ABC: Newly Released Footage Shows Sessions Sparring With DOJ Interns

Attorney General Jeff Sessions removes his glasses as he speaks on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, June 13, 2017, while testifying before the Senate Intelligence Committee hearing about his role in the firing of James Comey, his Russian contacts during the campaign and his decision to recuse from an investigation into possible ties between Moscow and associates of President Donald Trump. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
Alex Brandon/AP

Video published Thursday by ABC News of a Q&A between Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Justice Department interns shows Sessions arguing for conservative positions on policing, the enforcement of drug laws, gun access and other policy areas.

In one exchange, Sessions told an intern — who had named young black men killed by police officers and said that some people feared the the police more than their neighbors — “That may be the view in Berkeley, but it’s not the view in most places in the country. I’m just telling you.”

“We need to confront violent crime in America,” he continued. “And cities that have abandoned traditional police activities like Baltimore and Chicago, murder rates have surged, particularly in poor neighborhoods.”

ABC News published video of the June 22 “Summer Intern Lecture Series” after a public records request, the network said. The published footage shows DoJ interns taking a sometimes combative stance toward their boss, and Sessions responding in kind.

“The Second Amendment, you’re aware of that?” Sessions told one intern who asked why he favored stricter controls on marijuana than guns.

“Dr. Whatever Your Name Is, you can write the [American Medical Association] and see why they think otherwise,” he added later, referring to the intern’s opinion of marijuana’s health effects.

On legal drugs, though, the attorney general was more lax. When an intern asked what Sessions would do about the role pharmaceutical companies and doctors play in the opioid crisis, Sessions didn’t mention any law enforcement remedies.

“We need doctors to get better informed,” he said. “We need to pharmacies and hospitals to be more careful with containing the sale of those drugs.”

Separately, Sessions told an intern that the Justice Department was committed to protecting the civil rights of “all persons,” including transgender people, and pointed to his instruction to to the DoJ’s Civil Rights Division to look into a spate of murders of transgender people.

That said, in October, the department reversed course from the previous administration, arguing in court that transgender people were not covered by civil rights protections.

Watch the full 25 minute video below, or see clips of select exchanges in ABC News’ report.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Matt Shuham is a news writer for TPM. He was previously assistant editor of The National Memo and managing editor of the Harvard Political Review. He is available by email at mshuham@talkingpointsmemo.com and on Twitter @mattshuham.

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