As President-elect Trump makes final preparations to assume his role as President of the United States on January 20, his cabinet nominees are also preparing. The Senate began hearings on Tuesday to confirm several nominees. Among the most controversial is the nomination of Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., to serve as attorney general.
Sessions faced a Senate confirmation hearing decades ago after being nominated to serve as a federal judge. That nomination was later withdrawn after allegations emerged that Sessions had engaged in racist speech and behavior. Those allegations were later proven false, but it was too late for Sessions then.
Former Senate Judiciary Committee chief counsel William Smith spoke Wednesday about his personal experiences with Sessions while serving on his staff. Smith, an African-American, fervently denied any evidence of racism on the part of Sessions.
In his opening statement, Smith said “It’s an honor for me to be here today to support Senator Sessions to the next Attorney General of the United States of America. He will do an outstanding job.” He called Sessions “a man of the highest character and great integrity,” a “fair and honest” man who “understands the law” and “will disperse it equally.”
Smith’s testimony directly contradicts the 30-year-old, discredited attacks that have reemerged at Sessions’ recent confirmation hearings. Smith chastised Sessions’ liberal colleagues and the media for citing “30 years of old innuendos and allegations that have been disproven.” He noted the hypocrisy of Sessions’ colleagues who had previously praised him and who “now turn to attack.”
“This should not be,” Smith said. “This process should be about facts, not about political aspirations.” He challenged the committee to argue with Sessions about issues rather than personal attacks on his character. This was a veiled shot at Sen. Cory Booker, D-NJ, who testified moments before Smith. Booker, the first sitting senator ever to testify against a colleague for a cabinet position, is widely believed to be laying the groundwork for a presidential run in 2020.
“After 20 years of knowing Senator Sessions, I have not seen the slightest evidence of racism because it does not exist,” Smith added.
Smith described Sessions as a thoughtful, fair senator and leader who has aided African-American communities noting that “he fought for civil rights” and for all Americans. As someone who has observed Sessions professionally on a regular basis and someone who knows and cares for him personally, Smith concluded that “if you come before Jeff Sessions, you will get equal justice and you will respect the outcome even if you lose.”
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Source: The Hill