— CNN (@CNN) November 14, 2017
Following testy opening remarks regarding accusations of falsely misremembering or lying about certain matters in previous testimony, Attorney General Jeff Sessions’s time before the House Judiciary Committee predictably addressed more recent, newsworthy subjects. For example, Democratic Representative Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas brought up the accusations of sexual misconduct with minors levied against Roy Moore, the Senate hopeful from Alabama. Why? Because Moore, the state GOP’s chosen candidate, is campaigning to fill Sessions’s vacant seat.
“Do you believe these young women?” Jackson asked Sessions point-blank after summarizing the various accusations against Moore. After a brief beat, Sessions indirectly said he did. “I have no reason to doubt these young women.” The representative then asked the attorney general if the allegations against Moore, a former Alabama state judge, were enough to justify further inquiries “should [he] be seated in the Senate if he wins.” Again, his answer was an affirmative — albeit indirect — one:
“We will evaluate every case as to whether or not it should be investigated. This kind of case would normally be a state case. I would say, Rep. Jackson Lee, that the ethics people at the Department of Justice — and I’ve talked to them about that, when this campaign started, since it’s the seat I used to hold… They advised me that the attorney general should not be involved in this campaign. I have friends in the campaign. I have steadfastly adhered to that view, and I think I should continue to do so.”
Obviously, Sessions is right to follow the Justice Department’s advice and informally recuse himself from the matter, as the Senate seat in contention was his own and he is likely familiar with many of the state GOP officials involved in Moore’s campaign. Even so, Jackson ended the brief back-and-forth with a note that, given the federal status of the U.S. Senate, “There would be the possibility of referring [Moore’s] case for at least a federal review by the Department of Justice.”
Sessions’ response? “We will do our duty.”