Hold Sen. Jeff Sessions accountable for sanctioning sexual assault
After months of standing by Donald Trump despite his racist, sexist, xenophobic and violent rhetoric, some hypocritical Republican politicians are finally distancing themselves from Trump after The Washington Post published recordings of Trump boasting about serial sexual assault last week.
Yet one prominent right-wing Republican Senator – Alabama’s Jeff Sessions – is moving toward Trump, not away. In fact, Sessions seems to be so committed to being Trump’s lapdog that he’s willing to sanction sexual assault.
Sessions is one of Trump’s most visible surrogates. When he was asked whether the behavior described by Trump constituted sexual assault, he unbelievably said: “I don’t characterize that as sexual assault. I think that’s a stretch. I don’t know what he meant.”1
Giving such horrific license to a sexual predator is not surprising from Sessions, who has a history of legislating in ways detrimental to women’s rights. But we can’t let him keep getting away with it. With Senate Republican leaders scrambling to separate themselves from Trump’s misogyny, it’s time to demand they hold Sen. Sessions publicly and visibly accountable by removing him from positions of influence and leadership in the Senate.
Tell Senate Republican leaders to strip Sessions of all of his committee responsibilities and assignments.
If Republicans really care about women like they say they do, then why do they elevate misogynists to leadership positions and block legislation to expand women’s rights? The Republican-led “war on women” has severely restricted access to reproductive health care in states across the country. Republicans in Congress refuse to expand paid family leave or help pass the Military Justice Improvement Act, a bill that would protect survivors of sexual assault in the military. It’s a record that speaks for itself and shows that their outrage at Trump’s comments are sheer hypocrisy.
Sessions has a long history of playing politics with women’s health and safety. He has consistently voted for the most extreme anti-abortion measures that come before the Senate. In 2009, he voted against the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. In 2012, he voted against the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act because of an amendment that extended protections to LGBTQ people. Last year, Sen. Sessions joined anti-women extremists in another failed attempt to pass legislation that would defund Planned Parenthood nationally.2 On Tuesday, in response to the public outrage over his remarks, he issued a statement saying that “assault is unacceptable,” but failed to acknowledge that kissing a woman or grabbing her genitals without consent is assault or to condemn Trump for bragging about committing it.3
Sessions is a senior member of the Senate Judiciary Committee and the Senate Subcommittee on Crime and Terrorism, the governing body that oversees the Office of Violence Against Women. He is responsible for protecting women across the country from gender-based violence and deciding on judicial nominations for courts across the country. Each of these committee assignments gives him an opportunity to make sexist and misogynistic policy on behalf of the Republican party.
Republican leaders who want to prove their party is not at war with women have a choice: They can denounce misogyny only when it’s easy, like when Trump’s campaign is collapsing before their eyes, or take real responsibility for the misogyny within their party and start making change. If they fail to hold Sessions accountable, their choice, and their hypocrisy, will be even more clear.
Tell Senate Republican leaders to strip Sen. Sessions of all of his committee responsibilities and assignments.
Thank you for standing up against anti-women politicians.
- Sean Sullivan, “Trump Supporter Sen. Jeff Sessions reportedly said behavior Trump described in 2005 video is not sexual assault,” The Washington Post, Oct. 10, 2016.
- Howard Koplowitz, “Sessions wants GOP to grow a backbone on Planned Parenthood: ‘I’ve never seen a more supine Congress,'” AL.com, Sept. 21, 2015.