Conservative senator is A-G pick

Mr Sessions is well liked in the Senate, but his record in the 1980s is likely to be an issue for Democrats.
Mr Sessions is well liked in the Senate, but his record in the 1980s is likely to be an issue for Democrats.

WASHINGTON • US President- elect Donald 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 (A-G), according to officials close to the transition.

Mr Sessions, 69, was also under consideration for secretary of defence, creating debate within the Trump transition team over which job he should fill.

A former prosecutor elected to the Senate in 1996, Mr Session serves on the Judiciary Committee and has opposed immigration reform as well as bipartisan proposals to cut mandatory minimum prison sentences.

While he is well liked in the Senate, his record in Alabama in the 1980s is likely to be an issue for Democrats and civil rights groups.

While serving as a US prosecutor in Alabama, he was nominated in 1986 by then President Ronald Reagan for a federal judgeship. But the Republican-controlled Senate Judiciary Committee rejected the nomination because of racially charged comments and actions. At the 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 National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and other civil rights groups as "un-American" and "communist-inspired".

The A-G represents the United States in legal matters and gives advice to the President and government agencies. The Justice Department's broad portfolio includes prosecution of white-collar crime and enforcement of antitrust and civil rights laws. Mr Sessions would oversee all the US attorneys' offices.

NYTIMES, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 19, 2016, with the headline 'Conservative senator is A-G pick'. Print Edition | Subscribe