I have an observation about Attorney General Jeff Sessions following his testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee this afternoon:
He’s just not a very good witness. To be clear, I don’t think he’s a bad guy, but he’s not nearly as quick on his feet as I’d expect an experienced litigator to be. There were times throughout his testimony when he was attempting to walk a very fine line — and it showed. He wobbled like a novice tightrope walker.
In his defense, years as a litigator doesn’t guarantee skill and finesse when one is on the receiving end of interrogation and intense scrutiny. At a minimum, though, I would expect him to recognize what sorts of responses look bad on the part of a witness and largely avoid them.
For instance, there clearly were some areas where he intended not to testify, most notably in relation to questions concerning conversations he had with President Trump and other DOJ officials. Others will surely argue back and forth for the next 24-48 hours regarding whether a privilege — or, at least, a reasonable expectation of confidentiality –protects such conversations from discovery in a Congressional hearing such as this, but regardless of one’s position on the issue, Sessions knew ahead of time he’d be declining to answer certain questions. He should have had a comfortably-rehearsed, consistent response to any such questions and simply repeated it, rather than hemming and hawing around it each time.
Moreover, he had to know he’d face some withering questions from the Democrats on the committee, yet in the face of Kamala Harris’
filibustering cross-examination, Sessions at one point became visibly flustered, responding, “I’m not able to…uh…be rushed this fast — it makes me nervous.”
I recognize he’s human, but he’s the Attorney General of the United States with years of litigation experience. Cowed and uncertain just isn’t a good look.
I’ll give him this — he did show some teeth during Ron Wyden’s questioning.
Ooooh snap. Sessions wasn't joking when he talked about defending his honor. Wyden basically just got called "sirrah".
— Caleb Howe (@CalebHowe) June 13, 2017
Overall, though, he came off as dissembling. Which, while I don’t think it causes further damage to the administration, really doesn’t help it at all.