Charles P. Pierce on Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III’s testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee yesterday and the fact that he bullshitted his way through it, ably assisted by toady Tom Cotton (bet he gives great head) and John Cornyn, who stands up for his fellow Dixian.
Democracy is helpless against this kind of contempt, especially if its primary institutions surrender to it without a fight, the way they did on Tuesday. To be plain, because of his continual assertion of an “appropriateness” privilege—which does not exist in the Constitution or the laws of this country—in order to avoid answering questions under oath, JeffBo should be residing in a holding cell right now until he changes his mind. (It’s very possible that Dan Coats and Mike Rogers should temporarily be his bunkmates, too. And the consistency of the testimony of all three men suggests a certain amount of, ah, coordination at other levels.)
You just don’t get to refuse to answer questions before a Senate committee because you don’t want to, or because you think you might get the president* in Dutch, or because you don’t like the people asking the questions. The Bartleby defense—”I would prefer not to…”—has no basis in constitutional or criminal law. There is no, as Senator Martin Heinrich put it to JeffBo, “appropriateness bucket” in which the attorney general can hide himself. Yet, there he was at the end of things, being flattered by the committee’s chairman, Richard Burr, Republican of North Carolina, for the immense sacrifice JeffBo had made in coming in and being transparently ridiculous on camera for a couple of hours.
The people who best treed JeffBo on his most preposterous bullshit—Heinrich, Kamala Harris of California, and The Mustache of Righteousness, Angus King of Maine—could only push him so far. Everybody on that committee knew that what JeffBo was selling was batter-fried nonsense. (Call me an elitist snob if you like, but whenever I hear a Southerner talking about “mah honah,” I reach for William Tecumseh Sherman’s phone number.)
Everybody on that committee knew that, when JeffBo declined to answer questions about whether James Comey was fired because of the Russia probe, he was hiding the plain truth behind a privilege that he’d made up on the spot. Everybody on that committee knew that JeffBo’s memory lapses were at best highly convenient. (He couldn’t remember meeting the Russian ambassador, but he could quote an op-ed by William Barr from almost a year ago? That dog don’t even want to hunt.) Everybody on that committee knew that you can’t refuse to answer a question because the president* might want to invoke executive privilege at some vague point in the future. But if the majority is content to look like an entire bag of tools and pretend otherwise, there’s not much the Senate can do about being obstructed in such a shameless fashion.
I would like to think that there are Republicans who have a grain of conscience and respect for sanity — or at least common sense — who listened to what Mr. Sessions said yesterday and said “Enough!” But that ship sailed long ago, back when they had a chance to banish this band of draggle-tailed poseurs and con artists. But no, they just had to win the election, so they sold their souls — and our country.