JUST NOW: On Sessions attorney general nomination: “I must vote no.” pic.twitter.com/lfQnX5Khug— Sen Dianne Feinstein (@SenFeinstein) January 31, 2017
Though it was unclear if Senator Dianne Feinstein was going to extend a courtesy to Republicans and help confirm President Trump's controversial nominee for attorney general, Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions, she announced Tuesday in her role as ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee that she would be voting against Sessions's confirmation. Saying that an attorney general needed to enforce the nation's laws regardless of the will of the White House, per NBC News, Feinstein said, "I have no confidence that Sen. Sessions will do that. Instead, he has been the fiercest, the most dedicated, the most loyal [supporter] of the Trump agenda."
Also, as the Associated Press quotes her as saying, Feinstein said she couldn't reconcile the independence required of the job "with the partisanship this nominee has exhibited."
Sessions's nomination comes up for a vote just as there is widespread backlash over the president's sweeping executive order on immigration and basic travel from seven Muslim-majority nations, and questions about the constitutionality of said ban and less than 24 hours after the president fired Acting Attorney General Sally Yates for her stance against the ban.
Previously Feinstein took time just prior to surgery to get a pacemaker installed two weeks ago to give some harsh opening remarks at the beginning of the committee's hearing on Sessions's nomination. She said at the time "the job of the attorney general is to enforce federal law, even if he voted against a law, even if he spoke against it before it passed, even if he disagrees with the precedent saying that the law is constitutional." (But in votes on some other Trump nominees, as Chron columnist David Talbot notes with disgust, Feinstein has voted to confirm the likes of Mike Pompeo as CIA director and John Kelly as Homeland Security director.)
Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy also said Tuesday morning that he would not be voting for Sessions, however much of this is ceremonial as Sessions's nomination is still expected to pass through via the Republican majority on the committee, and with a 52-seat majority in the full senate, the GOP is expected to approve his nomination along party lines.
Meanwhile, Democrats on the Finance Committee sought to stall two other of Trump's nominations by failing to appear for votes on Tuesday. As the New York Times reports, votes were scheduled today on the confirmations of treasury secretary nominee Steven Mnuchin and secretary of health and human services nominee Tom Price, but those votes will now be delayed as Democratic Senators demand more information on the nominees.