The context of Sen. Jeff Sessions' confirmation hearings for attorney general are "changing by the minute" following the release of an unsubstantiated report alleging Russia compiled compromising information about President-elect Donald Trump and his staff, Sen. Dick Durbin said Wednesday.
"We were focusing on the values of Jeff Sessions and asking questions and bringing up issues in the past and the current time, but during the course of this hearing these disclosures about what our relationship with Russia, what their involvement was in the last campaign, and the relationship with the president-elect raised this to a different level," the Illinois Democrat told MSNBC's "Morning Joe" program. "These are fundamental issues we need to have answers because the allegations, even though unconfirmed, are serious."
During Tuesday's hearing, Durbin argued with Sessions after he said Congress should work together while passing immigration reform, telling him he had opposed other efforts to do that, reports the Huffington Post.
"There is not a spot of evidence in your public career to suggest that as attorney general you would use the authority of that office to resolve the challenges of our broken immigration system in a fair and humane manner," Durbin told Sessions during the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing. "Tell me I'm wrong."
Durbin said he also has spoken privately with Sessions about national voter restrictions and ID laws, and told MSNBC on Wednesday that efforts at voter suppression are "not based on voter fraud."
"I made this point to him in private meetings," Durbin said. "Nobody can vote to the incidents of voter fraud that justifies these burdens on the electorate. What they are doing is trying to discourage people and as was found in one state, it's precise to go after people who are poor and minorities and that's the reality and I don't believe Sen. Sessions accepts that."
Durbin said he also finds it tough to accept Sessions' appearance of moderation on immigration, as he served with him for more than 20 years in the Senate.
"I heard his speeches and we debated one another and we worked on some things together, don't get me wrong, and on the issue of immigration, he didn't back off an inch yesterday," said Durbin, "and 8,000 DREAMers could be subject to immediate deportation."
Sessions did not offer a solution, Durbin said, that showed "any humility or concern."
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