Last year, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) said he wouldn’t have time to consider new candidates for attorney general. In a tweet he claimed that his committee’s schedule “is set for rest of 2017” and there was “no way” the committee would have time to consider nominees to replace Jeff Sessions.
But this year, Grassley says his schedule has freed up.
“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 Thursday.
Why the shift?
This morning, we got what appears to be part of the answer from Politico: Grassley’s mad at Sessions for not backing his efforts on criminal justice reform. The same goes for Lindsey Graham (R-SC), who may take over Grassley’s job next year. Graham and Grassley support changing sentencing requirements in a way that Sessions, a criminal justice hardliner, opposes. Grassley in particular is a proponent of easing mandatory-minimum sentences for nonviolent drug offenders.
The fact that Sessions will not support their efforts has reportedly made Graham more susceptible to the president’s lobbying efforts on Sessions; Politico reported that Grassley has not gotten a call from the White House, but has remained frustrated with Sessions since a spat over sentencing reform last winter.
Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump support Graham and Grassley on criminal justice reform, and that has also led them to sour on Sessions. Though, presumably, the President’s frustration about the Russia probe is also on their minds.