Sen. Jeff Sessions was selected by President-elect Donald Trump to serve as his Attorney General, putting him in line to become the top law and order position of the Trump administration.
Here are six things you need to know about Jeff Sessions:
1: The First U.S. Senator to Endorse Donald Trump for President
Sessions was already familiar with Trump when the developer came to Capitol Hill to testify about proposed renovations to the U.N. headquarters in 2005. Trump argued that the proposed $1.5 billion cost was outrageous estimating that the actual cost could be done with $700 million.
Sessions called Trump’s testimony “a breath of fresh air” and thanked him for showing Congress how to save money.
In September 2015, Trump traveled to Washington D.C. to attend a rally against the Iran deal. He met with Sessions afterward, prompting speculation that the veteran senator was open to endorsing Trump.
In February 2016, Sessions appeared at a rally with Trump in Mobile, Alabama and endorsed him for president, a blow for his senate colleague Ted Cruz who was also running for president.
“I told Donald Trump this isn’t a campaign, this is a movement,” Sessions said. “Look at what’s happening. The American people are not happy with their government.”
In August 2016, Sessions wore a ‘Make Mexico Great Again Also’ hat while Trump outlined his tough positions on illegal immigration.
2: Leading opponent of amnesty:
Sen. Jeff Sessions is undoubtedly the biggest opponent of amnesty for illegal immigrants.
Sessions repeatedly denounced establishment members of both parties who worked hand in hand with top members of the business community as “Masters of the Universe” who worked behind closed doors to plot the legalization for illegal immigrants in Congress.
He has a drawing of He-man and Battle Cat hanging in his office together with a transcript of remarks he made in 2007, after delivering a speech denouncing President George W. Bush’s efforts for immigration reform.
He reused his “Masters of the Universe” talking points again in 2013, opposing the amnesty pursued by the Gang of Eight, an effort that was widely supported by Silicon Valley tech giants including Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg.
3. Led populist revolt against TPP
Sessions was adamantly against the Transpacific Partnership trade deal, a deal that most Republicans were happy to work with Obama to get passed.
“For too long the United States has entered in the trade deals, on the promise of economic bounty only to see workers impoverished, industries disappear, manufacturing jobs declined,” Sessions said in a speech against a vote to give Obama authority to negotiate the trade deal.
Sessions was one of only five Republican senators who voted against giving Obama the authority to negotiate the deal.
4. Leftist Attacks:
When President Ronald Reagan nominated Sessions in 1985 to serve as a federal judge in Alabama, Democrats were ready. Sessions was accused of being racially insensitive, and unfit to serve, as former employees testified against him.
Sen. Ted Kennedy denounced Sessions as “a throwback to a shameful era which I know both black and white Americans thought was in our past.”
Moderate Republican senator Arlen Specter later admitted that his vote against Sessions was “a mistake.”
“I have since found that Sen. Sessions is egalitarian,” he told reporters in 2009.
5. Record of supporting civil rights
The Trump campaign reacted on Friday to accusations that Sessions was too controversial a nominee.
They pointed out that as attorney general in Alabama, Sessions filed desegregation lawsuits and supported the 30-year extension of the Civil Rights Act. The Trump team noted that Sessions voted to confirm Attorney General Eric Holder and proposed awarding the Congressional Medal of Honor to Rosa Parks.
6. Criminal Justice reform and the Crack Cocaine thing:
During confirmation hearings for Supreme Court Justice nominee Sonia Sotomayor, Sessions told one of the witnesses that he was supportive of lowering criminal penalties for users of crack cocaine.
“Sen. Leahy and I are talking, during these hearings, we’re going to do that crack cocaine thing that you and I have talked about before,” he said as the room erupted in laughter. After Sessions realized how funny his statement sounded, he grinned and corrected the record.
In 2010, the Washington Post endorsed a bill proposed by Sessions and Democratic Senator Dick Durbin to do exactly that.
“Assistant Senate Majority Leader Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) and Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) deserve credit for hammering out the compromise and shepherding the bill through the Senate,” the editorial noted.