Top Dem signals likely opposition to Sessions nomination

Sen. Patty MurrayPatty MurrayInspector general reviewing HHS decision to halt ObamaCare ads Dems mock House GOP over lack of women in healthcare meeting The Hill’s Whip List: Where Dems stand on Trump’s Supreme Court nominee MORE (D-Wash.) is signaling she'll likely oppose Sen. Jeff SessionsJeff SessionsPerez: Trump ‘trying to bully law enforcement’ over sanctuary cities Sessions says grants to be withheld from sanctuary cities Cheech Marin hopes Trump voters 'starting to realize their mistake' MORE's attorney general nomination next year. 

The Washington senator — who will be the No. 3 Senate Democrat in 2017 — said the Senate rejected Sessions three decades ago because of civil rights and racism allegations and "those same concerns linger."

"I’ve seen him vote against the Violence Against Women Act, the Voting Rights Act, and hate crimes legislation," Murray said in a Facebook post. "And for these reasons and more, I have major concerns with his nomination to this position and am not sure what I could hear in this confirmation process that would allow me to support it." 

Sessions has denied the accusations that he called an African-American assistant U.S. attorney “boy” or that he called the NAACP and the American Civil Liberties Union “un-American.” He also supported the Voting Rights Act in 2006 and Eric HolderEric H. HolderOvernight Tech: Senate moving to kill FCC's internet privacy rules | Bill Gates pushes for foreign aid | Verizon, AT&T pull Google ads | Q&A with IBM's VP for cyber threat intel Uber leadership sticking by CEO Top Dems prep for future while out of the spotlight MORE's nomination to be the first African-American attorney general.  

Echoing larger concerns from Democrats, Murray added on Monday that the attorney general must be able be willing to defend the rights of all Americans equally. 

"We need to do everything we can to fight for an Attorney General who is truly committed to standing up for and protecting the rights of everyone in this country," she said. "Given Senator Sessions’s record, it is difficult to see how he could pass this most basic, most essential, test.

Murray also pointed to Sessions's immigration stances as a cause for concern, questioning if he would use his post to "pursue his anti-immigration agenda." 

Sessions is well-liked among his Senate colleagues. Republicans signaled last week that they wanted to quickly move his nomination through the upper chamber next year.  

Democrats are pledging to give Sessions a thorough grilling, though they face an uphill battle to stop his nomination. 

Sessions will only need support from a simple majority of senators to clear the upper chamber. Republicans are expected to have 52 seats next year, and Sen. Joe ManchinJoe ManchinCan Trump rebound after failure on healthcare bill? Path to 60 narrows for Trump pick Overnight Healthcare: Ryan visits White House amid healthcare rubble MORE (D-W.Va.) has said he will support Sessions. 

Five former attorneys general and five former deputy attorneys general, all of whom worked for Republican administrations, backed Sessions’s nomination in a letter Monday to Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Dianne FeinsteinDianne FeinsteinOvernight Regulation: Trump repeals 'blacklisting' rule Dems delay Senate panel vote on Supreme Court nominee Dems get it wrong: 'Originalism' is mainstream, even for liberal judges MORE (D-Calif.), the two top members of the Judiciary Committee next year.