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Get to Know Senator Jeff Sessions, Trump’s Pick for Attorney General

by Countable | 3.20.17

On November 18, President-elect Donald Trump nominated Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) to serve as Attorney General and lead the Dept. of Justice. Trump said that Sessions was one of his most trusted campaign advisers who has a "world-class legal mind" and is “greatly admired by legal scholars and virtually everyone who knows him.”

Who is Jeff Sessions?

Sessions, 69, has served in the U.S. Senate since 1997 and has generally been considered one of the chamber’s more conservative lawmakers during his tenure on a number of policy areas. He has advocated for securing the border against illegal immigration by building a wall, and reducing legal immigration. Sessions has also been outspoken against marijuana legalization and had supported amending the U.S Constitution to ban same-sex marriages, in addition to opposing federal hate crime laws.

Prior to becoming a Senator, Sessions spent two years as Alabama’s attorney general following 13 years as a U.S. Attorney for the southern district of Alabama. During his time as a U.S. Attorney, he filed civil rights charges in the murder of a young black man killed by two Ku Klux Klan members who were eventually convicted. He also prosecuted three African-American community organizers for voter fraud who were acquitted by a jury. In 1986, five years after he became a U.S. Attorney, Sessions was nominated to serve as a judge in the same U.S. District Court, but the Senate Judiciary Committee ultimately failed to advance his nomination.

Currently, Sessions serves on the Senate’s Armed Services Committee, where he chairs a subcommittee on Strategic Forces, and the Judiciary Committee, in which he chairs a subcommittee on Immigration and the National Interest. He is also a member of the Budget Committee and the Environment and Public Works Committee.

Sessions is a native of Alabama who was an Eagle Scout in his youth. He graduated from Huntingdon College where he was student body president, and earned a law degree from the University of Alabama. Sessions was a Captain in the Army Reserve during the 1970s and spent time as an attorney in private practice. He and his wife have three children and six grandchildren.

You can see Sen. Sessions’s voting record and bills he has introduced here.

What’s the outlook for his confirmation?

Given that he is currently a sitting member of the Senate, Sessions would be able to vote to confirm himself both in the Senate Judiciary Committee and when his nomination goes to the Senate as a whole. In the past, sitting Senators have declined to vote on their own nomination, and while he hasn’t yet said whether he’ll vote for himself, Sessions has been asked by a colleague on the committee, Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), to recuse himself. Whether or not he does so, his odds of being confirmed are strong given the Republican majority in the Senate and the fact that Democrats haven’t been as critical of his appointment as they have been of other Trump nominations.

Sessions has faced Senate confirmation before, and was rejected by the Senate Judiciary Committee in 1986 after President Reagan nominated to serve as a judge in the U.S. District Court he represented as a U.S. Attorney. The committee ended up deadlocked with a 9-9 vote after allegations of racism against Sessions came up during hearings, which were based on his calling an African-American colleague "boy" and making jokes about the KKK and NAACP. Sessions denied that he was racist and insisted that his comments were meant as jokes. One of the men whose testimony was used against Sessions said that “I am troubled by the fact that there is an image based on statements that I have made that Mr. Sessions is a racist.”

The Senate Judiciary Committee will oversee his confirmation hearings on January 10-11, 2017.

You can tell your senators how to vote on Sen. Sessions’s confirmation by using the "Take Action" button below.

What does the Department of Justice do?

The Dept. of Justice (DOJ) is responsible for enforcing federal law and administering justice. It is composed of several law enforcement agencies, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), the U.S. Marshals Service and the Federal Bureau of Prisons. Its administrative arm includes the U.S. Attorneys Offices, which prosecute cases for the federal government, and the Office of Legal Counsel which advises the president and executive branch agencies on legal matters, among other offices.

In fiscal year 2016 the DOJ’s budget was more than $28.7 billion and it employed a total 118,001 agents, attorneys, correctional officers, and other personnel.

— Eric Revell

(Photo by Gage Skidmore / Creative Commons)

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  • Megan
    01/03/2017
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    No!! On Sessions.

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  • Catherine
    01/06/2017
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    No on Sessions - racist!!

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  • Liam
    12/28/2016
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    Many conservatives love to talk about the freedom we get to enjoy as Americans. They stress that, for example, our mighty capitalist economy should be able to operate naturally without much government regulation, and many have valid reasons for this belief. That said, those same conservatives are the ones that are AGAINST marriage equality, abortion, marijuana legalization, and more. How on earth does that compute? It is perfectly okay to be personally against these phenomena (everyone is free to have their own opinion) but that gives people like Sessions absolutely NO RIGHT to use his influence to say that other people must not partake in these practices either. What right does a MAN have to tell WOMEN he's never met that it is not okay for them to have abortions? Especially since some of those women became pregnant as a result of rape!!! Or that two men who love each other cannot get married because God says so? Christianity is obviously against abortion and gay marriage, and I guarantee that is the reason why Sessions opposes them. And that is okay... from a personal standpoint only. America is not a theocracy. We have (or are supposed to have) a SEPARATION of church and state in this country, but how on earth can we claim such things when most of the Republicans vote in favor of Christian laws? I am a Christian myself, but I realize that it is absurd to have a supposed SECULAR government making a whole bunch of CHRISTIAN laws. Not to mention the fact that we are going to let a whole bunch of MEN decide the fate of ABORTIONS. Seriously? Does the government not see the gigantic problems here, and do these conservatives not realize their hypocrisy? I thought this was a nation of FREEDOM! A nation where we can make our own decisions based on our own set of values! Shoot, I don't like wearing the color orange but that doesn't mean I want to outlaw the color for everyone else! I can't believe these personal freedoms are even a discussion. And don't even get me started with the marijuana thing. First of all it is a money maker. Secondly, there is no conclusive scientific proof of health detriments in ADULTS who use the drug IN MODERATION (it does hurt people in the brain developmental stage, before age 25). And even IF marijuana were harmful, guess what's way more harmful AND legal? That's right, alcohol and cigarettes. Both can cause cancer and other horrific ailments, yet we sell them like candy because we believe in FREEDOM. This is America! If you want to demolish your health with alcohol and cigarettes, you are FREE to do so!! It makes good money! THE SAME SHOULD APPLY FOR MARIJUANA, WHICH IS OBJECTIVELY LESS HARMFUL. And remember that when gay marriage and abortions were legalized, one has the FREEDOM to REFUSE to partake in them. Women are by no means REQUIRED to get abortions! People are not REQUIRED to attend gay weddings if they don't want to be there! And if marijuana becomes legal across the nation, people can still choose not to smoke it! I think I have said my peace.

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  • Robert
    12/28/2016
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    While I doubt Mr Sessions ability to be fair, I know the Senate is going to confirm one of its own. I oppose his confirmation based in his racism and overt opposition to progressive causes.

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  • Icicle789
    12/28/2016
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    Sessions record against the rights of ALL people deem him a poor choice for AG. "All men are created equal" is a core principle of our nation that he does not believe. Please vote against him.

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  • Steprpace
    12/28/2016
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    Vote against please!

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  • Dennis
    01/09/2017
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    Absolutely no

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  • Jerry
    12/28/2016
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    A classless hater with a long history. We don't need this as a country. If justice is the goal then he isn't qualified to be on the team.

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  • Anna
    12/29/2016
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    This man is a racist and should not be in charge of our energy department

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  • Monica
    12/28/2016
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    No Sessions approval. He is an avowed racist.

    Like (24)
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  • Randy
    12/28/2016
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    Please oppose this nomination.

    Like (22)
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  • Ashley
    12/28/2016
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    Absolutely not.

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  • Alison
    12/28/2016
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    I am concerned with the approval of Jeff Sessions and his history of opposition to same sex marriage and anti-hate laws.

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  • hdinkins
    12/28/2016
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    Oppose Jeff Sessions by using EVERY tool in the legislative toolbox, for he is not fit to model ethical rule of law nor for any public service. He's an errant tyrany with views that will have disgustingly avoidable consequences if we fail to keep him out.

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  • Kathy
    01/10/2017
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    Under no circumstances should Jeff Sessions be confirmed as Attorney General. Please do what you can to deny him this office!

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  • Robert
    12/28/2016
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    This man is, due to his past racism, unfit for the position of Attorney General of the United States

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  • James
    01/11/2017
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    This man is racist and believes the KKK was ok until learning they smoked pot... are you kidding me. This man has no place in our government!

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  • Lori
    12/28/2016
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    Strongly Opposed to Jeff Sessions as Attorney General. No no no!

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  • Marianna
    12/27/2016
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    This is hardly the time to appoint an AG who opposes federal hate crime legislation. If his putrid comments were not enough, his open disdain for basic protections is beyond the pale. It is unconscionable to approve the appointment of a man who has made every effort to dismantle civil rights legislation to a position that would empower him to redefine the concept.

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  • SmithReggie
    12/27/2016
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    I have the displeasure of having Jeff Sessions as my Senator. This man is so out of touch with Liberty that it isn't even funny. He believes the government has some divine role to play in telling people how to live their lives. He understands the constitution, but flat out ignores its limitations. He would rather test the limits of the constitution than make the government insignificant. He is a war hawk, a Prohibitionist, and a shame to what this country was founded upon. The only consolation in this nomination is that he will no longer be my Senator. I can only hope that the Senate blocks his confirmation and he is finally retired from Washington for good. I cannot tell you how displeased I am in his viewpoint of the federal government.

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