*Donald Trump continues to fill his administration with white men who have long, documented track records of racism.
After announcing that alt-right leader Stephen Bannon would serve as chief strategist and senior counselor, and Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn (who famously tweeted “Fear of Muslims is rational”) as national security adviser, President-Elect Donald Trump’s transition team also announced Friday that longtime racist, Sen. Jeff Sessions, has been chosen for the next Attorney General of the United States.
This means that the man who once called the Voting Rights Act “intrusive legislation” will now be in charge of our nation’s civil rights laws.
Sessions, a 69-year-old native of Selma, Alabama, has a long and storied history of racism, to put it mildly. The former prosecutor has consistently supported anti-immigration legislation, he led efforts to repeal the 14th amendment in 2010 (which grants citizenship to everyone born in the U.S.), he was nominated for a federal judgeship in 1986 by President Reagan, but was denied confirmation because of his history of racist comments, including once saying he though the KKK “was okay…until I found out they smoked pot.” He’s also called the American Civil Liberties Union and NAACP “un-American” and “communist inspired.”
Via U.S. Uncut:
Before Sessions was the junior U.S. Senator from Alabama, he served as Alabama’s U.S. Attorney from 1981 to 1993, during both the Reagan and Bush Sr. administrations. President-elect Trump stated that he was “unbelievably impressed” with Sessions’ record as U.S. Attorney and Attorney General from Alabama.
The fact that Trump’s transition team would refer to Sessions’ record as impressive is remarkable, considering Sessions’ career as a law enforcement official is littered with multiple examples of using government resources to pursue racist crusades.
In 1984, Sessions used the full weight of his office to prosecute three veteran civil rights activists for voter fraud after helping elderly, rural black voters mail their ballots. Albert Turner, who helped Martin Luther King register black voters in the 1960s, faced over 100 years in jail for the crime of helping black people vote. They were ultimately cleared of all charges after a team of seven black and five white jurors deliberated for less than three hours.
Despite Sessions’ draconian prosecution of Turner, his wife, and civil rights activist Spencer Hogue, President Ronald Reagan nominated him to a federal judgeship in 1986. Sessions’ track record of racism was so abhorrent that even the Republican-led Senate, which normally accommodated Reagan on nearly every facet of his agenda, refused to confirm his appointment.
Historian Kevin Kruse tweeted a 1986 Washington Post article about Sessions’ confirmation hearings, in which his remarks about the NAACP (“un-American) and the Ku Klux Klan (“okay”) were brought to light. The article also mentioned how Sessions admitted to calling a white civil rights attorney defending black clients “a disgrace to his race.” Author Keith Boykin also tweeted a link to a New York Times article in which Session defended those comments in front of a prosecutor from the U.S. Justice Department, who was visiting Sessions’ office in Mobile:
— Kevin M. Kruse (@KevinMKruse) November 18, 2016
— Keith Boykin (@keithboykin) November 18, 2016
J. Gerald Hebert, the DOJ colleague mentioned in that article, told the Huffington Post that Sessions “demonstrated gross insensitivity to black people,” and another former colleague mentioned that Sessions referred to him as “boy,” which is commonly understood as a derogatory reference toward men of color dating back to the antebellum South.
Atlantic editor Adam Serwer said that Sessions’ appointment as Attorney General means that long-standing civil rights laws may be unenforced during the Trump administration, emboldening racist local and state officials to deny protections to the most vulnerable members of society.
Concerned folks on Twitter spent Friday digging up the racist past of 69-year-old Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III:
“Demonstrated gross insensitivity to black people,” -how a former colleague described Jeff Sessions, Trump’s new AG. https://t.co/WrRAP89yII
— J.D. Durkin (@jiveDurkey) November 18, 2016
— Mazel Tov Cocktail (@AdamSerwer) November 18, 2016
— Eric Hananoki (@ehananoki) November 18, 2016
Steve Bannon, Michael Flynn, and now Jeff Sessions. It is now news when Trump chooses someone for his staff who isn’t openly bigoted.
— Jamil Smith (@JamilSmith) November 18, 2016
Elizabeth Warren on Jeff Sessions: pic.twitter.com/0iLD9XTWaM
— Alex Seitz-Wald (@aseitzwald) November 18, 2016
Jeff Sessions prosecuted black voters in Alabama…for voting. pic.twitter.com/0OPS1etfkx
— Dr. Anthony M. Kreis (@AnthonyMKreis) November 18, 2016
Jeff Sessions called a black guy a “boy” & a white guy a “race traitor”, but it’s ok cause he says he ain’t racist. https://t.co/Cw7kgkjEZm
— Tea Pain (@TeaPainUSA) November 18, 2016
Perhaps today’s endorsement of former KKK Grand Wizard David Duke speaks louder than any of the above tweets:
Bannon, Flynn, Sessions — Great! Senate must demand that Sessions as AG stop the massive institutional race discrimination against whites!
— David Duke (@DrDavidDuke) November 18, 2016