Those who have lived in Alabama for years and are familiar with Sessions' underhanded nature, know it would be improper to compare him to a worm. Many worms probably live most of their lives without harming another living being. Based on a report last week from The Guardian, the same cannot be said of Jeff Sessions.
When Sessions was U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Alabama (appointed by Ronald Reagan and serving from 1982 to 1991), he became known for prosecuting individuals based on politics. Perhaps the best known case involved the 1989 race for mayor of Mobile and a Democrat named Lambert Mims. From The Guardian article, by reporters Jon Swaine and Oliver Laughland:
Arthur Outlaw wanted a second term.
It was 1989 and Outlaw, the Republican mayor of Mobile, Alabama, was girding himself for his re-election campaign. Word was that Lambert Mims, a popular local Democrat, would run against him. Some Republicans were growing skittish.
But a close friend of Outlaw’s had something planned. The friend had been president of the state Young Republicans, chairman of the regional GOP, then a senior official in the Mobile County Republican party. And now he was the top federal prosecutor in southern Alabama.
“Jeff says that Mims won’t be around by that time,” an Outlaw aide said ominously, while discussing the election at a City Hall meeting that February, according to a sworn affidavit from an official who was in the room.
A few months later, Mims confirmed that he would be challenging Outlaw. Then Jeff Sessions made his move.
What move did Sessions make? He wielded his prosecutorial power for political reasons. If Americans are troubled by Sessions' apparent perjury before Congress, they should be worried out of their minds about his history as an unethical prosecutor. From The Guardian:
Sessions, then the US attorney for Alabama’s southern district, indicted Mims on criminal corruption charges relating to obscure four-year-old negotiations over a planned recycling plant. Mims was the ninth notable Democrat in the area to be indicted by Sessions since the young Republican was appointed by President Ronald Reagan. He would not be the last.
Opponents concluded that Sessions used his federal prosecutor’s office, and the FBI agents who worked for him, as political weapons, according to more than half a dozen veterans of Mobile’s 1980s legal and political circles. Some alleged in court filings that the ambitious young Republican actually worked from a “hit list” of Democratic targets.
“Sessions was a gun for hire,” said Tom Purvis, a former sheriff of Mobile County, “and he went after political enemies.” Purvis was acquitted of charges against him that Sessions oversaw after Purvis unseated another Outlaw ally from the elected sheriff’s position.
Let those two highlighted sections sink in for a moment. Mims was the ninth major Democrat in the Mobile area to be indicted by Sessions, and based on court pleadings, Sessions worked from a "hit list" of Democratic parties. Prosecutorial misconduct does not get much uglier than that.
Bolstering the claims are the remarkably thin prosecution cases brought by Sessions against some of those Democrats he indicted, which are detailed across thousands of pages of archived court filings that were reviewed by the Guardian.
Sessions had no direct evidence that Mims had committed a crime. The recycling plant was never even built. “I’ve never seen such a flimsy, weak case as this against anybody,” Mims’s attorney said in court.
Still, Sessions’s office, which boasted a 95% conviction rate, persuaded a jury to find Mims guilty. Mims, a 60-year-old lay preacher, sobbed through his trial. He cried when he was convicted, then cried again when he was sentenced to 10 years in prison. “I will go to my grave proclaiming my innocence,” Mims told Judge Charles Butler.
The Guardian provides details on at least four other cases where Sessions made dubious use of his prosecutorial powers for political reasons. Reading about those cases should scare the living daylights out of any American, of any political persuasion, who cares about justice.
Much has been made of Donald Trump's apparent unfitness to serve as president. Jeff Sessions might be every bit as unfit to serve as attorney general.