The Senate Judiciary Committee possibly was to vote on Sessions' nomination at a meeting Tuesday. But Senate Democrats pushed for a delay, so they could have more time to review Sessions' responses on a questionnaire. The vote now is expected to come at the end of this month.
Pryor is among the favorites to replace the late Antonin Scalia on the U.S. Supreme Court. A Los Angeles Times report Tuesday has Colorado federal judge Neil M. Gorsuch as perhaps the new leader for Scalia's seat. But it appears Pryor will be a strong candidate for any SCOTUS openings during the Trump years because of his close ties to Sessions.
How close are Sessions and Pryor, and what is the nature of their relationship? Agents for the Alabama Bureau of Investigation (now the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency, ALEA), observed Sessions making frequent late-night visits in the late 1990s to Pryor's apartment in Montgomery, Alabama, a former law-enforcement official said. (See video, with tape-recorded interview at the end of this post.)
Agents did not observe activity once Sessions was inside the apartment, but his frequent visits heightened officials' concerns that Pryor was laying the groundwork for a run at a federal judgeship and might be subject to blackmail if he obtained such a position.
Why were agents conducting surveillance on Pryor's residence? Sessions, after serving as Alabama's attorney general (1994-96), was elected to the U.S. Senate. That created an opening for a new AG, and Gov. Fob James appointed Pryor, whom Sessions had hired as his deputy. In early 1997, not long after Pryor took office, it was clear to many Alabama politicos that the young and ambitious AG was angling for a seat on the federal bench. That became a concern when law-enforcement officials, working on a tip from an informant, obtained copies of nude photographs of Pryor, taken when he was 18 to 20 years old and a student at Northeast Louisiana University (now University of Louisiana Monroe).
|Bill Pryor, nude and with robe|
(Note: This nude image has been flipped, or reversed, from
the image we have previously run. Our research suggests this
is how the photo originally appeared before being flipped
on its way to badpuppy.com,)
That the photos existed became widely known when we reported on them in September 2013, creating a flood of coverage on the Web largely because of Pryor's strident anti-gay positions. From our original report of September 17, 2013:
Alabama law-enforcement officials became aware of the photos at badpuppy.com in 1997, not long before Governor Fob James appointed Pryor attorney general. An investigation ensued, and multiple officials familiar with that process have told Legal Schnauzer that the photos are, in fact, of the Bill Pryor who now sits on the U.S. Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals. Sources say the photos were taken while Pryor was a student at Northeast Louisiana University (now University of Louisiana Monroe) from 1980 to 1984.
Concerned that Pryor might be subject to blackmail, either as AG or a federal judge, state law-enforcement officials set out to learn more about his lifestyle. That led to surveillance that caught Jeff Sessions coming and going at Pryor's residence at unusually late hours. Says one official involved in the case:
I hadn't heard anything about Sessions being gay, but we did hear and one of my agents picked up on it -- when Pryor was in Montgomery running for the AG slot -- Sessions was AG at the time, we had heard rumors about [Pryor's] lifestyle. He was living in a little garage apartment, I don't remember where . . . The agent reported several late-night visits to Pryor's apartment by Sessions. Those might have been for . . planning. I don't know . . . still. I don't remember anything else that we came up with.
Since that interview, we have become aware of reports that Sessions is gay, and it is a poorly kept secret in political circles. In fact, we recently reported that the Obama administration was prepared to drop the "G bomb" on Sessions (and fellow U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham) if he threatened to block the SCOTUS nomination of Sonia Sotomayor. From that post:
Jeff Sessions, Donald Trump's nominee for U.S. attorney general, is at risk of blackmail because he is a closeted homosexual, according to a published report from 2009.
The Obama administration, in fact, was aware of Sessions' "secret" and held it over his head to ensure he did not block the nomination of Sonia Sotomayor to the U.S. Supreme Court, according to a report at Wayne Madsen Report (WMR). The White House had similar information on U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and was prepared to use it in a similar fashion.
Sessions and Graham had voiced strong opposition to Sotomayor's nomination, but that changed when the White House made it known that it was willing to unload the "G bomb" on both conservative senators if they sought to block her. From the WMR article, titled "The Democratic not-so-secret secret 'nuclear option' on Sotomayor nomination" and dated June 5-7, 2009. Sotomayor was confirmed on August 6, 2009, with only modest opposition from the GOP.
A picture is emerging of Sessions and Pryor as stridently anti-gay, apparently because they hope to mask their own closeted homosexuality. The picture also suggests that Sessions' devotion to Pryor -- he has pushed for his protege's elevation at seemingly every opportunity -- is based on more than Pryor's professional qualifications.
We sought comment from Sessions, via both the contact page on his Web site and his spokesperson, Sarah Isgur Flores. No one responded to our queries
Here is part of our interview with an Alabama law-enforcement official who was at the center of the Pryor/Sessions investigation: