Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who may or may not have recused himself from the investigation into President Donald Trump’s longtime personal lawyer Michael Cohen, recently appeared before the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies to discuss the Justice Department’s budget request — and well, he seems to have kept some rather important information from the panel.
As BuzzFeed News found in its investigation, Sessions has reportedly withheld $254 million in Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grants, which provides funding to state and local jurisdictions, to punish the so-called sanctuary districts that challenged the Trump administration's deportation efforts.
In order to get the funding from the Justice Department, local police and sheriff departments had to comply with certain terms — including notifying the federal authorities if they detain a suspect who turns out to be an undocumented immigrant and then hold them for 48 hours so immigration officials can access those individuals. It also reportedly asked the local law enforcement agencies to share information about immigrants with them.
Unfortunately, a large number of police departments were affected by the Trump administration’s ongoing war against immigrants.
“In more than a dozen interviews this month, police officers, sheriffs and state officials said they’ve been forced to reduce staff, curtail programs or not purchase equipment — in some cases suspending criminal investigations — because Sessions is sitting on their money,” BuzzFeed News reported.
However, when this budget cut was brought up during Sessions’ Senate testimony, he appeared to blame a federal judge for the funding problem.
“It is just maddening to us that people who totally support our ICE officers and allow them to do the minimal things they ask of local enforcement can't get this money," Sessions said.
The thing is, earlier this month, a federal appeals court in Chicago ruled the local governments did not need to comply with certain DoJ conditions to receive the federal grant — a ruling Sessions suggested he would challenge.
“[The court] not only wanted to block us from denying Chicago, the judge issued a nationwide injunction,” the attorney general reportedly told the Senate subcommittee. “All these other people who comply with the Department of Justice, all the other people that have other and different laws and background — enjoined by the same federal judge. Now the whole process has stopped and law enforcement has been impacted, and we are determined to try to deal with this issue in an appropriate way.”
Unlike what Sessions said, the injunction actually applies to the Department of Justice.
“It is painful for me not to see the money go out, particularly the people who want to work with us in every way,” he continued. “I know it's difficult for them. But they have been supportive and understanding. I just have got to say, we are working on it. It's a high priority for me.”
Talk about hypocrisy.
Thumbnail/Banner: Reuters, Yuri Gripas