Sen. Jeff Sessions, defined by race and immigration, selected by Trump to become attorney general

The New York Times reports: President-elect Donald J. Trump has selected Senator Jeff Sessions, a conservative from Alabama who became a close adviser after endorsing him early in his campaign, to be the attorney general of the United States, according to officials close to the transition.

Mr. Sessions was also under consideration for secretary of defense, creating debate within the Trump transition team over which job he should fill.

Mr. Sessions, a former prosecutor elected to the Senate in 1996, serves on the Judiciary Committee and has opposed immigration reform as well as bipartisan proposals to cut mandatory minimum prison sentences. [Continue reading…]

In July, NPR reported: In 1981, President Reagan appointed him U.S. Attorney in Mobile. That’s when Sessions first gained national attention over the issue of race. He prosecuted three black civil rights workers for voter fraud. And Hank Sanders was one of their defense lawyers.

“They called them voter fraud cases, and we called them voter persecution cases. Not prosecution, persecution. It was all about stopping black folks from voting, in our opinion,” said Sanders, who’s also a Democratic state senator in Selma.

Sessions accused the defendants of crimes like forging signatures on absentee ballots — and in less than three hours of deliberating, the jury delivered zero convictions.

But it wasn’t a career setback for Sessions. Soon after, in 1986, President Reagan tapped him to be a federal district court judge. And the issue of race would follow Sessions again.

During the confirmation hearings, a Justice Department lawyer alleged that Sessions had called the NAACP “Communist-inspired” and “un-American.” One witness said Sessions once referred to a white civil rights lawyer as a “disgrace to his race.” And a black prosecutor who worked closely with him testified that Sessions had called him “boy.” Sessions denied all of this at the hearing.

“I am not the Jeff Sessions my detractors have tried to create. I am not a racist. I am not insensitive to blacks. I have supported civil rights activities in my state. I have done my job with integrity, equality and fairness for all,” Sessions told senators in 1986.

But a bipartisan group of 10 senators on the Judiciary Committee wasn’t convinced, and voted him down. Sessions was the first Reagan judicial nominee the Senate rejected. [Continue reading…]

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