3 Things to Know About Trump's AG Nominee Jeff Sessions

U.S. Senator Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., an advisor to U.S. President Elect Donald Trump, speaks to members of the Media in the lobby of Trump Tower in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York November 17, 2016.
U.S. Senator Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., an advisor to U.S. President Elect Donald Trump, speaks to members of the Media in the lobby of Trump Tower in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York November 17, 2016. | (Photo: Reuters/Mike Segar)

As President-elect Trump proceeds to fill his Cabinet, speculations are swirling regarding his approach to governance in light of who he selects for key positions, particularly for attorney general, the nation's chief law enforcement officer.

Trump announced last week that Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions, who was one of his early supporters and the first U.S. Senator to endorse him during the primaries, was his pick for Attorney General. Like the rest of his Cabinet nominees, Sessions will face a Senate hearing in order be confirmed.

Here are 3 noteworthy things about the likely next attorney general of the United States.

1. The Alabama senator is a strident opponent of the legalization of marijuana and is a vocal advocate for prosecuting drug-related crimes.

While those with more libertarian leanings tend to favor allowing marijuana to be used recreationally, Sessions has been outspoken in his opposition to it, and has been roundly mocked for it.

In a Senate floor speech in March this year, Sessions articulated his concern with the equivalencies being made with regarding alcohol and smoking marijuana and how legitimizing marijuana fuels a drug culture that causes problems for law enforcement.

"You can't have the President of the United States of America talking about marijuana like it is no different than taking a drink, saying I used marijuana when I was in high school and it is no different than smoking," Sessions said.

"It is different. And you are sending a message to young people that there is no danger in this process. It is false that marijuana use doesn't lead people to more drug use. It is already causing a disturbance in the States that have made it legal. I think we need to be careful about this," he added.

In that same speech he criticized former Attorney General Eric Holder, who in 2013 ordered federal prosecutors not to level charges at certain kinds of drug offenders when the law requires a mandatory minimum sentence. Such an action has yielded a decrease in the number of prosecutions and convictions of actual drug traffickers.

2. He was denied a federal judgeship in 1986, some call it a Borking trial run, in large part due to insensitive racial comments, charges he continues to dispute.

Conservatives in particular find this specious given his past actions against the Ku Klux Klan and his role in desegregating Alabama schools.

While controversy surrounding him has not reached the heights of that of Steve Bannon, whom President-elect Trump has named as chief strategist, some are revisiting Sessions' past remarks when President Reagan nominated him to serve as the U.S. District Judge for the Southern District of Alabama.

According to CNN, his nomination was derailed when a comment he made surfaced that was related to a horrifying case where two Klansmen kidnapped and brutally murdered a young black man as retribution for a jury acquitting another black man of a white police officer. When Sessions heard that the Klan members who had killed the man had used marijuana the same night of the murder he said out loud that he thought he KKK was "OK until I found out they smoked pot." Thomas Figures, an African-American Assistant U.S. Attorney who worked alongside Sessions, said he heard that remark and did not interpret it as a joke, as Sessions insisted, and also testified that Sessions had referred to him as "boy" on numerous occasions, a charge Sessions denies.

Meanwhile, conservatives are pointing out even if true it took place over 30 years ago and his record ever since is proof positive that he is in no way a racist. In fact, he was even one of the few Republican Senators to vote to confirm Eric Holder as President Obama's Attorney General.

As noted by the Weekly Standard on Nov. 17, when Sessions was U.S. Attorney he filed several cases to desegregate public schools in Alabama and successfully prosecuted Henry Francis Hays, a KKK member who killed a black teenager. Sessions later fought for the death penalty for Hays and the whole ordeal resulted in a $7 million civil judgment against the Klan, which severely diluted their influence in that state.

3. Sessions has been among the most critical of the Obama administration's position on immigration, national security, and refugees; if confirmed, he represents a dramatic reversal in policy.

Donald Trump's stance on immigration was one of the most significant reasons why Sessions, who is widely considered to be the most anti-amnesty voice in the Senate, supported him so early in the election cycle.

In a June interview with The American Thinker, Sessions asserted that federal government is under no moral or legal obligation to admit anyone to the United States.

"The Immigration Naturalization Act says the president can refuse entry to 'any alien or class of aliens he deems detrimental to the interests of the U.S.' It is appropriate to be aggressive in our vetting."

"Questions can be asked: do you believe in religious freedom, do you believe in sharia law or the Constitution, and do you respect minorities such as women and gays."

"We have to understand that most Muslims do not adhere to this extreme ideology, but there is nothing wrong to refuse admittance to those who distance themselves from our values. We need to use common sense with the who-what-where of the threat. It is the toxic ideology of Islam," he continued.

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