The New York Times and CBS News reported Friday that Sessions was picked for the senior cabinet post after meeting with the president-elect on Thursday in New York.
CBS News quotes sources directly involved in the selection process regarding the selection and the Times quotes officials close to the transition.
. Sessions, 69, has been in the Senate since 1997. He is a former
Representatives of President-elect Donald Trump’s transition team made contact with Justice Department officials Thursday to begin the process of turning over the department to the incoming administration.
“We are fully prepared to assist the incoming transition team,’’ the department said in a brief written statement. “As the president has said, we are committed to a smooth and successful transition.’’
Sessions and Trump initially bonded over their shared views on immigration and trade policy. But Sessions’ background as a prosecutor and his longtime seat on the Senate Judiciary Committee have been at the center of his Senate career. He's a fierce partisan who is known for opposing efforts to provide legal status to immigrants who entered the country illegally, whether the idea came from Republican or Democratic administrations.
If the Sessions pick is officially confirmed by the president-elect, his confirmation process will likely rehash one of his darkest professional moments. The Senate Judiciary Committee 30 years ago rejected Sessions' nomination for a federal judgeship after hearing testimony about racially insensitive remarks he made to colleagues in the U.S. Attorney's office in south Alabama.
There were allegations that Sessions called a black attorney in his office ''boy''; that he said the
Sessions would go on to win several statewide elections in Alabama and eventually a seat on the very committee that had rejected him. He was also the ranking Republican on the judiciary committee when
The emerging defense for Sessions indicates that Trump's team is bracing for opposition from Democrats and civil rights groups concerned about a Justice Department that might seek to roll back certain legal protections for minorities or place less emphasis on issues like voting rights. Although Sessions voted to extend the
Kristen Clarke, president of the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, said Thursday night that a Sessions nomination could be polarizing.
“That role should be occupied by someone who has a commitment to ensuring equal justice under the law for all,” she said. “If he is indeed the nominee, I believe it would be viewed with great skepticism by many in the civil rights community.”
William Smith said Thursday that Sessions hired him as the first African-American Republican chief counsel on the Senate Judiciary Committee. "Jeff Sessions is a man of high character and great integrity," Smith said. "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."