tv Happening Now FOX News January 10, 2017 10:00am-11:01am PST
coming. got to get you excited. >> i but your socks on instagram, by the way. >> thank you. >> that is going to do it for us, we will see you tomorrow at noon eastern with more speed 29, but now, "happening now." space and we start with a fox news alert, confirmation hearing for the president-elect eternal general -- attorney general nominee expected to wrap up for lunch. >> jenna: everyone gets a lunch, next round will be conjuring after that. covering the news "happening now." >> i think they will all pass, they are at the highest level. >> jenna: as the senate prepares for the briefing on a rushing hacking, the democrats prepare for a fight, and the pick for secretary of state. >> the american people did not sent us to washington just to lay down and play dead. >> jenna: plus, u.s. marines hike 8 heading back to a taliban
stronghold in afghanistan, for the first time since the u.s. ended combat missions. what is drawing our marines back into the fight. and the fiance of a man killed and an airport attack is suing twitter. why he said it is a powerful weapon for terrorism. it is all "happening now." ♪ >> jenna: we began with an action-packed day on capitol hill, welcome to the second hour of "happening now," i am jenna lee. >> jon: i am jon scott. another senate hearing is just moments away now. this one with top intel leaders looking into russian hacking as confirmation hearings kick off involving attorney general nominee alabama senator jeff sessions testifying in front of his colleagues at the judiciary committee. addressing head on questions past views on race, let's
listen. >> zero-tolerance approach that has been so successful in arizona, a portion of arizona. >> thank you. i've enjoyed working with you. i know the integrity with which you bring your views on the immigration system. like you, i believe that streamline was very effective. i was very surprised it has been undermined and significantly. the reports i got initially some years ago, maybe a decade or more ago was that it was dramatically effective. so i would absolutely review that, in , and my i would be, at least at this stage, i think it should be restored and even refined and made sure it is lawful and effective, but i think it has great positive potential to improve legality at the border. >> thank you. it's been effective in yuma, and
there has been concern from the sheriffs office, sheriff wilmott and others, concerned that we are seeing and increase in border crossing simile because the cartels understand very well where there is a zero-tolerance policy and where there is not. word spreads, and we can quickly get to a situation where we have a problem in the yuma sector like we do in the tucson sector. is there any reason why we have not expanded this program to the tucson sector if it has been successful elsewhere? >> i do not know of what reason that might be. it seems to me that we should examine the successes and see if they can be replicated throughout the border. >> thank you. i look forward to working with you on that. >> i appreciate the opportunity to work with you on that because i have long felt the right direction for us to go. >> thank you. when you have a successful program, it is difficult to see it described in the progress that has been made in certain
parts of the border done away with. let me get to another subject here, victims rights. this is an area of the law you have shown particular interest in over your time as senator. i have with me letters of support for your nomination from various victims groups and advocates, victims of crime and leniency, victims inference united op-ed by professor paul and steve, all in support of your nomination. i ask that these documents be placed as part of the record. as attorney general, what steps will you take to make sure victims rights are protected? >> we cannot forget victims rights. we have victims witness legislation that creates in the united states attorney's office a victims witness coordinator, in the job of that person is to make sure that concerns of the victims are heard. if they have to come to court, they help them get there to make
sure that they do not feel threatened and are protected. that is a direct responsibility of the department of justice and the criminal justice system as directed by congress, so i really think that is one step. that is a fundamental mechanism i think senator was a strong advocate of, and it really helped improve on the treatment of victims in federal criminal cases. there is no doubt about it. >> thank you. you made a reference to senator kyle, my predecessor in this office who did so much work in this area, partnering with you, so thank you for that answer. >> i am honored that he was giving of his time to assist me in the effort, honored very greatly. >> thank you. let's talk about the prison rape elimination act that was mentioned previously by senator collins were you not only led the deferment of prosecutors and law enforcement
officers, but you will lead not only the department of law enforcement and prosecutor officials, but the bureau of prisons. you will be responsible for 190,000 federal inmates currently in custody. this is an often overlooked part of the attorney general's role, but it is an important part of the position you are being nominated for. i believe one of the highlights in your record in the senate is your leadership in passing their present rape elevation act of 2003, which passed both chambers without objections and was signed into law by george w. bush. this was a bipartisan bill. you worked across the aisle with the late senator kennedy as well as with republican representative frank wolf, democrat representative bobby scott of the house, and i have letters of support from anti-present rape activates that i will also like to put in as part of the record without objection if i could. >> thank you.
with the law approaching its 50th anniversary, 11 states have certified they are in compliance with the national standard and another 41 states and territories have provided assurances they are working toward compliance. only four states and territories have chosen not to participate. is prea meeting the expectations you had when he introduced the bill in 2003? >> i don't think there is any doubt it has improved the situation. as to whether it has reached full potential, i'm not able to tell you with certainty but it certainly made a positive difference. it was a special time for me, senator kennedy was a strong critic of meat in 1986. he said as we were working on it, i've wanted to work with you on legislation like this. i think it was sort of a reconciliation moment. we also worked on another major piece of legislation for several years, it would have been rather historic, but it was a private
savings account for lower wage workers in america that, i guess, the financial crisis or something's happened that ended that prospect, but i believe that it is important for american people to know that when an individual is sent to prison, they are not subjected to cruel and inhuman punishment under the constitution, at a minimum. the idea that was so widely spread that there is routine sexual abuse and assault in prisons and other kinds of unacceptable activity was widespread in our media and widespread among the american people. one of our goals was to establish just how big it was, to require reporting, into create circumstances that helped ensure that a person who should be prosecuted for violence in the prison actually did get
prosecuted was a real step forward. we do not need to subject prisoners to do any more punishment than the law requires. >> thank you. the remaining seconds i have, let me say there is another area that we have worked on and hopefully we can continue to work on, and that is the area of the doj grant. as you know, a proximally $17 billion in grants have been given over the years, oig reports that there is duplication and waste, sometimes a fraud and abuse peer we have continued to commit to work to root out this kind of duplicative action there. >> i know you had a history of being a staunch defender of the treasury against those who abuse it. and i believe the same way. if the taxpayers money, every dollar that is extracted from american citizens, it goes into
the government, needs to get the productive value activity, and any of it that is delivered for political and insufficient reasons is a cause of great concern. i will make it a priority of mine to make sure that the dollars we have are actually getting to the purposes they are supposed to go for. it is one thing to say, i did a great thing, i got more money for this purpose, but did it really efficiently and effectively go there? did it really make a positive difference? i think the department of justice can utilize those grant programs to help valuable activities and it needs to guard against improper activities. >> thank you, senator sessions. >> we will break for about 30 minutes. we will reconvene at 1:40, senator kunz will be next, he has indicated he will be here on time. you are in recess for now.
>> jon: so the first of the hearings for president-elect donald trump's cabinet nominees underway, jeff sessions, alabama senator and the first senator to endorse donald trump as a political candidate is in front of the committee on which he used to sit, the senate judiciary committee. you heard him answering questions. they will be back in about half an hour and we will continue to follow them as the news warrants. in the meantime, mike emanuel has been following the confirmation hearing since it began and has an update for us. mike? >> good afternoon. there have been a number of disruptions in this hearing, sometimes emotional over controversial issues such as illegal immigration, guantanamo bay and senator jeff sessions seeks confirmation to a very high-profile position in the new trump administration. senator sessions has been asked a wide range of questions from his senate colleagues and seems to be the nation's next attorney
general. on a campaign issue come hillary clinton's emails in the clinton foundation, sessions said if confirmed, he would recuse himself from any investigation into those matters. sessions judiciary committee which he serves on that he would no longer legislate if confirmed, he would enforce the law. >> i come before you today as a colleague who has worked with you for years and some of you 20 years. you know who i am. you know what i believe in. you know that i am a man of my word and can be trusted to do what i say i will do. you know that i revere the constitution, that i am committed to the rule of law. >> new jersey senator cory booker, a democrat is scheduled to testify against sessions in an unprecedented move. he acknowledged it was a break in senate tradition. another key democrat challenged sessions on an issue in the 2016 campaign, the discussion of a
muslim man. >> do you agree with the president-elect that the united states can or should deny entry to members of a protected religious class? >> i believe the president-elect himself from that statement made clear that he believes the focus should be on individuals coming from countries that have history of terrorism. >> on another high-profile and controversial issue, sessions told lawmakers that he views enhanced interrogation such as waterboarding as being absolutely illegal. expect plenty more questions this afternoon. >> jon: it is going to get interesting. thank you. >> jenna: not the only big event happening on capitol hill, we will have another hearing underway just moments from now. on the very issue that has been a big topic over the last several weeks, and that is russia's involvement in our elective process and a cyber
hacking. it is going to be the first time we hear from fbi director james comey, but all of the heads of all of the major intelligence agencies are there. you are seeing a life look at capitol hill right now as we watch this get underway. we will have more on the breaking news out of this hearing after a quick break. um. something wrong? so when it comes to pain relievers, why put up with just part of a day? you want the whole thing? yes, yes! live whole. not part. aleve. 4 out of 5 people who have a stroke, their first symptom... is a stroke. 80 percent of all strokes and heart disease? preventable. and 149 dollars is all it takes to get screened and help take control of your health. we're life line screening... and if you're over 50... call this number, to schedule an appointment... for five painless screenings that go beyond regular check-ups. we use ultrasound technology to literally look inside your arteries...
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this hearing is the first of a series by the senate intelligence committee that is investigating russian activities and intentions in cyberspace. at least two congressional committees have now requested the underlying raw data from the reports to independently review the findings. today, we are expecting questions about the dnc server and why they blocked fbi access for their forensic review. instead, the fbi relied on the findings of an outside security firm which is unusual given the high profile of the case and the russian targeting. what we still do not know from the public report is the issue of timing and when the russian president vladimir putin authorized the campaign to influence and undermine the u.s. election. investigators saw an uptick in the hacking by russia in 2014, and in 2015, the hacking moved from u.s. government networks to political targets. long before either party had selected a nominee. and a short time ago, we heard from democrats who sit on the house intelligence committee.
>> what the president did was a very good first step, but i support the efforts of senators mccain and graham and others, to go beyond that and establish a broader deterrent. even beyond that, i think we need to look at every vector of this russian attack. >> we also heard at the news conference from the democrats that they want the administration to encourage the intelligence community to declassify the sources from their findings because if you read that public report, what you see is there really is not any backup data, and they feel this would make an even more convincing case to the public. >> jenna: thank you. >> you are welcome. >> jon: tomorrow the senate foreign relations committee takes up the nomination of rex tillerson to be secretary of state, and there could be a showdown between senators and the former exxonmobil ceo. lawmakers from both parties have questions about his ties to vladimir putin and his business dealings in russia. we're joined now by daniel
honaker, deputy editorial page editor for "the wall street journal" and in that function, you have met rex tillerson on a number of occasions. >> yes, indeed. rex tillerson has been into cs at the editorial page, and he came across as very impressive, capable business executive dealing at the highest level of negotiation all over the world weather in russia or elsewhere. i think he is qualified to be secretary of state. this is one of the most important appointments donald trump has made and i think the confirmation hearing is going to break into two parts, it's going to be about rex tillerson as the ceo of exxonmobil, in the second part is going to be donald trump's policy toward vladimir putin and russia. >> jon: we know that the republicans have enough votes in the senate to confirm him if they want, but the question is will he hold all of therepublic? there are some who have expressed doubts. >> that is the big question.
bear in mind since harry reid blew up the filibuster, they only need a simple majority to confirm him. there are three republican potential dissenters from the rex tillerson nomination, john mccain, lindsey graham and marco rubio. it has nothing to do or little to do with rex tillerson himself, he is great. the question is, given all of the nice things and positive things that donald trump said the past couple months about vladimir putin, they are going to want to ask rex tillerson, mr. tillerson, you've been talking to president-elect trump, can you give us some idea of whether he is going to enter into a grand negotiation toward a grand bargain with vladimir putin, and what might be the terms of that negotiation? since putin is regarded as an adversary of the united states. i don't think they will oppose his confirmation, but they are going to put down a marker on this issue. >> jon: that will obviously be one of the issues that comes up. we are going to be talking more with daniel henninger about this
animation, rex tillerson to be secretary of state, in just a moment. januvia (sitagliptin) is a once-daily pill that, along with diet and exercise, helps lower blood sugar. januvia works when your blood sugar is high and works less when your blood sugar is low, because it works by enhancing your body's own ability to lower blood sugar. plus januvia, by itself, is not likely to cause weight gain or low blood sugar (hypoglycemia). januvia should not be used in patients with type 1 diabetes or diabetic ketoacidosis. tell your doctor if you have a history of pancreatitis. serious side effects can happen, including pancreatitis which may be severe and lead to death. stop taking januvia and call your doctor right away if you have severe pain in your stomach area which may be pancreatitis. tell your doctor right away and stop taking januvia if you have an allergic reaction that causes swelling of the face, lips, tongue, or throat, or affects your breathing or causes rash or hives. kidney problems sometimes requiring dialysis have been reported. some people may develop severe joint pain.
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>> jon: once again, the consideration of rex tillerson to be secretary of state, joined once again by daniel henninger, deputy editorial page editor for "the wall street journal." interesting that two of the finalists to be secretary of state i was the art tillerson but also mitt romney, he famously said in that debate for years ago that russia was our number one geopolitical flow, and instead donald trump chooses tillerson, a guy who has done deals with the russians and basically vladimir putin. >> it is as if we have to take the debate line on donald trump's views toward russia and they were obvious he much more positive than mitt romney's work or more of the foreign policy establishment. donald trump himself has elevated this as an issue, that
is to say what will his policy be about my merry putin and russia other than these statements he is made about putin himself, he has not said much other than say we need to have a relationship with russia. and nominating rex tillerson, he is putting into this job a person who is negotiating personally with russia at the highest level and with vladimir putin, understands the nuances, if we can call them that, from russia's internal politics, so i think he is in a position to be the go-between between donald trump and vladimir putin and what can be a very delicate and sensitive and controversial situation. >> jon: bubbling right from the start from these sanctions the obama administration has put on russia as the result of hacking, that is something for the new secretary of state. >> they were proposed by senators john mccain and lindsey graham who will be asking rex tillerson exactly about that pair there will be some opposition in the republican party.
>> jon: it will be interesting to watch, thank you. >> jenna: right now, we are awaiting another confirmation hearing in the senate, john kelly facing lawmakers this afternoon as they consider his nomination to be homeland security secretary. he is a four-star retired marine general. he is also the gold star father of marine first lieutenant robert kelly who was killed while serving in afghanistan in 2010. this is a photo of general kelly with his two sons. there is, of course, renewed focus on afghanistan today. in the capital of cabell, two bombings killed at least 30 people, wounding many more with the taliban claiming responsibility. in another province, at least seven died in a suicide bombing, now the headline that may have been buried as we have taken in so many breaking news items over the last several days. 300 american marines getting ready to head back to help fight the surging taliban. i am sure my joined by ben collins, veteran of the special armed forces, free tours of duty
in afghanistan p when he saw the headline, what did you think? >> i tell you, it broke my heart. the room marines left in 2014 which is when we turned over camp leatherneck over to the afghanistan nation. in the southern region, they lost 378 men and women during their battle against the taliban, and about a year ago, i think the taliban controlled about 20% of the province, and today they control about 85% of the province, so it is heart breaking to see the loss of 378 get lost again, and we have to resent more marines into the area. >> jenna: interesting he would talk about territory and territory lost, the taliban right now controls more territory in afghanistan than at any point since 2001. why did that happen, and what do we do about it, what is the threat to us? >> the reality is during the
afghan surge, we had over 100,000 soldiers that were there, and we were just really starting to make gains. we have about 9800 soldiers in afghanistan, that is effectively once we ended combat operations, even though we lost a green parade two months ago or so, they are there to train the police. territory is key here, especially the helmand province where they are going back in because that is the heart of the poppy growth and opium trade that fuels and finances the insurgency and makes about $4 billion a year, so it is a very key note of control that the taliban always want to maintain. again, now they have 85% of that province back, so they have access to those funds to continue the insurgency. >> jenna: i see what you're saying, sending 300 marines to this particular area because of the money funding territory terrorism in afghanistan. we are going to hear from the president tonight, he will make a speech about his closing
argument, closing statement about his time as president. you mentioned that combat operations are officially over in afghanistan, that is on the heat has talked about a lot. let's move forward. what does the next president, president-elect trump encounter with having to inherit what is happening in afghanistan, what decisions will he have to make? >> i think the first decision they have to make is what is going to be -- what are our national interest in afghanistan, how far are we willing to go? we have been 15 years in this war, we've lost about 2500 soldiers and spent about a trillion dollars, so what is next, what do we have to do? the fact is we have always had a very unrealistic political strategy in afghanistan that was nested within a very inconsistent military strategy. once we figure out what are the realistic expectations for afghanistan, because they have no baseline economy, there is no infrastructure, no transportation, no real commerce. we are there economic stability.
so what can we realistically accomplish from it political aspects then what can we accomplish from a military perspective? and i think the people he has surrounded himself with are just the right people to have the answer. >> jenna: a lot of folks with experience overseas. and your expertise as well, thank you very much. >> jon: attorney general nominee jeff sessions facing hours of questioning in today's confirmation hearing. they are root expected to resume in about 15 minutes. coming up, one of the senators long-term aids and why he says the man he worked for has been unfairly mischaracterized.
>> jenna: senator jeff sessions taking questions all morning at his confirmation hearing for attorney general. joining us now is william smith, a long-term assistant to the senator from alabama who has been listening in on the hearings and joins us now. thank you for joining the program. >> thank you for having me. >> jenna: talk a little bit about how you met senator sessions and how you came to work with him. >> i first met him on the campaign trail, i believe it was in 1995, he was running for the senate. i was working for a guy named harold stevens running for the alabama supreme court, so we made a connection then in 1995. several years later, i had moved to california as a research librarian, and the senator had an opening on this task and invited me to come take it so i came to work for him in 2001, worked for him for about five
years before i got married and moved to practice law then came back to work for him again. >> jenna: you have worked with him in several different iterations. why do you believe that he is a good choice for america as the top law-enforcement official of the land? >> senator sessions as we have seen in the hearings so far today leaves and equal justice under the law. he is a very smart guy. not only a smart guy but a smart lawyer. because of his background as a united states attorney, before his background as the state attorney general and as a senator, being an outstanding lawyer, individual, loving people, i think he will do a fair job over there of equal justice under the law. >> jenna: i'm curious on your thoughts about his record because there are those that try to take them on a different turn. in a recent "washington post" editorial for example, some justice department attorneys say he is essentially
rubber-stamping some civil rights cases saying that he was part of them when he really was not. talk to us a little bit about that, william. what in his record specifically do you point to you when you hear critics say, this guy is not going to be for equal rights? >> i think if you look look ats overall record, it you look at those cases. when the united states attorney is signing off on cases, you know that he is reviewing this case is, making sure the facts are accurate, making sure the lawyers have done their background work, so he was heavily involved in those cases. if you want to go beyond his time at the u.s. attorney's office, you can look back where he oversaw the prosecution of two coupe clan members to make sure they were either sentenced to the death penalty or life in prison. you can't look at his involvement here even in the congress working with senator cory booker on the rosa parks gold-medal congressional gold medal of honor. you can look at his involvement in working on vacation or african-americans are not treated inappropriately with
cracked products of cocaine come look at how he desegregated schools in alabama, look at a lot of his record and see senator sessions has a great record on civil rights. great 8 record on treating people fairly, outstanding man. >> jenna: the picture you are painting is so different than the critics. i want to play little of what we heard yesterday as a group came together to protest senator sessions and his potential new role, here is a snippet of what they said yesterday. >> sessions' amoral record shows consistent report for ideological extremism, racist and classist policies and the writing of discrimination into law. some of his advisors say he just has a different political ideology. >> jenna: what you say to that? >> i say what is immoral as attacking a man you don't know, a man you have not spent any time with. these groups are out there, designed to try to raise money. they've been defeated in the election process paid the american people have rejected their views, so the only thing they have left to play is the
race card. senator sessions is an outstanding man. i know him well and have spent a lot of time with them. senator sessions well, even his parents were prosecuted by senator sessions will say he will give a fair shake, honorable guy that will deliver equal justice under the law. >> jenna: i was watching, and you said you wanted to come on voluntarily because you worked with senator sessions and i was watching an exchange you had on a rival network where there were some pretty personal attacks against you by a woman that works with the congressional black caucus peered because of a commercial break, you were not allowed to respond in as a journalist, that bothered me. i'm going to play a little bit from the interview then you will have your chance to respond. >> you worked with jeff sessions fighting for civil rights. >> you know where i was? not here and still not here apparently because that is not his record. what i will tell you -- >> you don't know his record. you have a bunch of rhetoric.
>> i don't have a lot of rhetoric. >> get some facts. >> just because you're the one black guy he hired on a committee does not make you a civil rights leader, william. >> jenna: again, they had to go to commercial, what do you say to that, william? >> i will let my background speak for itself. i'm not here to disparage anyone. i think people will make personal attacks. i wear those personal attacks with a badge of honor. when people are attacking me for being honest. you can attack me for being honest, i will wear that as a badge of honor and support the people i believe in. i know senator sessions is a good and honest guy who will do the right thing and the department of justice, and i think anyone who has met or spent time with him should support him. >> jenna: nice to have you on that program, look to have you back. do you ever wish you continued at the research library? i'm just curious. [laughs] >> academia did offer a more relaxing lifestyle than this one. >> jenna: right, and it is a choice bit i will remind our
viewers, it is a choice to come out in public to let your opinion be known, and we appreciate that. we look forward to having you back. thank you so much. >> thank you for having me. >> jon: then there is the weather in california which is usually nice. any minute now, the nomination for jeff sessions hearing will resume and we will take you back to that. plus, one thing the president likely will touch on tonight is obamacare. why republicans say undoing that law is a top priority of theirs, there is a growing divide in the g.o.p. about how and when to do it.
>> republicans say they are ready to hit the ground running on obamacare. they have vowed to repeal and replace the healthcare law, but now there is an emerging rift inside the g.o.p. on exactly how to accomplish that. let's talk about it with liz smith, former deputy campaign manager for martin o'malley, scott jennings is a former special assistant to president george w. bush and the former ohio state director for mitt romney's presidential campaign. thank you both for being here. scott, i want to start with you because republicans have talked about voting to repeal obamacare without having a replacement ready to go. is that a wise decision? >> this is going to be a multistep process. they have to get the budget
bodes going to set up the process to repeal obamacare. i think what is important to understand here is there can be a stable period. it could be a long period so nobody who currently has health insurance loses it immediately. they are going to have to do a series of complicated things to repeal it then replace it with a series of policies that republicans have been pushing for many years, so i think it is a little bit of a false choice to say that we have to do it all in one day or not do it at all. i think the process can get started, then they can get going through the machinations of installing the policy that will do what obamacare promised to begin with, increase access and lower prices. it has done neither, not affording universal access and prices as we know have skyrocketed, so those are things we focus on fixing in the republican policies will do that eventually. >> jon: we have heard people like senate minority leader chuck schumer saying the republicans have no plan to replace, but i am not sure how he would know, he has not been inside those republican meetings to talk about replacement.
>> look, if the republicans have a plan, prove it. show it to us. they have had six years to come up with a replacement to coalesce around any sort of replacement, and they have not. i have to sit back and laugh a little bit at the democrats because for years, republicans have tried to use this as a political cudgel against democrats, and now, they are getting a taste of their own medicine. it is one thing to cast dozens and dozens of protest votes for repeal that you know the president won't sign, it is another to take away healthcare from 20 million people, including people who vote, kids, seniors, women, people dealing with substance abuse, and that is what republicans are facing now, and that is why you see republican senators dropping like flies. seven now have come out against this immediately repealing the law, and i think the most important people to listen to our governors because they are the ones and lamenting the law on the ground and seeing its
effects firsthand. governors like john kasich in ohio and rick snyder and michigan both republicans are saying that this law has been a success and that congress needs to tread lightly if they are going to try to repeal this. >> jon: it is also true the increased medicare and medicaid enrollments are bleached proving to be a financial problem for many states. >> first of all, it is true and ridiculous, and a republican is out there talking about taking healthcare away from vulnerable populations. i agree with liz, we should listen to governors, governors like matt bevin in kentucky as you pointed out, you say that state government cannot have this huge financial build because of that medicaid expansion. remember, obamacare has largely been an experiment in putting people on a government run health plan called medicaid. it did very little to increase private coverage, in the people that were forced into these exchanges are now seeing massive premium hikes because they would did not want to be in it for the first place, now they have to pay for it. at the end of the day, state
governments are vulnerable, working families are vulnerable, and it is all because of the cost. we have to decrease barriers to access, increase competition, reduced prices. if we do not do that, the whole thing is going to collapse. that is why the republicans have to get started on repeal. this thing is on a death spiral right now, and it is going to cost people if we do not get the repeal process going. >> jon: list, paraphrasing your earlier point, democrats are pointing fingers at republicans to say, it is not that easy, and you are finding it. it is also true that democrats passed this thing without a single republican vote. so why should republicans be embracing democrats in their hopes or in their plans to change this? >> first of all, democrats, as you pointed out, democrats do, to some extent, own obamacare. they know better than anyone else how difficult it was to
build up the affordable care act. i am not saying they should show it to democrats, i'm saying they should show it to the american public because it is not just democrats who are relying on obamacare, it's a heck of a lot of republicans and tropical voters, and in the home state of kentucky, there are 6,000 people who have gotten healthcare coverage under obamacare, and look, let me address a couple falsehoods here. >> jon: very quickly, we are getting back to the hearing. >> the cost of healthcare has grown at the slowest rate in 50 years, and 20 million people have coverage because of this law, and we should not throw out the baby with the bathwater. >> jon: as we have been speaking, "the new york times" is reporting that president-elect trump said he would not accept a delay of more than a few weeks for obamacare replacement, that again according to "the new york times." liz smith and scott jennings, thank you both. >> thank you. >> jon: we are getting ready
to resume the hearings now for jeff sessions, the nominee to be attorney general. let's listen in. >> senator sessions, congratulations to you and your whole family on your nomination. the position of attorney general of the united states is one of the most important positions on which this committee will ever hold hearings. the next attorney general of the united states will assume leadership of the justice department on the heels of an election in which there were many issues brought about in the course of the campaign. some of which have been asked about previously paired calls for a muslim ban or patrols, issues of a russian cyber attack affecting our election, and because of deportation or "lock her up" at campaign rallies peered given the divisiveness of this election, i think it is critical of the next attorney general beat well-suited for this time and as such, i think a successful nominee has to be able to persuade the committee
he will act fairly and impartially to administer justice and advance justice for all americans. senator sessions, we have served on the committee together for six years. we have worked well together on a few issues, state and local law enforcement issues, on the reauthorization of the victims of child abuse act and on the restoration of funding for federal public defenders. i appreciate that partnership. but there have also been many issues on which we disagreed. she is from immigration to civil liberties to civil rights to criminal justice to voting rights and torture. i am concerned about your views on a number of these issues as we discussed when we met last week. so i am grateful to the chairman and to you that we are going to have a full and fair hearing on all of these issues today. let me start with some questions about your time when you were alabama attorney general and how you understood some direction you received from the u.s.
department of justice. at that point, alabama was the only state in the country that handcuffed prisoners to hitching posts, and we talked about this will be met before. i said i would ask you about this in this hearing. a hitching post was used as a punishment for prisoners perceived as being unwilling to work or participate in the daily lives of the prison, whether serving on a chain gang or participating in work, and they would be cuffed by both wrists to a pole at chest height, sometimes for seven, eight, or nine hours, protected from sun, heat, or rain or without access in some cases to water or even a bathroom. as attorney general, you received letters from the u.s. department of justice telling you that alabama's use of the hitching post in both men and women's prisons was unconstitutional and unjustified. but as i understand it, the use of the hitching post continued throughout your term and you did not act to stop it. during this same period in the
state of alabama, the state was sued not just about hitching posts, but also about chain gangs, prison policies and alabama said a man could be put on a chain gang if he failed to shave or keep his bed clean, if he disrespected a member of the staff you would end up doing hard labor, breaking rocks while being chained together in groups of five, shackled with 8 feet of chain between them. these practices, the case that was demonstrated were disproportionately affecting african-americans. in later litigation, the practice of using the hitching post was called by an alabama judge "the most painful and torturous punishment in alabama," short of electrocution. in 2002, the united states supreme court said using the hitching post was clearly unconstitutional when it was used in alabama. can you please, senator, tell me your view today of the use of the hitching post and chain gang and alabama corrections and what
your view is of what actions you would take today if these practices were restored? >> thank you very much, senator. that was an issue that the governor who campaign and promised that prisoners should work and he vowed to make that happen. i believe the litigation occurred after my time adds attorney general according to my records, but we could be wrong, i will supplement the records for you. certainly the decision by the supreme court and federal courts were after i left office, i believe. working of prisoners is an issue we have dealt with in the congress of the united states and by state legislatures. i think good employment of a prisoner is a healthy thing. i do not favor personally this kind of work, i think it should be more productive work, kind of
helping the individual develop some discipline they can use when they go on to private life after they leave prison. after the supreme court ruling, i think it is crystal clear what the law is. that was disapproved and disallowed and found to be unconstitutional, and i would absolutely follow that as attorney general. >> in your view, did it take a ruling by the supreme court to clarify that this constituted torture, that it was not just bad corrections policy, it was actually substantively torture of prisoners? >> senator, i do not recall ever personally being engaged in the studying of the constitutional issues at stake. it is perfectly legitimate for prisoners to work. they should be on decent conditions, and i think it should be the kind of work that is productive and could actually lead to developing good habits. i've heard some evidence on that
subject, so i do not have a legal opinion about the case. i have not studied it. >> just to be clear, what i am pressing on there is the use of the hitching post which is a disciplinary measure that had been abandoned by all states but alabama. it is really reminiscent more of the stocks, used centuries ago, into me, somewhat troubling to a continued without challenge. let me ask you more broadly. as you know, both republicans and democrats on this committee have worked together to address ways in which our criminal justice is broken and discuss the disparate racial impact of over incarceration that has happened over the last 30 years. just yesterday, we published an op-ed we wrote jointly about the importance of responsible and balanced criminal justice reform in, several other senators, all your fellow republicans, have supported meaningful reforms to address excessive mandatory sentences and incarceration.
in my experience here, six years with you, you have steadfastly opposed all of these efforts of bipartisan sentencing reform. help me understand why you have blocked efforts at reducing mandatory minimum sentences, at creating opportunities for the revisitation of sentences that may have been overly harsh when initially imposed, and help me understand whether you think it is ever proper for a prosecutor to charge anything less than the most serious offense available and carrying the longest sentence? >> a lot of questions there. so the sentencing act has one foundational requirement now, and that is the minimum mandatory, the guidelines either made voluntary by the commission and the courts or the policies of the attorney general. the thing that doesn't stand in place are the minimum mandatory's, the minimum that
can be sentenced for a certain offense. i offered legislation in 2001. it was opposed by the bush justice department, that would have reduced the sentencing guidelines, and in fact, a number of years later, unfortunately, it essentially could have been done in 2001, when i made a speech in favor of it, made a speech saying what you are saying that it was disproportionately impacting our african-american community, and we needed to fix it, and eventually, that was passed. i have a record of doing that, number one. number two, these other things happen in the meantime, the guidelines were reduced, the justice department has reduced its requirements. they now allow a prosecutor to present a case to the judge that does not fully reflect the evidence that they have in their files about a case, and that is
a problem. you should not charge, i think, it is problematic and difficult to justify a prosecutor charging 5 kilos of heroin went when the actual amount was ten to get a lower sentence. there may be circumstances where somehow proof and other issues could justify that, but i would say as a principal, you have to be careful about it. finally, senator guidelines are in the breadth of the congress, they are mandated by law. i was concerned about what we were beginning to see a rising with the rise in crime at the same time a decline in sentences peer they are down 19% already based on changes, so that is a matter of interest. i felt we should slow down a bit before we go