The red line that Senate Republicans drew last year against President Trump firing Attorney General Jeff Sessions is beginning to dissolve.
Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA), who oversees the committee that would advance the confirmation of Sessions’ replacement, said Thursday he’d have time to consider such a nomination, after last summer declaring his 2017 agenda too full to move such a confirmation.
“I do have time for hearings on nominees that the president might send up here that I didn’t have last year,” Grassley told Bloomberg.
Grassley is ostensibly frustrated with Sessions’ undermining of bipartisan sentencing reform legislation he’s pushing. However, his comments come as the Justice Department this week secured a trial conviction and a guilty plea, respectively, from Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort and the President’s longtime fixer, Michael Cohen. The latter’s crimes— including campaign finance law violations for hush money paid out to alleged former paramours of the President — directly implicated Trump.
Grassley’s colleague on the Judiciary Committee, Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-SC), also told Bloomberg it’s “very likely” Sessions will be out the door in the months to come, though preferably not before the November midterms.
“The president’s entitled to an attorney general he has faith in, somebody that’s qualified for the job, and I think there will come a time, sooner rather than later, where it will be time to have a new face and a fresh voice at the Department of Justice,” Graham said. “Clearly, Attorney General Sessions doesn’t have the confidence of the president.”
Graham may be the chair of the Judiciary Committee next year, with Grassley reportedly eying the chair of the Finance Committee, where the current chairman, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) is retiring after the 2018 election.