President Donald Trump will not endorse a bipartisan proposal for prison and sentencing reform following a White House meeting on Thursday with Attorney General Jeff Sessions and his senior adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner, according to administrative sources with knowledge of the matter who told Axios and other media outlets.
Kushner has pushed for prison reform for some time, while Sessions continues to take a hard-line approach of seeking maximum sentences in cases the Justice Department prosecutes. The president previously backed the plan but will reportedly wait until after the midterm elections.
The U.S. House passed the bill back in May, which would provide $50 million each year to the Bureau of Prisons for the next five years to fund education, drug treatment, job skills training and re-entry programs that help people transfer back into society.
By using credits earned through the various programs, inmates would be able to serve a remaining portion of their sentence in a halfway house or home confinement rather than behind bars.
Trump has not yet publicly said which provisions of the reform measure he opposes. While it’s received bipartisan support, some Senate Democrats along with Senate Republican Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley have said it doesn’t go far enough because it fails to address mandatory minimum sentences.
Grassley reportedly wanted to add four measures to the Senate version of the bill: reduce mandatory sentences, prohibit doubling up mandatory sentences for separate crimes, allow judges to give sentences below the mandatory minimums for certain low-level crimes and make the 2010 Fair Sentencing Act retroactive so those currently serving time for crack and powder cocaine charges would not continue to serve unequal sentences, Axios reported.
Trump’s meeting with Sessions and Kushner came after the president again ridiculed Sessions for recusing himself from special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of 2016 Russian election interference during an interview on Fox & Friends that aired Thursday morning.
“Even my enemies say that Jeff Sessions should have told you that he was going to recuse himself and then you wouldn’t have put him in,” Trump said, also claiming that Sessions and the Justice Department have not investigated Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party enough for allegedly spying on his 2016 campaign. There has since been no evidence to suggest such surveillance took place.
“He took the job, and then he said I’m going to recuse myself,” Trump said, referring to Sessions. “I said, ‘What kind of a man is this?'”
The president also asserted Sessions “never took control of the Justice Department.”
Just minutes before Trump’s meeting with Sessions at the White House, the attorney general fired back in a statement that he “took control of the Department of Justice the day I was sworn in.”
“While I am attorney general, the actions of the Department of Justice will not be improperly influenced by political considerations,” Sessions said. “I demand the highest standards, and where they are not met, I take action. However, no nation has a more talented, more dedicated group of law enforcement investigators and prosecutors than the United States.”
SOURCE: Newsweek – Ramsey Touchberry