Friday July 20th, 2018 1:57PM

Trump selects Sen. Jeff Sessions as US attorney general

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

WASHINGTON (AP) — President-elect Donald Trump has selected Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions as his pick for attorney general, signaling a sharp break in philosophical direction from the Obama administration's Justice Department.

The pick was disclosed Friday by a senior Trump official who wasn't authorized to speak publicly about it. The official wouldn't say whether Sessions had accepted the job, leaving open the possibility that the appointment wasn't final.

Sessions, the first senator to endorse Trump and a Republican known for his support of tough immigration enforcement policies, would likely bring to the department a consistently conservative voice. The former federal prosecutor has questioned whether terrorism suspects should receive the protection of the American court system, objected to the planned closure of the Guantanamo Bay detention facility and has given prominence to the specter of voting fraud, a problem that current Justice Department leadership believes is negligible.

Sessions, 69, would face a confirmation hearing before his peers on the Senate Judiciary Committee, likely in January. His last confirmation hearing, in 1986 for a federal judgeship, was derailed over allegations that he made racist comments.

The committee's Republican chairman, Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, praised Sessions as someone who worked "across the aisle on major legislation" and said he was confident he'd be approved by the panel. The committee's top Democrat, Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy, said he's disagreed over the years with Sessions on civil rights, immigration and other issues and that "the American people deserve to learn about Senator Sessions' record."

As attorney general for a president who campaigned on a "law and order" stance, Sessions is likely to depart from the priorities of his predecessors in the Obama administration, Loretta Lynch and Eric Holder.

Civil rights advocates who have seen their causes championed at the Justice Department for the last eight years have already raised concerns that a Trump administration would scale back those efforts, which have included forcing police departments to correct unconstitutional practices and suing North Carolina over a bathroom bill that officials said discriminated against transgender individuals.

Sessions has previously said a "properly exercised" Civil Rights Division "provides tremendous benefit to American citizens" but should not be used as "a sword to assert inappropriate claims that have the effect of promoting political agendas."

It's impossible to predict what actions Sessions would take as attorney general, but his questioning of current and former Justice Department officials offer clues about his perspective on some issues.

He's shown particular interest in national security, arguing as recently as June that the federal government is unable to fully vet refugees from countries including Syria.

Sessions has said the Obama administration's counterterrorism policies had "emboldened our enemies" and failed to address border control, claiming that hundreds of foreign-born individuals have been charged with acts of terrorism since Sept. 11, 2001. But the culprit of the deadliest such attack in that period, a nightclub shooting in Orlando this year, was born in the United States.

Sessions has warned against the administration's efforts to close Guantanamo and has condemned the administration's decision to afford the legal protections of American courts to terror detainees. And he's been protective of certain surveillance powers, telling Holder in one committee hearing that when it comes to warrantless wiretapping, "we've exaggerated the extent to which this is somehow violative of our Constitution."

Sessions was nominated in 1981 by President Ronald Reagan to be the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Alabama. He was elected state attorney general in 1995 and joined the Senate two years later.

The last time he faced Senate confirmation, things did not go well.

In 1986, the Judiciary Committee voted against confirming him for a federal judgeship after he was accused of making racially charged remarks while U.S. attorney in Alabama. Sessions later withdrew from consideration.

According to transcripts of the hearings, Sessions was accused of calling the NAACP and the ACLU "un-American, Communist-inspired organizations," joking that he thought was the Ku Klux Klan "was OK" until he learned they smoked marijuana, and calling a black assistant U.S. attorney "boy."

Sessions' record as a U.S. attorney was heavily criticized by then-Sen. Edward Kennedy, a Democrat, who said he was unqualified to be a federal judge because of his attitude toward black people.

"Mr. Sessions is a throwback to a shameful era which I know both black and white Americans thought was in our past. It is inconceivable to me that a person of this attitude is qualified to be a U.S. attorney, let alone a U.S. federal judge," Kennedy said. "He is, I believe, a disgrace to the Justice Department and he should withdraw his nomination and resign his position."

During the hearing, Sessions denied making some of the comments and said others were jokes that had been taken out of context. He said he didn't mean any harm by the comment about the NAACP.


Associated Press writer Chad Day contributed to this report.

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP Online Headlines - Washington, AP Online Congress News
© Copyright 2018
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Revelers say goodbye to a year of conflicts, deadly violence
People around the world are bidding a weary adieu to a year filled with political surprises, prolonged conflicts, deadly attacks at gatherings and celebrity deaths
11:58PM ( 10 months ago )
Get ready for a blockbuster sequel: Alabama vs. Clemson
Get ready for a blockbuster sequel: Alabama vs. Clemson, The Rematch
11:31PM ( 10 months ago )
With Ohio State shutout, Clemson earns another shot at 'Bama
Clemson's redemption: By shutting out Ohio State, the Tigers earn another shot at 'Bama
11:25PM ( 10 months ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Trump says he doesn't trust computers as he rings in 2017
President-elect Donald Trump says that "no computer is safe" when it comes to keeping information private
10:46PM ( 10 months ago )
New UN chief wants consensus but faces antagonistic Trump
Antonio Guterres took the reins of the United Nations on New Year's Day, promising to be a "bridge-builder" but facing an antagonistic incoming U.S. administration led by Donald Trump who thinks the world body's 193 member states do nothing except talk
9:39PM ( 10 months ago )
Trump ditches media for golf game, offers New Year's wishes
President-elect Donald Trump has ditched his press pool once again, traveling to play golf at one of his clubs without a pool of journalists on hand to ensure the public has knowledge of his whereabouts
3:58PM ( 10 months ago )
AP Online Headlines - Washington
Some power restored to North Carolina's gov.-elect _ for now
A North Carolina judge granted a small victory to the state's incoming Democratic governor on Friday, temporarily restoring some of his control over elections that Republican lawmakers stripped him of in a legislative power play just weeks ago
4:17PM ( 10 months ago )
North Carolina gov.-elect sues over law stripping his powers
North Carolina's incoming Democratic governor has sued over a new law passed by Republican lawmakers to limit his powers before he even takes office
1:43PM ( 10 months ago )
10 Things to Know for Today
Among 10 Things to Know: Obama unleashes sanctions on Russia for election hacking; cease-fire in Syria appears to be holding; Serena Williams announces engagement to co-founder of Reddit.
7:40AM ( 10 months ago )
AP Online Congress News
Convicted murderer back in Greek prison after 2-day furlough
Dimitris Koufodinas, a convicted gunman for an extreme left-wing group who once was Greece's most-wanted terrorist, has returned to prison following a 48-hour-furlough
7:51AM ( 35 minutes ago )
President Macron of France solemnly marks Armistice Day
Emmanuel Macron cut a solemn figure on Paris' Champs-Elysees as he commemorated his first Armistice day as French president _ marking the day combats ended during World War I.
7:46AM ( 40 minutes ago )
The Latest: NK calls Trump 'old lunatic,' 'warmonger'
NK calls Trump an 'old lunatic,' 'warmonger' and vows to continue building up nuclear arsenal
7:29AM ( 57 minutes ago )
Some GOP political operatives fear Roy Moore could lose race
Longtime Republican political operatives fear that the GOP might lose one of its Senate seats in Alabama despite Roy Moore's denials that he had a sexual encounter with a 14-year-old girl several decades ago
7:27AM ( 58 minutes ago )
A decade in the making, Louvre Abu Dhabi opens to the public
The Louvre Abu Dhabi has opened to the public after a decade-long wait and questions over laborers' conditions
7:27AM ( 58 minutes ago )