President-elect Donald J. Trump has selected Senator Jeff Sessions, a conservative from Alabama who became a close adviser after endorsing him early in his campaign, to be the attorney general of the United States, according to officials close to the transition.
Mr. Sessions was also under consideration for secretary of defense, creating debate within the Trump transition team over which job he should fill.
Mr. Sessions, a former prosecutor elected to the Senate in 1996, serves on the Judiciary Committee and has opposed immigration reform as well as bipartisan proposals to cut mandatory minimum prison sentences.
Sources tell CBS News that he offered the post of attorney general to Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions, one day after he asked retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn to serve as national security adviser. Major Garrett, who was first to report on the offer to Sessions, joined “CBS This Morning” to discuss the president-elect’s pick and the controversy surrounding Flynn:
However, the New York Times reports:
“While Mr. Sessions is well liked in the Senate, his record as United States attorney in Alabama in the 1980s is very likely to become an issue for Democrats and civil rights groups expected to give it close scrutiny.
While serving as a United States prosecutor in Alabama, Mr. Sessions was nominated in 1986 by President Ronald Reagan for a federal judgeship. 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.”