Trump taps Sessions for AG post

Published 3:00 am Saturday, November 19, 2016

President-elect Donald Trump announced his plans Friday to appoint Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions as attorney general of the United States.

Shirley Reddoch, president of the Pike County Republican Women (PCRW), said she was proud of the state’s senator.

“I could not be more proud of Jeff Sessions. He’s always stood up for Alabama and been proud for the state of Alabama,” Reddoch said. “I just hate to lose him. We have to find someone to take his place.”

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Reddoch said that she hopes to have Sessions come to Pike County before any official appointment is made to have, at the least, a meet-and-greet with the potential future AG.

The appointment isn’t yet official though, as Sessions will have to be approved by the U.S. Senate to take the position. Sessions was once denied a position as a federal district judge 30 years ago during the Reagan administration.

The failed appointment came after Sessions was accused of making racially charged statements according to the Associated Press.

“Given some of his past statements and his staunch opposition to immigration reform, I am very concerned about what he would do with the Civil Rights Division at the Department of Justice and want to hear what he has to say,” incoming Democratic minority leader Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York said in a statement.

Sessions’ peers on the Senate Judiciary Committee will almost certainly delve into the Alabama senator’s past statements on race at his confirmation hearing.

The panel’s top Democrat, Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont, hinted as much on Friday, saying the “American people deserve to learn about Senator Sessions’ record.”

Leahy voted against Sessions for a district judgeship when he last came before the Judiciary Committee in 1986.

During that hearing, Sessions was criticized for joking in the presence of an attorney with the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division that the Ku Klux Klan was “OK” until he learned they smoked marijuana. He was also said to have called a black assistant U.S. attorney “boy” and the NAACP “un-American” and “communist-inspired.”

Sessions, a former prosecutor, has said that the racially charged allegations against him have been painful to him and an unfair stain on his public reputation. He called the matter “heartbreaking” in a 2009 CNN interview and described the allegations as “false distortions.”

Reddoch also said that Sessions is a man of great character.

“You cannot find a better person,” Reddoch said. “He has integrity. He has morality. Just search him out– he’s an outstanding individual and I believe he will go by the Constitution and the letter of the law.”

In defending his record, Sessions is likely to point to his vote to confirm Eric Holder as the country’s first black attorney general and to point to his sponsorship of the bipartisan Fair Sentencing Act, which repealed the mandatory minimum penalty for simple crack possession — a penalty that’s been shown to disproportionately affect black defendants.

When he was U.S. Attorney in Alabama, his office investigated the 1981 murder of Michael Donald, a black man who was kidnapped, beaten and killed by two Klansmen who hanged his body in a tree. The two men were later arrested and convicted.

And Montgomery Circuit Judge Greg Griffin, an African-American lawyer who worked in the civil litigation department under Sessions when he was attorney general, said he never saw any signs Sessions was racially insensitive.

If Sessions’ nomination is approved, Gov. Robert Bentley would then be charged with the task to appoint a senator to take Sessions’ place.

“Whoever I choose, there are certain criteria. No. 1 is whoever I choose has to support the agenda for the new president,” Bentley said Friday. “I want the next senator to be as conservative as Senator Sessions, to be very much like him.”

Two of the highest-ranking Republicans in state office — Attorney General Luther Strange and Senate President Del Marsh — are among those thought to be interested in the job. The state’s congressional representatives, such as Rep. Mike Rogers and Rep. Robert Aderholt, and numerous legislators are also potential contenders.