Cory Booker, No Longer ‘Mr. Bipartisan’

by Jim Geraghty

Cory Booker, No Longer ‘Mr. Bipartisan’

It looks like New Jersey senator Cory Booker is interested in running for president in 2020. That’s the easiest way to explain a guy whose initial reputation in politics was “Mr. Bipartisan” throwing himself onto the tracks of an oncoming train of an all-but-certain confirmation:

Democratic Sen. Cory Booker is set to testify against Republican Sen. Jeff Sessions Wednesday in an unprecedented move during his attorney general confirmation.

This would be the first time in Senate history that a sitting senator will testify against another sitting senator for a Cabinet post during a confirmation.

“I do not take lightly the decision to testify against a Senate colleague,” Booker said. “But the immense powers of the attorney general combined with the deeply troubling views of this nominee is a call to conscience.”

Of course, it wasn’t that long ago that Sessions and Booker got along pretty well. Back in 2015, the pair introduced legislation to award the Congressional Gold Medal to participants of the 1965 march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama.

“It is fitting that we honor the courage and determination of the civil rights marchers at Selma 50 years ago,” said Senator Sessions. ”This was a truly pivotal event in the drive to achieve the right to vote for all Americans—a right which had systematically been denied. This action was historic and dealt a major blow to the deliberate discrimination that existed, producing a positive and lasting change for America. Those who stood tall for freedom on that fateful day deserve to be honored with the Congressional Gold Medal.”

“We are forever indebted to those brave Americans—men and women of diverse age, color, and creed—who gathered in Selma 50 years ago to march on the frontlines in the fight for equality and justice,” said Senator Booker. ”As an American who stands on the shoulders of their courageous sacrifice, I am proud to honor these unsung heroes who victoriously overcame bigotry and hate by walking in unwavering love and peace.”

Representative John Lewis of Georgia is scheduled to testify against Sessions, as well.  Representative Martha Roby posted photos taken Selma during the ceremony for the 50th Anniversary of “Bloody Sunday,” showing Senator Sessions joining arms with civil rights icon Representative John Lewis and other leaders to cross the Edmund-Pettus Bridge.

Democratic primary voters detest Donald Trump, and they’re likely to feel the same way three years from now. If Booker wants to be the Democratic nominee, he can’t win it as “Mr. Bipartisan.” So we should expect Booker to pursue the Sanders-Howard Dean liberal ideal in the same way he chased the image of being a post-partisan healer, with grand, showy gestures that don’t accomplish much. 

One other indicator of Booker’s not-so-hidden presidential ambitions: He’s doing interviews with New Hampshire radio stations.

The Side of Sessions You Might Not Know

A lot of the coverage of Sessions is going to tell you about his rejection for a federal judgeship and his middle name (“Beauregard”). To their credit, the New York Times did a lengthy profile that showcases Sessions’ better side:

To Alabama voters, weary of decades of Democratic back-scratching and scandals, Mr. Sessions seemed a breath of fresh air when he emerged on the political scene in 1994, after 12 years as the top federal prosecutor in Mobile. As the state’s attorney general, his first elective post, he slashed staff, pay, travel, cars and supplies. Republican leaders hoped he would come to the rescue of the former governor, Guy Hunt, who was removed from office after a 1993 ethics conviction. Instead, Mr. Sessions asked a federal appeals court to uphold the conviction.

… After he was elected senator, taking a seat on the same Judiciary Committee that denied him the judgeship, Mr. Sessions seemed to bear no grudge against those who had humiliated him in 1986. He collaborated with Senator Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts on a bill to reduce prison rape. He also worked with Democrats to correct sentencing disparities that resulted in harsher penalties for those convicted of crimes involving crack cocaine, who were predominately black, than those convicted of powder cocaine, who were more likely to be white.

More Fake News that Didn’t Come From a Teenager in Macedonia

Gizmodo completely drops the ball on a piece headlined, “Trump Is Letting Go the People In Charge of Maintaining Our Nuclear Arsenal.”

The blockbuster charge in the lead paragraph:

According to an official within the Department of Energy, the Trump transition team has declined to ask the head of the National Nuclear Security Administration and his deputy to temporarily stay in their roles after Trump takes office on January 20th.

The unnamed official makes it sound like an unbelievable change:

Trump, however, appears determined to be free of anyone who was appointed by Obama, regardless of whether or not he has anyone in line for the job. Or, as our source put it: “It’s a shocking disregard for process and continuity of government.”

The correction at the bottom of the page:

Another NNSA official, speaking on background to Gizmodo and Defense News, has disputed this report as “inaccurate” while confirming that “there have been no discussions between the president-elect’s transition team and any of NNSA’s political appointees on extending their public service past Jan. 20.” In other words, the Trump transition team has not asked the top two NNSA officials to stay on until they can be replaced.

After speaking to our source for clarification, we have updated the story and headline to reflect that, while Klotz and Creedon have submitted their resignations, intend to depart on January 20, and have not been asked by the Trump transition to stay past that date, the Trump team has not explicitly instructed them to leave or “clean out their desks,” as we reported. According to our source, both officials “have expressed [to the Trump team] that they would likely be willing to stay to facilitate a smooth transition, if asked,” as is the tradition for key officials, and have received no response.

 So basically, nobody’s replied to the standard ‘resignation submitted’ message.

ADDENDA: Urgh. My morning began by awakening at 5 a.m., spending 20 minutes on a 20-degree Metro platform with the wind cutting like a Dorothy Parker insult, rushing to the Acela and finding this was a bad day to skip the usual morning coffee. Hopefully things improve from here. I’m scheduled to appear on CNN International’s “State of the Nation” in the 2 p.m. hour and maybe sometime on CNN domestic if I look sufficiently lonely in the green room.

The Morning Jolt

By Jim Geraghty