President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee for U.S. attorney general, Republican Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama, faced more than nine hours of testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, during which he denied being a racist and tried to distance himself from Trump’s most extreme promises. The hearing was repeatedly disrupted by protesters who chanted “No Trump! No KKK! No fascist U.S.A.!” During one interruption, protesters wore white, hooded robes and pretended to be members of the Ku Klux Klan.
Protester: “Thank you so much for being here for all the people. What do we have to do? Wait a minute, you can’t arrest me. I’m white! White people don’t get arrested. Wait a minute. White people—what do we have to do? Wait for the inauguration? What is this craziness? I’m a white man! You cannot take me out of here! I own this country! White people own this country!”
During his two decades on Capitol Hill, Senator Sessions has opposed legislation that provides a path to citizenship for immigrants, questioned if the Constitution guarantees citizenship to anyone born in the United States, criticized the courts for interpreting the separation of church and state too broadly, and has declared same-sex marriage a threat to American culture. He also voted against reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act, opposed the Voting Rights Act and has a history of making racist comments, including reportedly saying he thought the Ku Klux Klan was “OK until I found out they smoked pot.” In 1986, Coretta Scott King wrote a letter opposing Sessions for a federal judgeship, writing, “The irony of Mr. Sessions’ nomination is that, if confirmed, he will be given a life tenure for doing with a federal prosecution what the local sheriffs accomplished twenty years ago with clubs and cattle prods. … I believe his confirmation would have a devastating effect on not only the judicial system in Alabama, but also on the progress we have made toward fulfilling my husband’s dream.” Sessions was not confirmed for the federal judgeship in 1986, over concerns about his history of racist comments. We’ll have more on Sessions’s confirmation hearing after headlines.