WASHINGTON — Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) is likely to be announced soon as President-elect Donald J. Trump’s nominee to serve as Attorney General, according to multiple reports.
Sessions has served in the United States Senate since 1997, and prior to that was a US Attorney and Alabama Attorney General.
“While nothing has been finalized and he is still talking with others as he forms his cabinet, the President-elect has been unbelievably impressed with Senator Sessions and his phenomenal record as Alabama’s Attorney General and U.S. Attorney,” the Trump Transition Team said in a statement. “It is no wonder the people of Alabama re-elected him without opposition.”
Sessions’ name has consistently been included in media speculation regarding potential Trump Cabinet members. He was the first U.S. Senator to endorse the billionaire businessman and was a staple on the campaign trail.
On Thursday evening, USA Today published a story citing a source inside the Trump campaign who signaled that President-elect Trump had made up his mind on Sessions.
“Trump and Sessions met Thursday in New York, after which Trump decided that Sessions had separated himself from the other contenders for the post, according to a senior staffer on the transition team,” USA Today’s Mary Troyan wrote.
The New York Times, Associated Press and other left-leaning media outlets quickly pounced with stories accusing Senator Sessions of racism.
In 1986, the U.S. Senate did not confirm then-U.S. Attorney Sessions for a federal judgeship appointment by President Ronald Reagan after accusations surfaced that Senator Sessions had made racially insensitive remarks.
Numerous Sessions colleagues came forward to debunk the accusations, but the damage had already been done. Sessions’ nomination was pulled.
Senator Arlen Spector, who opposed Sessions’ nomination at the time, later said he regretted it.
“My vote against candidate Sessions for the federal court was a mistake because I have since found that Sen. Sessions is egalitarian,” Specter said.
William Smith, the former Chief Counsel for the Senate Judiciary Committee and current Chief of Staff for Congressman Gary Palmer also dismisses the attacks.
“I had the opportunity to work with Senators Sessions for close to 10 years,” he said. “Throughout that time, he was more a friend and confidant than the boss. I believe he hired me as the first ever Republican African American Chief Counsel on the Senate Judiciary Committee and I’m not sure there has been another one since me. After I moved to Alabama to practice law and then returned to Washington, Senator Sessions offered me the position of Chief Counsel on the full Judiciary Committee and then basically created a position for me on his Senate Budget Committee, where I continued as his Chief.
“Jeff Sessions is a man of high character and great integrity,” he continued. “He would make an outstanding Attorney General and I’m excited to support him 100%. Although I pushed the envelope a number of times, not once did Senator Sessions ever say anything to offend me. Instead, time after time, he stood by me and the conservative causes I was out to support. I remember spending several late nights in the office, not talking about working, but talking about life and family. Senator Sessions was always concerned for my well being. Because he is such a great man, one of the most difficult decisions I have ever made was leaving his employment. In his kindness, he told me if I wanted to come back, I could. He, Mary and his children have treated me like family and I’ll always be grateful for that.”
Sessions’ confirmation hearings are expected to be much more amicable this time.
Sen. Chuck Grassley, who chairs the Judiciary Committee, praised Sen. Sessions on Thursday after hearing his name was being floated publicly.
“Senator Sessions is a respected member and former Ranking Member of the Judiciary Committee who has worked across the aisle on major legislation,” said Grassley. “He knows the Justice Department as a former U.S. attorney, which would serve him very well in this position. With this background, and if he’s fortunate enough to be nominated, I’m confident he would be reported favorably out of the committee.”
It is unclear how imminent Sen. Sessions’ appointment may be, but it appears that it could come any day.