9 things to know about Jeff Sessions, Trump’s frightening pick for attorney general
Nothing could have prepared us for the sheer amount of creepy, racist white men being shuffled into Trump Tower and then spit back out with a cabinet position. On Friday, the Trump transition team confirmed that it asked Mike Pompeo to be the CIA director, Michael Flynn to serve as national security advisor, and Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions to serve as attorney general. They’re all bad, but first, there are a few things you should know about Jeff Sessions (besides the fact that he looks like the out-of-town politician who gets caught in an S&M club on an episode of Law and Order: SVU).
Sessions, should the Senate confirm him, would take over the job from President Obama’s pick, Loretta Lynch. It’s sad that a smart, progressive woman of color will have to hand over her office to such a tiny white man. The Department of Justice has made some big moves under Lynch, like straight up calling North Carolina out over HB2, the transgender bathroom law. She always went hard when it came to investigating police departments that involved officers shooting unarmed black men. She’s not without fault, but the Justice Department has pretty much had all Americans’ backs during her time in office.
So, what do we know about this dude?
He was the first one to back Trump
He was one of the first members of Congress to publicly endorse Trump and has been an advisor throughout the campaign. A top Sessions aide assisted the Trump campaign in their messaging about immigration, which, as we all know, is some of the scariest shit about Trump’s platform. He was also in the running to be vice president as well, advising Trump on choosing Mike Pence. So, he and Trump are tight AF.
The senator swears he is not racist, but back in 1986, when he was a U.S. attorney in Alabama, he was not confirmed for a judgeship by the Senate Judiciary Committee because of racist allegations against him. So someone had some sense. People said he called the NAACP, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, and the American Civil Liberties Union “un-American.” Then an African-American federal prosecutor, Thomas H. Figures, testified that Sessions called him “boy” and testified that Sessions was down with the KKK until he “found out they smoked pot.” Sessions swears it was a joke but JOKES ARE SUPPOSED TO BE FUNNY, senator.
He once prosecuted black voters
As a U.S. attorney, he prosecuted three black civil rights workers for voter fraud. The jury did not convict them. Hank Sanders, who is now also a senator, was the workers’ lawyer. “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,” Sanders told NPR. “I really don’t think that he thinks that black folks are equal human beings. And I don’t think that he thinks that Hispanic people are equal human beings.”
He believes in the wall
Sessions is no joke when it comes to immigration. He’s on the Senate Subcommittee on Immigration and originally got behind Trump because they’re both hardliners when it comes to securing our borders. He was an advocate for a wall way before Trump even said he’d get Mexico to pay for it. Sessions was called “amnesty’s worst enemy” by the National Review and has even fought legal immigration reform, like guest worker programs and student visa programs.
He’s down with torture
Along with being tough on immigration, Sessions is about getting tough when it comes to foreign policy. He voted against banning “cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment” of prisoners in 2006. He also voted against a withdrawal timetable in the Middle East because, like Trump’s fears of making a plan for Syria, Sessions thinks that gives the enemy too much information about when they can attack. Also, just FYI — he did vote for the Iraq War, although he often says he opposed it.
Obviously he’s pro-life and anti-LGBTQ
Sessions is staunchly pro-life and also very, very opposed to gay marriage. Oh, and he said Trump’s joke about grabbing pussy didn’t like sound like sexual assault, but then retracted the comment and said his words were taken out of context.
He’s got a crush on Trump
Sessions said in April, “I do think it’s one of the charms he has. It’s more of a blue-collar attitude, but he is so proud of that plane. He doesn’t try to be cool, like, ‘I’m a rich person.’ He says, ‘Let me show you this, let me show you that!’ He takes you around and he wants to show you his towers.” Mmmkay.
He’s a climate change denier
And he supports the Keystone Pipeline, fracking, and gets a shit ton of money from companies that do that sort of thing.
The NRA loves him, too
It endorsed him in 2014 and gave him an “A” rating for opposing universal background checks.
There are a lot of reasons why Trump’s team would pick the fifth most important conservative in Congress to be the attorney general. But his record on civil rights and nativist views don’t bode well for Americans who were just starting to get used to a more open minded Department of Justice. So long prosecuting hate crimes and racist police officers, hello finding legal ways to make a registry of Muslims.