Woman Who Laughed at Jeff Sessions Won't Get Jail Time After All

The Department of Justice is backing off its prosecution of a protester who laughed out loud during Jeff Sessions's January confirmation hearing as the attorney general prepares for a new round of questioning related to the ongoing Russia scandal.

The HuffPost reported exclusively Tuesday that the government filed a nolle prosequi on Monday in its case against Desiree Fairooz, an activist with social justice organization Code Pink. That means the Justice Department no longer intends to pursue charges against the former librarian, who has already been convicted once for her behavior during Sessions's questioning earlier this year.

Related: Jeff Sessions Russia allegations could lead to another Senate testimony

"The last 10 months of my life have been somewhat stressful facing trial and the possibility of jail time and a criminal conviction for a chortle so I am greatly relieved that I will not stand trial again,” Fairooz told the HuffPost. "As activists, we cannot be deterred from speaking out against injustice, standing up for our constitutional rights and yes, laughing."

Fairooz was kicked out of the Sessions hearing in January when she chuckled at Senator Richard Shelby, an Alabama Republican, after he bragged Sessions had a history of "treating all Americans equally under the law." Sessions has previously been accused of racism, having at one point referred to the NAACP and the American Civil Liberties Union as un-American and Communist-inspired, and was blocked from becoming a federal judge because of it, according to NPR. (Sessions denied being "insensitive to blacks.")

"I just couldn’t hold it," Fairooz later told The New York Times. "It was spontaneous. It was an immediate rejection of what I considered an outright lie or pure ignorance."

Fairooz grew louder when she was asked to leave and was ultimately arrested. In May, a jury convicted her for disorderly and disruptive conduct and parading or demonstrating on Capitol grounds. But a judge threw out that decision in July and demanded a new trial.

That trial was scheduled for next week.

Sessions may be clearing his schedule, given that he's set to testify before the House Judiciary Committee on November 13, as Reuters reported. The hearing isn't Russia-centric, but he'll probably have to answer questions about the Kremlin's interference in the 2016 election anyway.

Last week, several lawmakers argued Sessions need to be more forthcoming after unsealed records showed his previous statements about not knowing Trump campaign staffers were in touch with Russia were false. George Papadopoulos pleaded guilty recently to lying to FBI agents about his contact with Russians and, in doing so, alleged he'd brought up one such conversation in front of Trump and Sessions.

"Jeff, you need to tell us everything you know about Russia," Senator Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican, told Fox News Sunday. "He probably should come back [to the Senate Judiciary Committee] and answer the question yet again: 'Did you know anything about an effort by the Trump campaign to meet with Russia, not just collude with Russia?'"

Join the Discussion