Chuck Grassely Tells Sessions to ‘Stay Out’ of Prison Overhaul Debate

(Bloomberg) -- Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley told Attorney General Jeff Sessions in blunt terms to butt out of the debate over criminal justice overhaul, saying he’s helped save Sessions’s job when he’s been under fire by President Donald Trump.

The Iowa Republican has moved a bipartisan bill through his committee to rework laws on sentencing for nonviolent drug offenders and overhaul prison practices to reduce recidivism. He said he’s made “great progress” in getting White House support.

"At least there seems to be an interest on the part of the White House now to keeping the bills together," Grassley said Thursday.

Sessions has blasted the portion of the plan that would give judges more leeway to reduce sentences for nonviolent drug crimes, calling it a “grave error.” That’s been the source of a months-long dispute between Grassley and the nation’s chief law enforcement officer.

"With all that I have done to help Sessions to keep the president from firing him, I think Sessions ought to stay out of this," Grassley said. “June of last year, the suggestion was coming, and I told the White House, I don’t have time to have a hearing on a new attorney general.”

Trump has publicly criticized his attorney general for recusing himself from the investigation into Russian election meddling and whether anyone in Trump’s presidential campaign conspired in that effort.

Trump hosted a group of pastors at the White House on Wednesday to discuss efforts on prisons and met with four Republican senators on the issue, including Grassley.

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