Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) on Friday labeled Attorney General Jeff SessionsJeff SessionsSchatz: Sessions remark about judge ‘an insult’ to Hawaiians Sessions praises NY’s criminal justice efforts amid ‘soft on crime’ spat De Blasio, NYPD chief slam Justice Dept. for ‘outrageous’ crime claim MORE‘ remark about a Hawaii judge an “insult” to the residents of his state.
Sessions sparked a wave of backlash on Wednesday after he dismissed a ruling against President Trump’s travel ban as an action of “a judge sitting on an island in the Pacific.”
“[T]his is an insult to the people of Hawaii. We are an island chain. We are not one island,” Schatz said in a CNN interview. “And the way he seems to characterize our federal judge and our American taxpayers is that somehow we’re less legitimate than the rest of the country.”
“We’re very proud of who we are and what we contribute to the country, so I won’t dwell on that except to say that Jeff Sessions doesn’t get it,” he added.
The Democratic senator stressed that the most “troubling aspect” of the attorney general’s remark was the critique of the judiciary.
“Maybe the most troubling aspect of this is that this is part of a pattern of this administration attacking the judiciary,” he said.
“The problem when you are the chief law enforcement officer in the country and the head lawyer for the United States of America is you have to respect the rue of law and the rules of the game,” he added.
In an interview with a conservative radio host Mark Levin on Wednesday, Sessions said he was dismayed that the federal judge in Hawaii had the power to halt the president’s apparent constitutional authority.
“I really am amazed that a judge sitting on an island in the Pacific can issue an order that stops the president of the United States from what appears to be clearly his statutory and constitutional power,” Sessions said.
Sessions defended his criticism earlier Friday, saying, “We’re going to defend the president’s order. We believe it’s constitutional. We believe there’s specific statutory authority for everything in that order.”