Jeff Sessions: Man once deemed too racist to be judge set for confirmation as Trump's Attorney General

The Alabama senator is to become America's most senior law enforcement official

Alexandra Wilts
Washington DC
Wednesday 08 February 2017 13:22
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Jeff Sessions came under fire for denying he had contact with Russian officials during his Senate confirmation hearing
Jeff Sessions came under fire for denying he had contact with Russian officials during his Senate confirmation hearing

The Republican-controlled US Senate is expected to confirm perhaps Donald Trump’s most controversial cabinet pick - a man previously accused of racism and bigotry.

Senator Jeff Sessions, was one of Mr Trump’s earliest supporters on Capitol Hill, and was rewarded by being nominated for the position of Attorney General - America’s top law enforcement official - amid strong pushback from Democrats.

Formerly a state attorney general and federal prosecutor, the Alabama senator has struggled against accusations of racism and bigotry on the way to his likely confirmation as top law enforcement officer in the nation.

The Senate on Tuesday voted 52-47 to advance Sessions’ nomination for attorney general to a final vote. The senator is expected to be confirmed on Wednesday.

President Donald Trump in November announced that he would nominate Mr Sessions to lead the Justice Department, calling him a “world-class legal mind” and saying that he is “greatly admired by legal scholars and virtually everyone who knows him.”

Jeff Sessions presses Sally Yates on her need for independence from the White House

In the 1980s, Mr Sessions was also deemed too racist to be a federal judge – an allegation that he called “damnably false” during his Senate confirmation hearing in January.

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Last week, a divided Senate Judiciary Committee voted to approve Mr Sessions as attorney general, the day after Democrats succeeded in postponing the vote.

The committee’s vote came two days after Mr Trump fired the Justice Department’s acting chief Sally Yates, who had objected to his executive order halting refugees from seven majority-Muslim countries entering the US.

Critics have said that support for Mr Sessions is support for Mr Trump’s refugee policy, and have raised questions about whether he will be an independent attorney general.

On Tuesday, Betsy DeVos was voted in as education secretary after Vice President Mike Pence cast a rare, tie-breaking vote on the Senate floor. There were 51 votes in her favour and 50 against.

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