A flurry of activity within the Senate kicked off on Tuesday, as it began confirmation hearings on two of President-Elect Donald Trump’s cabinet picks. One particular nominee was certain to face a curtain of fire from Democratic members, Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions.
Sessions is Trump’s pick to head a Justice Department that has become increasingly fickle under the Obama administration. The Senator has been a long time Trump supporter, since his appearance at a campaign stop at Madison, Alabama in February of 2016. His endorsement shocked the political establishment, as many thought Sessions would distance himself from the controversial Republican candidate.
As questioning unfolded today, Sessions faced a line of criticism from Democratic members of Congress starting with Senator Dianne Feinstein, D-CA. Feinstein questioned Sessions on the issue of marriage equality and asked if Sessions would seek to discriminate against members of the LGBT community as Attorney General and roll back the Supreme Court decision to allow homosexuals the right to marry in all fifty states. Senator Sessions responded fervidly that the Supreme Court was clear in their decision and that he, like President Elect Trump, feels the issue is settled.
Feinstein again fired back at Sessions on the issue of Roe v. Wade, a Supreme Court decision that upheld a woman’s right to abortion. Sessions reiterated that Roe v. Wade and marriage equality were “the law of the land”, his job as Attorney General will be to enforce, not dismantle such laws. Although, he stated he felt the landmark decision violated the Constitution, he would stand behind the law as Trump’s Attorney General.
At several points of the testimony protesters erupted into chants of “No Trump! No KKK!, No fascist USA!” a line used throughout Trump’s campaign in an attempt to paint the candidate as racist and akin to a dictator. Police officers escorted two men dressed as Klansmen from the chambers, along with several members of Code Pink for their disruption. One man began to yell at officers “you can’t arrest me, I am white!” and “white people own this government” as they were being escorted from the hearing.
Sessions remained steadfast throughout giving a stellar performance. He defended his career as Alabama Attorney General, citing that he has never wavered when it has come to discrimination. Sessions oversaw the prosecution of two key figures in the Alabama KKK and their involvement in the 1981 lynching death of Michael Donald, securing the death penalty for both.
It appears Session’s biggest opponents could be Senator Cory Booker, D-NJ, longtime Congressman John Lewis, D-GA and Congressman Cedric Richmond, D-LA – chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus. Senator Booker is preparing to testify against Senator Sessions, which could be the first time a sitting Senator has testified against another in the confirmation process. Indications are they will attempt to paint Sessions as a racist and an opponent of civil rights legislation.
It is worth noting that the Democrats do not have enough votes to deny Sessions nor Homeland Security nominee Marine General John Kelly, but they do promise to offer fireworks. Apparently they have plenty left over from the Clinton campaign.