The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) wants the Senate to question Attorney General Jeff Sessions next week about “his own role with Russia, his role in the Comey firing, and the ongoing investigations into ties with Russia and his recusal,” according to a statement by the organization.
Sessions will appear on Tuesday before the Committee on Appropriations to testify about the Department of Justice budget.
The ACLU says that it is “asking its over 2 million supporters to contact their representatives and urge them to ask Sessions tough questions.”
Asked by Breitbart News what the relevance of the Russia investigation was for civil liberties in the United States, Christopher Anders, deputy director of the ACLU’s legislative office, said: “It’s very fundamental to civil liberties, in that it goes right to the heart of our democracy, in our ability to vote, and that our votes are counted and are meaningful.”
Russia’s hacking — or its attempt to hack — political parties and local voter databases “raises concerns about integrity of voting and integrity of our elections,” Anders said.
Asked whether the ACLU had defended former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, whose telephone calls were under surveillance, and whose name was leaked illegally to the media, Anders acknowledged that the organization had not defended him specifically, adding: “We haven’t accused Michael Flynn of anything, either.”
The ACLU had, Anders pointed out, raised the general issue of surveillance, and was concerned about the re-authorization of Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which is thought to be the provision under which Flynn’s communications were intercepted.
“We have said there is a good reason to be concerned,” Anders told Breitbart News. “President Trump is raising a legitimate issue of concern about Americans’ communications being surveilled, and they shouldn’t be, absent a specific warrant.”
In recent months, the ACLU has adopted an aggressive stance against the Trump administration, one very close to the partisan positions of the Democratic Party. It has also organized “Resistance training” workshops for activists opposed to the Trump administration’s policies.
Noted civil libertarian Alan Dershowitz wrote last month in the Wall Street Journal:
The ACLU was once a nonpartisan organization focused on liberty and equality before the law. In recent years it has chosen its battles with an increasingly left-wing sensibility. In doing so, it has become considerably more equivocal and sometimes even hostile toward core civil liberties concerns of free speech and due process.
But Anders defended the group’s record, noting that it had supported Republicans like Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) on civil liberties issues, and opposed certain policies of Democratic administrations in the past.
He stressed the ACLU’s commitment to defending the Constitution. “That’s what we’re here to do, regardless of who’s in power.”
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He was named one of the “most influential” people in news media in 2016. He is the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.