Tag: Attorney General

Republicans and Democrats Find Common Ground: Sessions Resigns

Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III has resigned as attorney general effective immediately after being asked to do so by President Trump, ABC News has reported.

“At your request, I am submitting my resignation,” Sessions wrote in an undated letter to the president.

“Since the day I was honored to be sworn in as Attorney General of the United States, I came to work at the Department of Jusitce every day determined to do my duty and serve my country,” Sessions wrote. “I have done so to the best of my ability, working to support the fundamental legal processes that are the foundation of justice.”

Trump tweeted that Sessions’ chief of staff, Matthew G. Whitaker, will serve as acting attorney general.

On Twitter, Trump thanked Sessions for his service and announced that Sessions’ chief of staff, Matthew G. Whitaker, will serve as acting attorney general and that a permanent replacement will take place at a later date.

Previously, Trump would not say whether Sessions — who he has repeatedly criticized throughout his tenure — would be safe in his job after the midterm elections.

“I just would love to have him do a great job,” Trump told Bloomberg News on Aug. 30.

“I’d love to have him look at the other side,” Trump added, underscoring his demand for Sessions to reopen the investigation into Hillary Clinton and the origins of the Russia investigation.

Earlier in August, in an interview with Fox News, Trump lashed out at Sessions, saying he failed to take control of the Department of Justice.

In his most forceful public rebuke to date, Sessions hit back shortly after, saying he “will not be improperly influenced by political considerations.”

Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, a close Trump confidante, predicted Sessions would be out of his job in the near future, but insisted Trump should wait until after November’s midterm elections.

“The president’s entitled to an attorney general he has faith in, somebody that’s qualified for the job, and I think there will come a time, sooner rather than later, where it will be time to have a new face and a fresh voice at the Department of Justice,” Graham said at the time. “Clearly, Attorney General Sessions doesn’t have the confidence of the president.”

Tensions developed between Trump and Sessions in March 2017, when Sessions recused himself from the Russia investigation and Deputy Attorney Rod Rosenstein took over.

Rosenstein soon appointed Special Counsel Robert Mueller to oversee the Russia probe, angering the president.

Trump repeatedly called on Sessions to end the probe on Twitter and TV interviews.

“…This is a terrible situation and Attorney General Jeff Sessions should stop this Rigged Witch Hunt right now, before it continues to stain our country any further. Bob Mueller is totally conflicted, and his 17 Angry Democrats that are doing his dirty work are a disgrace to USA!” Trump tweeted on August 1st.

Sessions was the first sitting U.S. senator to endorse then-candidate Trump.

Sessions parlayed that support to become attorney general, a role he held at the state level in Alabama.

The president’s priorities and Sessions’ mirrored each other. Both tough on immigration, the opioid crisis, and crime, both men have a pro-law enforcement perspective.

Aside from the president lashing out at him, Sessions’ tenure as attorney general has largely been focused on carrying out the policies of the administration and most notably, the zero-tolerance immigration policy which lead to the separation of families on the U.S.-Mexico border.

When Attorney General Sessions announced the policy in May, he warned those coming to the country illegally that the administration would prosecute them.

“I have put in place a ‘zero tolerance’ policy for illegal entry on our Southwest border. If you cross this border unlawfully, then we will prosecute you. It’s that simple. If you smuggle illegal aliens across our border, then we will prosecute you. If you are smuggling a child, then we will prosecute you and that child will be separated from you as required by law,” he said at an event in San Diego.

The policy was criticized by Democrats and Republicans alike.

Sessions also sent more judges and prosecutors to the southern border to help with processing illegal border crossers.

The attorney general also focused on pro-law enforcement priorities and often echoed the president in touting law enforcement’s objectives.

“Let me say this loud and clear: as long as I am the Attorney General of the United States, the Department of Justice will have the back of all honest and honorable law enforcement officers,” Sessions said at the 25th Annual Top Cops Awards in May.

Sessions was also a regular steward for rigorous opioid prosecution. Just recently, in Cleveland, Sessions announced four opioid cases, each targeting the selling and distribution of opioids, something that he stressed was important to the president.

It has been commented upon by many that Sessions’ actions as attorney general in regards to treatment of federal sentence reform legislation and his draconian approach to treatment of immigrants already within America’s borders may have cost the Republican party control of the House in yesterday’s elections.

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Immigration Judges Protest Attorney General Sessions’ Encroachment On Their Prerogatives

Federal immigration judges filed a formal grievance Wednesday against Atty. General Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III, and the Department of Justice, saying they want to stop federal law enforcement officials from interfering with their autonomy.

The complaint from the National Assn. of Immigration Judges comes after Sessions removed Judge Steven Morley from a high-profile immigration case in July and replaced him with another judge who ordered the immigrant at the center of the proceedings swiftly deported.

The Justice Department has since removed more than 80 cases from Morley, who sits in Philadelphia, through other administrative reassignments or appeal procedures, according to their complaint.

“He is very, very disturbed over this,” Ashley Tabaddor, president of the association, said of Morley, calling the case reassignments the latest example of the Trump administration undermining the independence of immigration judges to advance its political priorities.

“It is a further example of what we have seen as a step-by-step encroachment of a judge’s ability to handle cases,” Tabaddor said.

The judge’s union – which represents 350 federal immigration judges – wants the Justice Department to return the cases to Morley and publicly recognize that taking them away was improper.

It also wants to stop the department from using its authority to reassign cases to get an outcome more favorable to the administration.

The case that first sparked attention was that of  Reynaldo Castro-Tum, a Guatemalan teenager who crossed the border illegally when he was 17 and had been fighting deportation for years.

Tabaddor said immigration courts, which are run by the Justice Department, have been used for political messaging, consistent with law enforcement priorities, under past administrations.

But “all of these issues have become more pronounced” with the administration’s crackdown on illegal immigration, she said.

AG Sessions Restricts Administrative Closure Of Immigration Proceedings

 On Thursday, May 17, 2018, Attorney General Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III issued a 26-page opinion and order in Matter of Castro-Tum, Respondent, 27 I&N Dec. 271 (A.G. May 17, 2018), restricting immigration judges from administratively closing cases before they issue decisions.  Sessions’ new order says “the current practice of administrative closure lacks a valid legal foundation”:

I hold that immigration judges and the Board do not have the general authority to suspend indefinitely immigration proceedings by administrative closure.  Accordingly, immigration judges and the Board may only administratively close a case where a previous regulation or a previous judicially approved settlement expressly authorizes such an action.

Where a case has been administratively closed without such authority, the immigration judge or the Board, as appropriate, shall recalendar the case on the motion of either party.

As reported by the New York Times here, the order “is unlikely to reopen all the cases” that are currently administratively closed, but it “injects fresh uncertainty in the lives of undocumented immigrants living in the United States.”

The Sentinel is strongly opposed to illegal immigration into our great nation.  That opposition does not, however, limit concern for unnecessary restrictions being placed on our Administrative Law Judges, who work daily in the trenches, carefully reviewing each case before making individualized decisions regarding the particular merits of each case.

AG Sessions’ action takes authority away from the experienced men and women in our ALJ corp and places it in an absolutionism of regulation without the standards of public notice, review and consideration and review that Federal Regulations are required by law to have.

Actions such as this, promulgation of regulation by fiat, lead to despotism, which the Sentinel, though a Republican owned publication, stands firmly against, administratively mandated “zero tolerance policies” which strip officials of their congressionally granted discretion offend the American citizen’s duly constituted and ratified liberty based governmental model and should not br allowed to stand.

AG Sessions Announces Zero-Tolerance For Illegal Entry & New Charging Policies

On April 6, 2018, Attorney General Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III notified all U.S. Attorney’s Offices along the Southwest Border of a new “zero-tolerance policy” for offenses under 8 U.S.C. § 1325(a)(prohibiting both attempted illegal entry and illegal entry in the United States by an alien).  “The situation at our Southwest Border is unacceptable. Congress has failed to pass effective legislation that serves the national interest—that closes dangerous loopholes and fully funds a wall along our southern border. As a result, a crisis has erupted at our Southwest Border that necessitates an escalated effort to prosecute those who choose to illegally cross our border,” said Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

The new policy comes as the Department of Homeland Security reported a 203 percent increase illegal border crossings from March 2017 to March 2018, and a 37 percent increase from February 2018 to March 2018. SeeDHS Southwest Border Migration FY2018.

The recent increase follows a steep drop in illegal border crossings after President Trump’s inauguration, which were historically low through most of his first summer in office.

On April 11, in a follow-up to his zero-tolerance policy, the Attorney General sent a memorandum for all federal prosecutors titled Renewed Commitment to Criminal Immigration Enforcement, detailing the new charging-practice policies in immigration cases.

(The American Sentinel Newsletter notes that while the problem of illegal entry into our nation must be and remain a priority for the Trump Administration, zero-tolerance policies which strip local authorities of their discretion fly in the face of the very reasoning underlying the creation of local United States Attorneys – the need for charging decisions to reflect the will of the people in the district such decisions are being made – and are, in the opinion of the Sentinel, dangerously federalistic.)

– The American Sentinel Newsletter