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Why The Heck Was Jeff Sessions Hanging Out With This Group?


You’d think our attorney general would have his hands full right now with helping his boss spin Junior’s self-incriminating email woes.  But not so for Jefferson Beauregard Sessions.  He’s got time, and he’s happy to use it to schmooze with alleged hate groups. The group is the Alliance Defending Freedom (“ADF”), which, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, is “a legal advocacy and training group that specializes in supporting the recriminalization of homosexuality abroad, ending same-sex marriage, and generally making life as difficult as possible for LGBT communities in the U.S. and internationally.”

The event Sessions attended was the “Summit on Religious Liberty,” held in Dana Point, California; it aimed to, “develop legal and cultural strategies to allow freedom to flourish in the United States and around the world.”

In other words, it was the kind of thing that you’d find on a list of “Don’ts” for any public figure hoping to be regarded as something other than a hatemonger. Don’t get me wrong. I would absolutely love to hear that Jeff Sessions went out to California with hopes of bringing people together, armed with wise words of tolerance carefully crafted to resonate with the ADF’s members.

Sadly, though, it seems that we’ll never know exactly what Sessions said to the group. The Department of Justice failed to release a transcript of Sessions’ remarks – although it was happy to release transcripts of other speeches Sessions gave recently. A spokesperson for the ADF told ABC News that it was “working through channels” to release Session’s remarks, but gave no other indication about what Sessions actually said. The “Summit” was closed to reporters, so unless an attendee comes forward, it looks like we’ll be left to our best guesses to figure out what Sessions actually said.

Here’s the thing. Session’s choice to hang out with an alleged hate group is either patently disgusting, or the worst PR blunder since someone tweeted out evidence of colluding with Russia to win an election. If the attorney general spoke with the group in an effort to help them learn that gay people are actually people, those remarks would have been smart to publicize. If, as is the more likely case, he tailored his remarks to suit the crowd, he is every bit as awful as so many have suspected all along. Either way, Sessions was way, way out of line. He is not a private citizen. He’s the damn attorney general of the United States. He owes it to all of us to stay the hell away from groups like this. Sessions is welcome to spend time crafting brilliant legal arguments about why bakers shouldn’t be compelled to make cakes for gay weddings, or about how corporations have religious beliefs, but he can do those things without legitimizing what should be fringe groups operating on the margins of our society.

Richard Painter, former George W. Bush‘s chief ethics lawyer said it best:





This is an opinion piece. The views expressed in this article are those of just the author.

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Elura is a columnist and trial analyst for Law & Crime. Elura is also a former civil prosecutor for NYC's Administration for Children's Services, the CEO of Lawyer Up, and the author of How To Talk To Your Lawyer and the Legalese-to-English series. Follow Elura on Twitter @elurananos