Politics

Jeff Sessions' Past Questioned After Trump Win

| by Ray Brown

Republican Sen. Jeff Sessions is rumored to be a possible pick for Attorney General in President-elect Donald Trump's cabinet, but the conservative lawmaker's past has generated questions about his qualifications for the office.

Talking Points Memo pointed out several instances over the past few decades in which Sessions made controversial comments.

In 1986, then-Democratic Sen. Joe Biden of Delaware urged President Ronald Reagan to withdraw Sessions' name from a federal judgeship nomination for allegedly making racist comments to staff members.

Thomas Figures, a black assistant United States Attorney at the time, said in a written statement that Sessions warned him about what he said ''to white folks,” The New York Times reported at the time.

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But other black colleagues defended Sessions, including Larry D. Thompson, a former United States Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia, who is black and described Sessions as ''a good man and an honest man, untainted by prejudice.''

''I have experienced racism all my life. Yet I know Jeff Sessions - not as a symbol, not just as a colleague - but as a man and a friend,'' Thompson said, according to The New York Times. ''He will serve our nation well as a United States District Court judge.''

A more serious allegation involved preventing black people in Alabama from voting in counties that had begun to increasingly vote for black candidates.

The New Republic reported on the subject:

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Sessions' focus on these counties to the exclusion of others caused an uproar among civil rights leaders, especially after hours of interrogating black absentee voters produced only 14 allegedly tampered ballots out of more than 1.7 million cast in the state in the 1984 election. The activists, known as the Marion Three, were acquitted in four hours and became a cause celebre. Civil rights groups charged that Sessions had been looking for voter fraud in the black community and overlooking the same violations among whites, at least partly to help reelect his friend Senator Denton.

Sessions ended up being denied the judgeship.

He bounced back and became Alabama's attorney general in 1994. Two years later, he was elected to represent Alabama in the U.S. Senate.

And in the 2016 presidential election, Sessions was an early supporter of Trump.

At an August 2015 rally in Mobile, Alabama, Trump credited Sessions for giving him advice and described the Republican Senator as a “great politician," according to AL.com

Sources: Talking Points Memo, The New York Times, New Republic, AL.com / Photo credit: Gage Skidmore/Wikimedia Commons

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