Bribery Trial Reveals Jeff Sessions’ Role in Blocking EPA Action Targeting One of His Biggest Donors | Mother Jones

Nick Schwellenbach, Russ Choma and Adam Zagorin | Mother Jones | 02/08/2018

His Senate office coordinated closely with Drummond Coal and its lawyers to derail an environmental cleanup.

When a coal executive and two lawyers stood trial in Alabama last month for bribery and related crimes, it was clear from the start that things might get uncomfortable for Jeff Sessions. The attorney general’s name, after all, appeared on a list of possible witnesses.

Though he was never called to the stand, detailed references to Sessions and key members of his staff thread their way through the record of the four-week trial, which concluded on July 20 when David Roberson, vice president of Drummond Coal, and Joel Gilbert, a partner in the Birmingham-based law firm Balch & Bingham, were found guilty of paying off an Alabama lawmaker to oppose a federal environmental cleanup effort that could have cost Drummond millions. (The judge dismissed the charges against a second Balch lawyer, Steve McKinney.)

Sessions has long had close ties to Balch and Drummond—the companies respectively ranked as his second- and third-biggest contributors during his Senate career, collectively donating nearly a quarter of a million dollars to his campaigns. And as Mother Jones and the Project on Government Oversight have previously reported, then-Sen. Sessions directly intervened with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to block the cleanup at the center of the federal bribery case.