeff Sessions as he seeks to be the next attorney general.

She said her 20-year history with Sessions made her evaluation more difficult, but that Sessions had demonstrated a long voting record against efforts to prevent discrimination, reform immigration, crack down on hate crimes and end the use of torture.

"Today we are not being asked to evaluate him as a senator," said Feinstein, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, in her remarks kicking off Sessions' nomination hearing.

"We're being asked to evaluate him for the attorney general of the United States, the chief law enforcement officer of the largest and best democracy in the world."

Feinstein said it was critical for senators to weigh "whether this man can dispatch himself from the president and from his record," and how he will wield the power of the office. She urged fellow senators to delve deeply into Sessions' long record in public life.

"Will he use it fairly?" Feinstein asked. "Will he use it in a way that respects law and the constitution? Will he use it in a way that eases tensions among our communities, and our law enforcement officers? Will he be independent of the White House? Will he tell the president 'no' when necessary and faithfully enforce ethics laws and constitutional restrictions? So we will ask questions and we will press for answers."

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