Bench Memos

Cruz and Kirsanow Correct the Record

Democratic Senators were unable to get a foothold against Sessions yesterday, yet they seem to think that they can make something out of a voter fraud case that Sessions prosecuted over thirty years ago. The facts, once again, demonstrate Sessions’s integrity and overwhelming qualifications for the position of Attorney General.

Peter Kirsanow, member of the US Commission on Civil Rights, stated that “if [Sessions] had failed to prosecute the Perry County case, that would have been an extraordinary dereliction of duty.” He also cited Craig Donsanto, former head of the public integrity unit of the DOJ who told Sessions to go forward with this, stating that experts and other contemporary witnesses believed that “this was a classic case of voter nullification.”

Senator Cruz also called out the left’s misrepresentation of the Perry case. He asked David Cole, National Legal Director of the ACLU, “why did you omit the fact that the complaint came from African American citizens, from elected African American incumbent politicians, and the indictment came from a grand jury that was a majority African American? Why did you omit those facts?”

Cole responded: “I don’t think I intentionally omitted those facts, Senator Cruz. What I did was to express our concerns about several aspects of that case.” He all but ceded to Senator Cruz’s admonition, but he proceeded to mischaracterize the record, citing only limited and selective facts. Senator Cruz quickly seized upon this, stating “any law student or any litigant who presented such a one-sided picture of that facts, conveniently omitting every single fact that is to the contrary, would not be treated as a credible witness and would not be treated, as you describe in your testimony, as strictly nonpartisan.”

The facts of this case, and the obvious problem therein, are quite simple. As Kirsanow explained, “[y]ou had two separate factions of Black Democrats in Perry County who were vying for seats. One faction went to the US attorney’s office and said ‘wait a minute, we believe that there is rampant voter fraud going on here.’” It had appeared that voters were encouraged to vote via absentee ballots, and that these votes were either changed or forged by members one of the two factions.

Here is an image of one of the ballots from that case:

The image includes text from a deposition of one witness who stated that this was her ballot and that she “didn’t mark anything out.” The witness was asked to verify the obvious fact that there were names marked out on this ballot, and she verified that she had not marked them out, and that she had not authorized anyone else to do so. Anybody can easily see that this absentee ballot had been tampered with. Democratic senators who are trying to besmirch Sen. Sessions’s prosecuting this case are fighting against their own cause. Sen. Sessions brought this case in 1985, during his days as US Attorney of Western Alabama, in order to protect the right of those Black Democrats in Perry County to vote for the person of their choice. Based on the evidence, Sessions prosecuted three people who he believed had changed the votes of their neighbors’ absentee ballots.

The above ballot is not one of a kind. “If you look at the FBI’s affidavit related to this they found 75 forged signatures on absentee ballots” said Kirsanow. “There were multiple counts where there were individuals, who were part of, or candidates, who were taking absentee ballots, changing them, altering them, or filling them out on behalf of individuals, and then giving them to the elections board.” In fact, one person had voted for their cousin, but their vote was changed. Three people were indicted for various counts surrounding a voting fraud scheme. However,  most of the witnesses changed their testimony under pressure. As a result many counts were dismissed during trial, and the jury acquitted defendants of the remainder.

The son of one of the defendants in the case, Albert Turner Jr., has even come out in favor of Senator Sessions, stating:

“My differences in policy and ideology with him do not translate to personal malice. He is not a racist. As I have said before, at no time then or now has Jeff Sessions said anything derogatory about my family. He was a prosecutor at the Federal level with a job to do.  He was presented with evidence by a local District Attorney that he relied on, and his office presented the case.  That’s what a prosecutor does.  I believe him when he says that he was simply doing his job.”

Charged with ensuring “that the laws be faithfully executed,” US Attorneys work to enforce federal laws throughout the country. As Attorney General, Sessions will do just that. The facts of the Perry County case fully support the conclusion evident from the hearings that Sessions will faithfully execute the law with integrity and equality.

As Kirsanow stated at the conclusion of his remarks today, “the facts of the case establish that, had a prosecutor not taken this and pursued this, there would have been some serious questions about his integrity.” Bravo, Senator Sessions.

Carrie Severino — Carrie Severino is chief counsel and policy director to the Judicial Crisis Network.

Most Popular

Elections

In Defense of the Electoral College

Senator Elizabeth Warren has joined a growing chorus within the Democratic party in calling for the abolition of the Electoral College. Speaking at a forum in Mississippi on Monday night, Warren said that she hoped to ensure that “every vote matters” and proposed that “the way we can make that happen is ... Read More
Elections

Stick a Fork in O’Rourke

If, as I wrote last week here, Joe Biden may save the Democratic party from a horrible debacle at the polls next year, Beto O’Rourke may be doing the whole process a good turn now. Biden, despite his efforts to masquerade as the vanguard of what is now called progressivism, is politically sane and, if ... Read More
National Security & Defense

In Defense of the Iraq War

Today is the 16th anniversary of the invasion of Iraq, and Twitter is alive with condemnations of the conflict -- countered by precious few defenses. Yet I believed the Iraq War was just and proper in 2003, and I still believe that today. When Donald Trump condemned the war during the 2015 primary campaign and ... Read More
U.S.

The War on Red Caps Roars On

Three recent prosecutions suggest that President Trump’s supporters who have endured abuse and violence for wearing “Make America Great Again” hats will receive justice. Police arrested Ryan M. Salvagno, 19, of Somerset, N.J., on February 27. Two days earlier, authorities say, he hounded an ... Read More