Sessions, Christie say US not facing 'constitutional crisis'
LAS VEGAS (AP) - Former Attorney General Jeff Sessions and former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie say a move by U.S. House Democrats to hold Attorney General William Barr in contempt does not create a "constitutional crisis," as one key Democratic lawmaker claimed.
Sessions and Christie spoke about special counsel Robert Mueller's report into Russian interference in the 2016 election and Barr's handling of the report at a conference in Las Vegas on Wednesday.
Their comments came hours before the U.S. House Judiciary Committee voted to hold Barr in contempt for failing to release the full report and underlying evidence.
The contempt resolution, which moves to the full House for consideration, followed comments from House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler of New York that the dispute over the report presents a "constitutional crisis."
Sessions disagreed. "We're not even close to it," he said, and joked about it being "an exciting time."
The former Alabama senator, sitting on stage with Christie at a conference organized by former White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci, said there have been "squabbles" for years between Congress and the Department of Justice and the current situation was another example of a "squabble."
"Maybe it can be worked out. Usually those things are worked out. They're co-equal branches," Sessions said.
Christie, a former federal prosecutor, noted there is precedent for a sitting attorney general to be held in contempt, pointing out that in 2012, the House held then-Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt over a bungled firearm-tracking operation called Fast and Furious.
"So if that wasn't a constitutional crisis this certainly is not a constitutional crisis," Christie said.
Both Sessions and Christie brushed aside President Donald Trump's repeated comments on Twitter referring to the Mueller probe as a "treasonous hoax."
Sessions, who was fired by Trump, called hoax "a strong word" but said, "that's his language and we've all gotten used to it by now."
"The president says lots of things and there's lots of things the president says that I wish he wouldn't say," Christie said.
Christie said Trump's criticism of Mueller is "just another day" and he didn't understand why anyone would be surprised by it.
"He is at core a salesman who uses hyperbole to try to convince people of his position," Christie said.
Sessions and Christie were among a cadre of people from Trump's world speaking at the conference.
Stephen Moore, a conservative commentator who last week withdrew from consideration to be Trump's nominee for the Federal Reserve Board, also appeared on a panel Wednesday about the board, and former White House Chief of Staff and Homeland Security Secretary John F. Kelly was expected to speak Wednesday night about public service.
Trump's Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson, former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley, former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski and former campaign adviser David Bossie were scheduled to make appearances Thursday.
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