Republican President-elect Donald Trump‘s attorney general nominee Sen. Jeff Sessions “once joked that he only took issue with the KKK’s drug use and referred to civil rights groups as ‘un-American,’” reports The Huffington Post.
The Alabama Republican was once rejected as a federal judge over allegations that “he called a Black attorney ‘boy,’ suggested a white lawyer working for Black clients was a race traitor, and referred to civil rights groups as ‘un-American’ organizations trying to ‘force civil rights down the throats of people who were trying to put problems behind them,’” writes the news outlet.
While serving as a United States prosecutor in Alabama, Sessions was nominated in 1986 by President Ronald Reagan for a federal judgeship, reports The New York Times:
But his nomination was rejected by the Republican-controlled Senate Judiciary Committee because of racially charged comments and actions. At that time, he was one of two judicial nominees whose selections were halted by the panel in nearly 50 years.
In testimony before the committee, former colleagues said that Mr. Sessions had referred to the N.A.A.C.P., the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and other civil rights groups as “un-American” and “Communist-inspired.” An African-American federal prosecutor then, Thomas H. Figures, said Mr. Sessions had referred to him as “boy” and testified that Mr. Sessions said the Ku Klux Klan was fine “until I found out they smoked pot.” Mr. Sessions dismissed that remark as a joke.
Mr. Sessions was also accused of speaking disparagingly of the Voting Rights Act and the stringent oversight it placed on Southern states.
Rashad Robinson, executive director of Color Of Change, the nation’s largest online racial justice organization, released a scathing response to Trump’s selection of Sessions.
“There’s no other way to say it: Jeff Sessions is a racist,” Robinson says in the statement. “He has opposed the Voting Rights Act. He has taken extreme views on immigration and free speech that threaten Black communities and other communities of color. Our question for members of the United States Senate is simple: do they support racism, or do they not? In 1986, the Republican-controlled Judiciary Committee refused to confirm Sessions to the federal bench. In 2017, the Senate should be just as unequivocal: “no” to racism means “no” to Jeff Sessions.”
Sessions is not Trump’s only controversial cabinet pick. He is under considerable pressure to rescind his selection of Steve Bannon, a member of the alt-right, as White House chief strategist.
Trump also picked Republican Kansas Rep. Mike Pompeo as CIA director. Pompeo is considered a hard-line conservative who “has built a reputation as a stalwart conservative since starting in 2011 in the House — opposing Obamacare, supporting the federal government shutdown and serving as a member of the House panel that investigated the Benghazi attack,” reports CNN.
He has also offered the post of national security adviser to Lt. Gen. Michael T. Flynn, a registered Democrat and retired intelligence officer, “who believes Islamist militancy poses an existential threat in one of the most powerful roles in shaping military and foreign policy,” reports The New York Times.
Given Trump’s campaign rhetoric, none of these choices surprise us. But we also know that grassroots protests can lead to change. Let’s work toward the latter. Sound off in comments.