Luis Gutiérrez: Sessions wants blacks 'in the back of the bus again'
© Greg Nash

Rep. Luis Gutiérrez (D-Ill.) on Wednesday said that Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsHomeland Security advisory council members resign over family separations: report Once a Trump critic, Ala. rep faces runoff with his support Ryan: 'The president must appreciate that Russia is not our ally' MORE wants "black people to be in the back of the bus again." 

"Sessions, he'd just love for black people to be in the back of the bus again. He'd love for women to be in the kitchen. He'd love for gay people to be in the closet again, and for me, not to have a microphone to be able to speak to anyone," Gutiérrez said while delivering remarks at a We the People Summit, according to CNN.

The Democratic lawmaker stood by his remarks while appearing on CNN's "Erin Burnett Out Front” later on Wednesday, saying that he believes “every last thing” he said. 

"This is a man that when he came before the Senate to try to become a federal judge, Coretta Scott King came forward. There were all kinds of testimony about him calling black men boys,"said Gutierrez, who is considering running for president in 2020. "This is a man who is trying to strip black people and diminish their voting rights." 

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Sessions has frequently come under fire over allegations of racist remarks. In 1986, while serving as a U.S. attorney from Alabama, he was denied a federal judgeship after testimonies heard during hearings from the Senate Judiciary Committee alleged he made racist remarks and referred to the NAACP and ACLU as "un-American."

He addressed those charges head-on in January 2017 while testifying before Congress after being nominated by President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump says he doesn't want to use 'adversary' to describe Russia Comey urges Americans to vote for Democrats in midterms Roby wins Alabama GOP runoff, overcoming blowback from Trump criticism MORE to serve as attorney general.

“I do not harbor those kinds of animosities and race-based ideas I was accused of,” Sessions said under questioning from Sen. Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinThe Hill's Morning Report — Trump, Putin meet under cloud of Mueller’s Russia indictments Dems launch pressure campaign over migrant families California Dems endorse progressive challenger over Feinstein MORE (D-Calif.).

“I didn’t prepare well in 1986, and there was an effort to characterize me as something untrue,” he added later.

Gutiérrez's remarks on Wednesday came the same day several Democratic presidential hopefuls at the event sought to impress the left flank of their party.

"When it comes to the Violence Against Women Act -- he voted against it. ... He's never stood up for women. You can't support women against being murdered and raped and abused?” Gutierrez said on Wednesday.

"I look at the man today. The man today is trying to undermine voting rights -- voting rights in which black people in this country sacrificed their lives so we could have a Voting Rights Act, a Civil Rights Act," Gutierrez said. "Sometimes people do one good thing, but that's not really their record or their history of who they are. Look at who Jeff Sessions is today.

"I am clarifying and amplifying the positions of the extremists, which I believe is very, very important, because when you don't do that, you allow for the creation of a fascist society. You need to speak out and denounce prejudice, racism, all forms of bigotry, and I will continue to do that in the Congress of the United States."

Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) called Sessions “a racist and a liar” in April 2017 after the attorney general said he was “amazed” that a federal judge “sitting on an island in the Pacific” could halt the president's travel ban people from Muslim-majority countries coming to the US.
 
"We've got cases moving in the very, very liberal 9th Circuit, who — they've been hostile to the order," Sessions said in comments that prompted a wave of backlash. He later dismissed criticism of his remarks, saying: "Nobody has a sense of humor anymore.”