Sanders on Sessions and Pruitt: ‘Before I vote against them I want to hear what they have to say’

During a town hall hosted by CNN on Monday night, Senator Bernie Sanders was asked by an attendee if he plans on voting to confirm Jeff Sessions — President-elect Trump’s nominee for Attorney General. At the heart of the issue was Sessions’ opposition to the Voting Rights Act. Sanders gave a non-committal response at first, saying he would “listen to what Jeff Sessions has to say,” but noted he has “very very strong concerns.”

It was disappointing to hear Sanders evade the main point of the question, but after moving on to the topic of climate change, it seemed like that issue was over. However, after bringing up Scott Pruitt — a climate change denier and Trump’s pick to head the EPA — moderator Chris Cuomo snuck in another question on how Sanders could entertain voting for either Pruitt or Sessions.

“How do you vote for someone who you think is a climate change denier?” Cuomo asked. “How do you vote for someone in Jeff Sessions who you think may have a problem towards voting rights?”

“Well, you don’t,” Sanders responded. “Look, all I am doing here is trying to be polite… If I said I’m gonna vote against these guys, then his next question would be ‘HOW CAN YOU VOTE AGAINST THEM WHEN THEY HAVEN’T EVEN GONE BEFORE YOU IN A HEARING!? ASK THEM A QUESTION!’ So I’m trying to be polite.

“I’m still confused,” Cuomo interjected. “Are you gonna vote for them or are you gonna vote against them?

“I’m just saying, before I vote against them I want to hear what they have to say,” Sanders replied. Sanders then explained he thinks it’s important to hear the nominees out, even if he’s pretty sure he already knows what they would say.

“So you’re not inclined to vote for them?” Cuomo asked once more.

“Good! Thank you,” Sanders snapped. “You a lawyer?”

So, it would appear Sanders has no plans to vote for either of these picks unless they completely reverse their positions on several key issues in the next few days. Doesn’t seem likely.