tv MSNBC Live MSNBC January 10, 2017 11:00am-12:01pm PST
you shouldn't charge, i think it's problem and difficult to justify a prosecutor charging five keelos of heroin when the actual amount was ten to get a lower sentence. now, there may be circumstances when somehow proof and other issues could justify that. i just would say as a principle you have got to be careful about it. finally, colleagues, sentencing guidelines are within the breast of the congress. they are mandated by law. i was concerned about what we're seeing is -- beginning to see a rise in crime, at the same time a decline in sentences. sentences are down 19% already as based on sessions durbin and guidelines changes. so that's a matter of interest. and i felt we should slow down a bit before we go further.
>> well, if i might -- >> to make sure we are not making a mistake senator coops. >> it is my hope that if you are confirmed and we do make progress on bipartisan criminal justice reform that as attorney general you will carry out whatever legislative decisions might be made by this body. last let me say in my six years here in addition to not working on a number of bipartisan proposals on criminal justice reform you have repeatedly voted against congressional attempts to prohibit torture in the military on text or the interrogation context and to defend enhanced interrogation practices. are you clear now that our statutes prohibit torture and if the president were to rover yid that clear legal authority what actions would you take? >> on your previous question i would note the federal prison population has already dropped 10 or more percent and will drop
another 10,000 this year. what is happening now is reducing the federal population. this law only dealt with the federal prison population. and that represents the most serious offenders, our federal dea and u.s. attorneys are prosecuting more serious cases. with regard to the torture issues, i watched them for some time and have been concerned about what we should do about it. the bill that passed last time was a major step. i thought it was really not the right step. senator graham, i know, has been an opponent of torture steadfastly and supported a lot of different things, opposed it. it basically took -- what i was teaching the young soldiers at the army reserve unit as a lecturer as a teacher, the army field manual.
and it made that the law for the entire government, including the intelligence agencies and other departments. i thought that was an unwise step to take something that directs even the lowest private to do to make that the rule for higher ups. it is the law -- >> senator sessions -- >> it is the law and it needs to be enforced, absolutely. >> as we both know there was a bipartisan effort to review our experience with enhanced -- but it was not effective. >> it was. senator graham and jag office, and i was for a little bit. >> thank you mr. chairman. senator sessions congratulations on your nomination. >> thank you. >> you are a friend. your man of integrity. you and i have worked closely together on this committee, on the armed services committee. and i have every confidence you are going to make a superb attorney general. you know, this has been an interesting day at this hearing,
listening to democratic senator after democratic senator give speeches in praise of the rule of law. i am heartened by that i am encouraged by that. because for eight years it's been absent. for eight years, we've seen a department of justice consistently disregarding the rule of law. when eric holer's department of justice allowed illegal gun transactions, illegally sold guns to mexican gun traffickers as part of fast and furious, guns that were later used to murder border patrol agent brian terry, the democratic member of this committee were silent. when eric holder was found in contempt of congress for refusing to cooperate with congress's investigation into fast and furious, once again the democratic members this committee were silent. when the irs illegally targeted united states citizens for exercising the first amendment views for exercising their roles
in the political process, democratic members of this committee were silent. when the department of justice refused to fairly investigate the irs targeting citizens and indeed assign the investigation to a liberal partisan democratic who had given over $6,000 to president obama and democrats, democrats on this committee were silent. when numerous members of this committee called on the attorney general to appoint a special prosecutor to ensure that justice was done on the irs case democrats on this committee were silent. when the justice department began using operation choke point to target law-abiding citizens that they disagreed with politically. >> you are a racist! you are ties in the kkk. you are -- [ inaudible ] black lives matter, black lives matter, black lives matter!
[ shouting ] [ shouting ] >> senators, do your job! >> you know, free speech is a wonderful thing. when the department of justice used operation choke point to target legal businesses because they disagreed politically with those businesses, the democrats on this committee were silent. when the obama justice department sent millions of dollars of taxpayer monies to sanctuary cities that were defying federal immigration law the democrats on this committee were silent.
when the obama administration refused to enforce federal immigration laws and unilaterally rewrote those laws the democrats on this committee were silent. when the obama administration released tens of thousands of criminal illegal aliens including rapists and murderers into the general population, democrats on this committee were silent. when the department of justice signed off on the obama administration paying a nearly $2 billion ransom to iran, contrary to federal law, the democrats on this committee were silent. when the obama administration ignored and rewrote provision after provision of obamacare contrary to the text of the law, the democrats on this committee were silent. when the obama administration signed off on illegal recess appointments that the supreme court had to strike down unanimously, the democrats on this committee when silent. and when the obama administration released five
guantanamo terrorists without the notification of congress, the democrats on this committee were silent. that pattern has been dismaying for eight years but i take today as a moment of celebration. if once again this committee has a bipartisan commitment to rule of law, to following the law, that is a wonderful thing and it is consistent with the tradition of this committee, going back centuries. now if we were to play a game of tit for tat, if what was good for the goose were good for the gander then a republican attorney general should be equally partisan, should disregard the law, should advance political preferences favored by the republican party. senator sessions do you believe that would be appropriate for an torney general to do? >> no, i do no i believe you -- and i think we do have to be aware that when something like this is done and some of the things i'm familiar with enough to agree with you that i thought were improper, i do believe it has a corrosive effect on public confidence in
the constitutional republic of which we are sworn to uphold. >> i think you are exactly right. you and i are both alumni of the department of justice, and it has a long bipartisan tradition of staying outside of partisan politics, of simply and fairly enforcing the law. i will say right now if i believed that you would implement policies, even policies i agreed with, contrary to law. i would vote against your confirmation. the reason i'm so enthusiast enthusiastically supporting your confirmation is i have every degree of confidence you will follow the law faithfully and honestly. and this is the first and most important obligation of the attorney general. now, earlier in this hearing senator franken engaged you in a discussion that i think was intended to try to undermine your character and integrity. and in particular, senator franken suggested that you had
somehow misrepresented your record. it is unfortunate to see emembes of this body impugn the integrity of a senator with whom we have served for years. it is particularly unfortunate when that attack is not backed up by the facts. senator franken based his attack primarily on an op ed written by an attorney, gerald hebert. there is an irony in relying on mr. hebert, because as you know, 1996 mr. hebert testified then and attacked you then, making false charges against you. indeed i would note in the 1996 hearing two days later mr. hebert was forced to recant his testimony to say he had given false testimony to this committee and to say, i apologize to any inconvenience to this committee or mr.
sessions by my testimony. his op ed is now the basis for senator franken's attack on you. indeed, the basis of senator franken's attack is he claims you were uninvolved in several civil rights cases that were listed on your question mayor. in 1986, mr. hebert testified -- this is a quote from him -- i have needed mr. session's help in those cases and he has provided that help every step of the way. is that correct that that's what mr. hebert testified? >> yes, that's correct. >> now in the four cases senator franken referred to, you reported all four of them in your supplement to the judiciary committee. is that right? >> that is correct. >> mr. franken didn't mention that. and let me point out here's how you describe your involvement in your written submission to this committee, quote, for the cases described in 248 and 9 my role like most u.s. attorneys in
theation and with non-criminal civil rights cases was to provide support for the civil rights division attorneys. i reviewed signed and cosigned briefs and others filed during my tenure. i provided assistance and guidance to the civil rights attorneys, had an open door policy with them and cooperated with them on these cases. for the cases described in 6, i supervised litigation and sign the pleading. that is consistent with the 1986 testimony that you provided help every step of the way; is that correct? >> i think, yes. >> there is no question you have been forthright with this committee and i would note that members of this committee don't have to search far and wide to know who jeff sessions is. we've known every day sitting at this bench alongside you. i want to shift to a different topic, and it's the topic i opened with which is the politicization of the department of justice. the office of legal counsel has a critical role of providing sound, legal and constitutional
advice both to the attorney general and the president. in the last eight years we have seen a highly politicized olc. an olc that has given politically convenient rulings whether on recess appointments, whether on executive amnesty. and early on, perhaps that was started by 2009 attorney general holder overruling olc concerning legislation trying to grant the district of columbia representation in congress. and it may well be that that sent a message to olc that its opinions were to be political and not legal in nature. tell me, senator session what will you do as attorney general to restore professionalism and fidelity of the law to the office of legal counsel. >> senator, i think any short-term political agenda gapes that come from the abuse of -- the law making processes and requirements of the department of justice just don't
make sense. it will always in the long run be more damaging than the short-term gain that one might have. the office of legal counsel, all of us who have served in the department know, is a bigtime position. you need a mature, smart, experienced person who understands this government, who understands the laws and is principled and consistent in their application of the laws. that will help the president. it will help the congress. it will help the american people. i do believe we need to work hard to have that, and i will do my best to ensure we do have it. >> one final question. in the last eight years the deputy of justice's slit for general office has also i believe been unfortunately political sized. it and it sustained a unprecedented number of losses before the united states supreme court. indeed, president obama's justice department won less than half of its total cases before the supreme court, which is the lowest presidential win rate
since harry truman. the average historically for the last 50 years has been about 70%. snum rouse of those cases were unanimous with indeed both obama supreme court appointees voting against the lawless positions of this justice department including their assertion that the government has the authority to supervise and direct the appointment and the hiring and firing of clergy in the church. what will you do as attorney general to ensure the integrity of the office of slitter general that it is faithful to the law and not advancing extreme political positions like the obama justice department did that have been rejected over and over again by the supreme court? >> i think the problem there is a desire to achieve a result sometimes that overrides the commitment to the law. in the long run, this country will be stronger if we adhere to the law even though somebody might be frustrated in the short-term of not achieving an agenda. the solicitor general should not
advocate to alter the meaning of words to advance an agenda. that is an abuse of office and i would try to seek to have a slit for general who is faithful to the constitution, serves under the constitution, does not feel that its that power to rise above it and make it say what it wants it to say. >> thank you senator sessions. >> we've been watching this hearing now since the morning hours. we want to get a quick accounting of what our correspondents have been able to learn, starting with kelly o'donnell who covers capitol hill for us and has been stationed outside the hearing room. kelly, what have you picked up? >> brian, this is of course the entrance to the kennedy caucus room where this hearing and many others in history have taken place. and i think what is particularly striking today is how you see republicans trying to prepare and protect jeff sessions in terms the criticism coming his way, and democrats who are working to elicit areas where they think there are weaknesses
in his testimony or discrepancies in his record or thing they can try to ship a light on because democrats don't have the numbers to block this confirmation but they want to expose -- -- forward barring any unforeseen circumstance. you really get a sense today of the mood here. as the first confirmation hearing, one with high stakes, a huge role, and nominee who does have some controversy in his past, the energy here in the russel senate office buildings with protesters, with international media here, and with all the people associated with staging a hearing like this, putting this on, it has been a day where you really get a sense that this is when congress can do its work with the nation paying attention. and these are real issues that are raw nerves for many americans.
and they are getting a hearing today. sessions has been put through a lot of practice. we could hear that in some of his responses where he knew that there might be some areas in his record or his past statements that needed to be fixed a bit. and some of the republicans have tried to give him a forum to answer the critic. and we've seen that unfold today. >> kelly o'donnell on the hill. to pete williams we go next. pete, the folks that haven't watched a hearing, a high-profile hearing like this for long time would be forgiven for forgetting that this is really a team sport. various members of both teams go up, take their turns, make their points, try to score some points. so it would be so unusual indeed for this committee to knock down, to reject a nominee for a cabinet job. >> correct. and i think what you are seeing here is exactly that a well coordinated evident here among
the democrats. all of them seem to be asking about a different facet of jeff sessions either of his time as the u.s. attorney and prosecutor in alabama and his time as a u.s. senator. and they are not repeating each other for the most part although there have been several questions here about for example, what if donald trump insists on trying to reimpose water boarding? would you advise him that that's against the law? sessions has said several times that he would. the question of voting rights has come up repeatedly today as well. senator sessions seemed to go out of his way although only with one sentence, to say that he believes civil rights are very important, specific voter rights. voter id has been a controversial issue, it's one that the justice department has been suing states over what they consider to be restrictive voter id laws. senator sessions said on the surface it did not appear to him
that state voter id laws actually suppress the minority vote. so elections have consequences. there are going to be many case ways in which in justice department under donald trump is different than under barack obama. i think today is an effort both to try to tease out his views that will be different but also to try to set some markers here and putting himself on the record on issues like civil rights and the voting rights act. >> we are starting a busy week. while we've been talking, up with of two other hearings have been going on. the nation's command structure and intelligence has been appearing over in front of senate intelligence. what has been gained or learned from that hearing? >> i don't know, brian, because i have been watching this one. but senator sessions was asked today about the intel committee report, which as you know donald trump has shown some skepticism about its conclusion.
and what mr. session said today is he has no reason to doubt the intelligence report about russian hacking. and he has seen no evidence to the contrary. nothing to indicate that the report is wrong. in other words, he's not exactly embraced it, but nothing -- we won't distance himself from night pete williams sharing with our viewers a fundamental truth. while watching one hearing we can't be expected to watch another at the same time. never been done as far as i know. pete, thank you very much. and thanks as always for your honesty. we're going to take a break in our coverage on the other side katie tur is here and standing by in our new york studios to take this hour the rest of the way. >> turns out that attorney general nominee jeff sessions and chuck schumer have a similar morning routine. >> do you work out in the gym with senator sessions? what does he do and what do you do. >> we are on the bikes next to each other oftentimes watching morning joe and making
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it has been a jam packed day on capitol hill. on the left of your screen, senator jeff sessions before the senate judiciary committee, the first of trump's nominees to come to the capitol. under consideration for attorney general of the united states. on the right of your screen, fbi director james comey.
he is sitting before the senate intelligence committee for a hearing on russian hacking. this is his first time speaking publicly since the presidential election. first to session's nomination hearing which was mark bite repeated protests, the alabama senator sitting before that committee since roughly 9:30 this morning in a hearing that's expected to last two days. here's a quick recap of what we have heard so far. >> i abhor the klan and what it represents and its hateful etiology. i believe the proper thing for me to do would be to recuse myself from any questions involving those kind of investigations that involve secretary clinton. >> how do you feel about a foreign entity trying to interfere in our election? >> i think it's i go can't event. >> i'm not asking if you believe it influenced it just if you belief the report of our intelligence agencies? >> i have no reason to doubt that and have no evidence that
would indicate otherwise. i have no belief and do not support the idea in a muslims as a religious group should be denied admission to the united states. i do believe that if you continually go through a cycle of amnesty that you undermine the respect for the law and encourage more illegal immigration into america. >> down the hallway at the capitol fbi director james comey being asked what he knew about and when about reports russia hacked america's election. >> there is no doubt that the russians attacked intruded and took data from some of those systems. >> joining me now from the hill, casey hunt. and from the pentagon, hans nickels. casey, let's start with you. senator sessions was grilled on civil rights, women's rights, hate crimes, immigration, his ability to say no to donald trump. the muslim ban, torture, russian hacking, freedom of the press.
what so far has been the major headline? and is there anything in there that could potentially, if not derail his confirmation, then pose a hurdle? >> at this point katie i think the short answer is we haven't heard anything that stands out as something that's really going to be a sticking, tripping block for jeff sessions on his road to confirmation. now, that said, before we go through a couple of those other issues one thing that we did see some late focus on was senator al franken's line of questioning. what franken did was essentially press jeff sessions on his history fighting for civil rights. so jeff sessions, the trump transition team have worked very hard to highlight areas of his resume when he served as alabama attorney general and in other roles fighting on behalf of civil rights. essentially trying to push back against this narrative that emerged when sessions was denied that federal judgeship over
questions about remarks to colleagues that his colleagues said were racist. so that's been their kind of whole way of looking at this. what franken did was try to poke holes in that, asked sessions did you prosecute 20 or 30 cases about desegregation or was it really just a few? that was the one moment when we saw sessions struggle a little bit to answer questions. you heard senator ted cruz just before we started talking here focusing a little bit on that trying to give sessions some points of defense of course if you will, trying to say that yes he did work on those issues. but other than that, katie, i think a lot of the points that democrats have hit on through these hearings we expected. we expected the focus on the violence against women act. we expected the focus on race. of course some of those issues came up under questioning from republicans. lindsey graham pushing senator sessions on that russian hacking question. that was a potentially risky place for sessions to be.
he was questioned whether he does believe the fbi's assessments, other things like that. i think atmospherically the protests very much a central point of this and underscore kind of the public pressure around this nomination. but so far i'm not hearing anybody say that this hearing means that sessions is any less likely to be confirmed. >> what will be the democrats' strategy going forward? i know we've seen a number of protests in the hall trying to disrupt this hearing. but this is just the first of many confirmation hearings we are going to be getting this week. what is going to be the general strategy for the democrats? is this just a situation where they are going to be trying to question each nominee as a proxy to donald trump because they can't question him directly? >> in some cases, yes, that's true. session is particular because of his background on civil rights and because there are so many activists who are really focused on this nomination. and you saw that in the protests here today. i think you are going to see different strategies for other nominees. you are going to see probably an
ideological activist focus around people like tom price for health and human services. i think you will see a focus on russia and hacking with rex tillerson for example. i think each one is going to bring up a new set of questions. i think the nominees that republicans and the transition team are most concerned about and ones where democrats see most tune might be flying under the radar. one i want to highlight is the nominee fortressry secretary. he has to turn over his tax returns. there was a lot of money spent and that he made in a lot of ways that the democrats are going to question. the housing crisis for example. republicans don't think he is going to be as polished as rex tillerson might be tomorrow or as jeff sessions has been today. >> we have seen a number of protests in that room. interesting to point out that that is the same room as we've seen the watergate hearings. it's where clarence thomas had
his hearings. it's also the very first investigation they ever did in that room was 1912, the investigation into the sinking of the titanic. a little -- the more you know right there. let's turn to our pentagon correspondent who has been monitoring the other hearing that's going on on capitol hill right now. james comey in front of the senate intelligence committee. this is the first time we've seen the fbi director since the election. hans, talk to me about what we are hearing so far. he is there to testify about russianacking and he was asked very specifically if the fbi investigated any of president-elect donald trump's ties to russia. what was his answer on that? >> well, his challenge throughout this entire hearing is not to give too much away in terms of sources and methods. but listen to what he had to say actually about the forensics of what they know. >> our forensics folks would always prefer to get access to the original device or server that's involved. so it's the best evidence. >> were you given access to do the forensics on those servers?
>> we were not. we were -- a highly respected private company eventually got access and shared with us what they saw there. >> katie the main point, main takeaway from this hearing versus last week this senate select committee on intelligence seem much more partisan. we have seen a number of senators block and tackle for the president-elect essentially make his point that they don't necessarily think the hacking influence was dispositive on the election and we've seen democrats similarly looking to those panelists, looking to the fbi director, dni director clapper that russia clearly meddled and tried to influence the election. last week you had republicans, john mccain saying it was an act of war. this committee seems more partisan less impartial than the one last week. one final piece of information. we are watching both hearings hear.
you just saw senator sessions make the point that he does not think that enhanced interrogation, torture, isly. that is a clear departure from the alberto gonzalez point that you can always have some enhanced interrogation. >> that's a departure from what donald trump said on the campaign trail, that he believes water boarding is not torture and it is an effective form of interrogation. he since tried to walk that back a little or change his stance on it since he found out that james mattis his nominee for defense secretary didn't necessarily believe it. james, one other point. s in the first time we've seen james comey since the election. 11 days before the election he came out and revuved, if you will, the investigation into hillary clinton's e-mails. are we expecting to hear him address that in any way? are the democrats going the try to get him on record or have they already for how he -- whether he believes he might have unduly influenced the
election with that release? >> my kptation katie heading into this was that he was clearly going to be grilled on that i have not heard a question on that. i have pete williams to thank for this -- it's really hard to watch two hearing at once but i have not heard that. pete williams is a better reporter than me. let me offer that. and you don't need a second source on that. williams, better than nicholls. >> pete williams is great. hans nicholls, you are proven to be great as well. thank you for joining me. >> joining me now, cornell williams brooks and cedric richmond. mr. brooks, i want to start with you. senator sessions tried vehemently to say he was not a racist, to push back against this caricature of him that was painted in 1996 when he first went in front of the hearings to try to get a federal judgeship but was unsuccessful in that. has he said or done anything today that makes you feel like he has changed or he is somebody
that will be a defender of civil rights in this country, a defender of the causes of the naacp. >> no. i have not heard anything to suggest that he is fit to lead the department of justice. the fact of the matter is we are not -- our endeavor is not to -- nor is our burden to prove that he is a racist. but it is our burden as attested to by the record that he is not fit, nor is he inclined to protect american citizens from racial discrimination. so when you look at the record, going back to 1986 where you had federal officials testifying under oath as to racially offensive remarks -- when you look at those remarks, that behavior, and the conduct, the legislation, the record from then until now we find nothing that assures american citizens that they will be protected by senator sessions as attorney general of the united states. so when it comes to voter
suppression we have courts in the fifth circuit and the fourth circuit that have found voter id laws, voter suppressives and racial dim in aer to. in the state of alabama you have a voter id law. in his home statement he said not a mumbling word about that id law and has in fact suppressed support for voter id laws. we have 21 million americans whose right to the franchise is in peril, threatened by voter id laws. he has not made it clear that that would be a prosecutorial priority. so simply mouthing the words voter rights, as you mouth faith in voter fraud, which is a predicate for voter suppression does not offer us any assurance at all that he can lead the department of justice. so what we've seen today is some deference to senator sessions for his tenure, his time, his
collegiality in the senate as opposed to expressing confidence in his constitutional suitability to lead the department of justice. when we look at his record respect to criminal justice reform he stands for mandatory minimums in a country and at a moment when we have 2.3 million americans behind bars, 1 million fathers behind bars, 65 million plus americans with a criminal record and hundreds and hundreds of thousands of activists in the streets across our country who are standing against this era of mass incarceration. we draw no assurance from his record. when it comes to immigration rights, he stood against any and every form of comprehensive immigration reform in this country in the senate. and so if we are going to give him credit for his collegiality in the senate, we also have to give him accountability for his legislative record in the senate. make no mistake. >> stay with us mr. brook. congressman richmond i want to bring you in. you are part of the congressional black caucus. they held a news conference over
the course of the last few weeks and they have been voicing concerns about the session nominations. you yourself will be testifying against senator sessions on bhaft of the cbc tomorrow. what are you planning to say? and how are you planning to convince your fellow congressmen that maybe senator sessions is not the right choice for e.g.? >> i think that cornell laid out a very good description of the concerns that we have. the position of attorney general is a very serious position. tur top law enforcement officer in the kuchbl you will enforce civil rights. you will enforce voting rights. and senator session's records on voting rights is suspect at best. at worst, he is a participant in disenfranchising people and voting is the roots to the treef democracy. >> congressman -- >> those are the concerns we have. >> these are two different jobs. his job as a senator is not
necessarily the same as his job as -- if he gets confirmed as an attorney general. in one case he is trying to shape laws and advocating for laws or voting against laws. in another, he is slated to uphold the laws that already exist. are you not confident that he as a professional, he as a lawyer, as a civil servant, will be able to disassociate himself from his own personal viewpoints? and uphold the laws as they stand on the books? >> well, if you look at his record from when he was attorney general in alabama or you look at his complete body of work, part of the role of the attorney general of the united states is to make sure that policing and justice is done on a fair basis. he has already expressed his concern and his thoughts that consent decrees were intrusive. and if consent decrees are the department of justice's vehicles
to make sure that police departments across the country, new orleans, baltimore and others are under cop sent decrees to make sure that justice is done and justice is applied across the board. let's not talk about all the desegregation cases for education that are still out there. there are 30 education cases under consent decree to make sure that children from every zip code will be treated fairly in terms of quality access to a public education. and the attorney general of the united states has a responsibility to ensure those thing. his record, his words, i think demonstrate that he does not have the desire to do it and he wouldn't do it. in those roles of the department of justice are just as important as any of the other roles. >> congressman richmond, very quickly because i want to get mr. brooks' take on this as well. it looks like he will be confirmed. are you going to be able to work with him going forward? >> well, part of our duties is oversight.
and to make sure that the rules and the guidance of not only the deputy of justice but all of the departments are followed. and to that extent, we will never give up our right of oversight and our congressional responsibility to make sure that the department is running in that matter. but we are pushing for criminal justice reform. and senator sessions was an obstacle to criminal justice reform to the extent that he would see the light and all of the data and come along with criminal justice reform we will work with him. but i believe our role is going to be to make sure that the department of justice upholds its oath and it fights against discrimination based on race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, and all of the other things. and i -- so far us, we are going to be in oversight mode making sure that the department does what it's supposed to do. >> mr. brooks, quickly, if you can, where does the naacp go from here? >> where do we go from here?
we double down in terms of our opposition. we have to be very clear about this. this is a perilous moment in american history where this nation is deeply divided by race, where the criminal justice system seems to represent injustice for so many people around the country. and so we are very clear, we have to hold senator sessions accountable for his lack of commitment to using consent decrees where we have police departments in ferguson to baltimore to cleveland where consent decrees are a vehicle through which we hold police departments accountable and we bring communities and police together. we have to take this nomination seriously. and it is not a foregone conclusion that he will be confirmed. make it clear. from 1789 until now, the senate has had the responsibility of not engaging in a political coronation, but in fact engaging in a democratic confirmation process in which they assess the
fitness of the attorney general nominee to be attorney general. and we are going to make the case until the last possible moment. we will register our concerns. we will register our discontent in terms of our views and opinions, our perspective under the constitution. not only will we articulate them with our mouths but also with our bodies in terms of civil disobedience. be clear, this process continues as we speak, and the naacp opposes this nomination as we see. >> we will see. one more dave hearings. thank you gentlemen. next up, new reaction from the trump transition about today's confirmation hearings as the president-elect himself prepares to hold his first news conference since his white house win. that is expected to happen tomorrow. stay with us.
president-elect of the united states. it's going to be his first news conference in more than 160 days, since mid-july. and it's happening just nine days before his inauguration. as of now, all signs point to it actually happening, too. joining me now from our washington newsroom, peter alexander. let's talk about this news conference -- before we get to the news conference let's first talk about how the transition team is reacting to senator session's testimony today. it's very clear that he was well prepared for this. are they feeling like he is well representing not only himself but donald trump's presidency? >> i think before we do this we need to put something that says spin alert on the bottom of the screen. they are not going to say they think he is getting crushed. they are going to say they are satisfied. i spoke with one of the persons who was hyped the scenes in the process of preparing. they say they couldn't be happier with this.
they say his performance has been excel.. they say he has been confounding all the car,tures the left wing group has been trying to sell over the last weeks. they insist that the democrats are struggling. the bottom line is another individual close to the transition told us he is presenting himself as compassionate, as level headed and as a constitutional thinker. they recognize that they are on home field advantage right now. it is a more than likely despite all the protest you have seen there that he will have sufficient support because obviously republicans have majority right how. >> spin alert indeed let's talk about tomorrow's news conference. he is expected to talk about his business dealings and the ways he is going to go forward by handing it over to his children. what else are we expecting to hear from mr. trump? what sort of topics could be covered? there is a myriad of them, right? >> i think you are exactly right. this is the first time he has held one of these news conferences in more than
160-something days right now. so reporters, you and i and others have obviously been gathering up our questions. there are a variety of top i. the best opportunity we've had to sort of pin him down on questions related to the intelligence report and other which come in the short he can changes when he comes down from his tower at trur tower on fifth avenue. >> the golden escalator. >> i trust will there will be questions about russia, especially the intelligence. has said russia is not the only perpetrator of these types of crimes. he refers to china and others. and others in his team has said too much focus has been put on russia. obviously questions in other places in that region, syria as well. obamacare going to be a significant conversation pooesz piece as well. >> also foreign to remind the audience last time he had a news conference during the dnc that's when he encouraged the russia to
find hillary clinton's memes. those notable. the "new york times" is saying he is going to be encouraging republicans to immediately repeal obamacare. he is saying that if it takes weeks it will be too long. but he also wants them to have a plan in place to replace it. that doesn't seem like that is likely to happen. is this just him using his bully pulpit to get them to move quickly -- more quickly than maybe congress normally does? >> here's the challenge here. here's in part what he said to the "new york times." he said we have to get to business. obamacare has been a catastrophic event. the challenge here is that his position is saying there should be an immediate repeal of obamacare. and then within a matter of two to three weeks perhaps a replacement put in place as the fact there is no replacement available right now. the vote on the process begin as early as this week in terms of repeeping right now. you have some republicans who want to see a repeal but they also want to have an immediate
replacement. we are concerned in the repeal happens too soon it could take a couple of years to have a replacement. i've been interviewing some at the freedom caucus and elsewhere, and they have admitted we don't have a plan. we have a lot of plans, paul ryan among others say they need time to develop the replace men plan. it's going to be difficult. >> let's continue on this track talking about donald trump's urging of congress to repeal obamacare. joining me now is political analyst robert costa. no one better has a direct line into the donald trump transition and to donald trump himself than you do, robert. now talk to me. how frustrated is he potentially going to be seeing that congress does not work as quickly as maybe he would expect them to? or maybe he is used to in his business dealings?
>> quite frustrated. the u.s. congress here at the capitol is by no means like the trump organization. things move at a glacial pace in congress. it is difficult to get rid of the obamacare because of all the different taxes and to make sure the insurance system doesn't collapse. while they want to get rid of the health care law as soon as possible the process could take not only weeks but months. >> as you are talking you should mention that senator sessions as you can see on our screen is still being grilled, if you will, on capitol hill. his hearing started at 9:30. it has been quite a long time. it is going to go through tomorrow. talk to me about how the transition is preparing not only senator session but the other nominees, if you will, for four cab -- for cabinet position. they are doing mock hearings. they are trying to get them prepared for a myriad of
questions from democrats, trying to find a way to make them as non-controversial as they possibly can be? >> that's exactly right, katie. senator sessions because he is a member of the club in congress s a member of the senate, he hasn't had as extensive preparations or concerns. of course he has gotten ready for these hearings but he is seen as someone who in spite of his report, quite conservative by all accounts, from both parties, he will be likely confirmed even as there are some protests from democrats. other nominees on the agenda, such as rex tillerson, the oil executive, former head of exxonmobil they are getting much more training. tillerson has been media savvy during his career. he has a large public profile as a major executive at a global corporation but it's different here at this stage. >> tomorrow we have donald trump's press conference. we also have news that jared kushner is going to be a senior
adviser, that's his daughter ivanka's husband. a ton of news coming out of the trump transition. there will continue to be i suspect in the days to come. stay with user, robert costa joining us from the hill. next, president obama's last address to the nation in just hours before donald trump becomes america's 45th commander in chief. this is humira. this is humira helping to relieve my pain and protect my joints from further damage. this is humira helping me go further. humira works for many adults. it targets and helps to block a specific source of inflammation that contributes to ra symptoms. humira has been clinically studied for over 18 years. humira can lower your ability to fight infections, including tuberculosis. serious, sometimes fatal infections and cancers, including lymphoma, have happened, as have blood, liver and nervous system problems, serious allergic reactions, and new or worsening heart failure.
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we're back on a busy day on capitol hill. the first of donald trump's nominees, senator jeff sessions testifying before the judiciary committee under consideration as the next attorney general. joining me now is mbz news michael besh loss. michael, let's get quickly your impressions of the hearings so far. there has been a number of protesters that have disrupted. where does this line up in terms of historical context? >> one of the most important
confirmations of an attorney general in modern times. because usually you have got a president with long public service experience. you know where he stands on voting rights, civil rights, criminal justice. not donald trump. nor has he ever dealt with an attorney general before. so what you have seen is these senators trying to get sessions essentially to agree to certain precedents serving a president who delights in breaking traditions and precedents so they will have some assurance on what is going to happen. >> let's talk about president obama. he gives his final address tonight. going back home to chicago essentially trying to recapture a lib of that grant park feeling he had back in 2008 when he accepted the presidency. talk to me about what you expect to hear from him. and where will this rank in terms of presidential farewells? >> i think what we will hear is some prompting to people like me, historians, what we should think and write about barack obama in the future.
we had farewell addresses from truman and eisenhower and reagan. these were all people along the years. barack obama presumably has decades ahead in his career. presumably we'll hear him say this is what i think i have done and this is why it's relevant to the country in the future. >> we should also note that the hearing with fbi director james comey has now ended. stay here on mbz to watch complete coverage of president obama's final address. also complete coverage of all of the hearing news we're coming out of today. ahead of the president's speech you can watch all of these different shows on mbz and nbc. and lester holt of "nbc nightly news" with sit down with president obama exclusively. you can watch that conversation friday night on nbc. check your local listings. that does it for this hour of mbz live. kate snow picks thiks up right now. >> we have a lot to cover this
afternoon, don't we? we are still informing this extremely busy day on capitol hill in washington. senator jeff session's confirmation hearing continues for attorney general. that's the senate judiciary committee. that's still going on. just wrapped up the senate intelligence committee. but this one at some points the hearing got contentious. it was interrupted by people protesting session as number of times. but in the senator's opening remarks he did tell the committee that he is committed to fairness and equal justice under the law. >> you know who i am, you know what i believe in, you know that i'm 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'm committed to the rule of law, and you know that i believe in fairness, in impartiality and equal justice under law. >> we'll be breaking down much more of session's hearing today with our team from capitol hill in just a moment. so