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Confirmation Hearings Begin for Jeff Sessions & John Kelly

HeadlinesJan 10, 2017
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In Washington, D.C., confirmation hearings for Donald Trump’s Cabinet nominees are slated to begin today. Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions will go before the Senate Judiciary Committee to be considered for confirmation as attorney general. Trump’s pick has drawn widespread outrage because of Sessions’s opposition to the Voting Rights Act, support for anti-immigration legislation and history of making racist comments, which included reportedly saying he thought the Ku Klux Klan was "OK until I found out they smoked pot." He has also called the American Civil Liberties Union and the NAACP "un-American" and "Communist-inspired." In 1986, Sessions was denied confirmation for a federal judgeship by a Republican-controlled Senate committee over his racist comments. Those set to testify at Sessions’s hearing include civil rights era icon and Democratic Congressmember John Lewis and Democratic Senator Cory Booker, marking the first time in Senate history that a sitting senator will testify against another sitting senator for a Cabinet post during a confirmation hearing. Last Tuesday, NAACP President Cornell William Brooks and five other civil rights leaders were arrested during a sit-in at Sessions’s Alabama office, demanding he withdraw his name for consideration for attorney general. On Monday, The New York Times editorial board criticized Sessions for failing to turn over dozens, if not hundreds, of documents requested by the Senate Judiciary Committee’s questionnaire. The Huffington Post reported in December that Sessions’ submitted questionnaire originally failed to disclose even the fact that he’d been denied confirmation for the federal judgeship in 1986. And while the Office of Government Ethics has completed Sessions’s ethics report, The Washington Post reports Sessions failed to disclose that he owns oil interests in Alabama—a breach of the ethics requirements. As of Monday afternoon, the ethics disclosure reports for four other Trump nominees slated to go before the Senate this week for confirmation hearings have not been made public at all, including the ethics report for the homeland security nominee, retired General John Kelly, whose hearing is slated to begin today at 3:30 p.m. The Office of Government Ethics has also not made public the ethics reports for the commerce secretary nominee, billionaire Wilbur Ross; housing and urban development nominee Ben Carson; and education secretary nominee Betsy DeVos, whose confirmation hearing has been delayed from this Wednesday until January 17. The Washington Post reports her family has given a total of $250,000 to five of the very lawmakers on the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee who will be tasked with overseeing DeVos’s confirmation hearing.

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