On Monday, New Jersey Senator Cory Booker announced that he will break longstanding Senate tradition on Wednesday by testifying against his colleague, Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions, during Session’s confirmation hearing for U.S. attorney general.
“Concretely, I’m breaking a pretty long Senate tradition by actually being a sitting senator testifying against another sitting senator,” Booker told MSNBC’s Chris Hayes on Monday. “Please, understand. I think these are extraordinary times and they call for extraordinary measures.”
Booker emphasized, “I’ll be testifying against my current colleague.”
Booker’s move is believed to be the first time that a sitting senator has testified against a colleague during a cabinet nomination hearing.
1st time in history: sitting Senator will testify against a colleague. In words of MLK: injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere
— Sen. Cory Booker (@SenBooker) January 10, 2017
“There’s a whole spectrum of things that Jeff Session’s own words represent a real threat to vulnerable populations in this country, and that is something that I feel necessary to do everything that I can to speak against,” Booker declared.
“We’ve seen already in this country that we are at a strike point around issues of policing, around issues of civil rights, around issues of gay and lesbian equality within our country,” Booker argued, referencing in turn the “Black Lives Matter” movement and the movement for LGBT “rights.” Booker argued that Sessions stood against each of these movements. “He has a posture and a positioning that I think represent a real danger to our country.
The New Jersey senator also warned that, if Sessions were to become attorney general, the Trump administration might crack down on marijuana legalization in the states. “Please understand that every state that has medical marijuana or is looking to legalize is in violation of federal law,” Booker said. “The Obama administration chose not to enforce that, and the next administration could change their position and literally drag people to federal court who are participating in those state legal activities.”
As a former U.S. attorney, Sessions has taken strongly conservative stances on criminal justice issues and immigration.
Booker, who may have his eye on a 2020 presidential bid, emphasized the unprecedented nature of this move.