The Hill will be following the Senate Judiciary Committee's confirmation hearing for Sen. Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsOvernight Hillicon Valley — Apple issues security update against spyware vulnerability Stanford professors ask DOJ to stop looking for Chinese spies at universities in US Overnight Energy & Environment — Democrats detail clean electricity program MORE (R-Ala.), President-elect Donald TrumpDonald TrumpCheney says a lot of GOP lawmakers have privately encouraged her fight against Trump Republicans criticizing Afghan refugees face risks DeVos says 'principles have been overtaken by personalities' in GOP MORE's pick to be the next attorney general. Keep it here for live coverage.
Grassley wraps up Day 1
Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck GrassleyChuck GrassleyGrassley announces reelection bid The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Alibaba - Democrats argue price before policy amid scramble Congress facing shutdown, debt crisis with no plan B MORE (R-Iowa) brought the first of two days of hearings on Sessions' nomination to a close after more than 10 hours of testimony.
Grassley expressed optimism about Sessions' nomination, describing him as "imminently qualified" for the job.
"He will be the next attorney general," Grassley told reporters after the hearing.
The committee will reconvene at 9:30 a.m. on Wednesday for a second hearing on Sessions' confirmation.
Sessions supports visa reforms
When questioned by Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Sessions said he believes the country's visa programs have been abused.
Sessions said he supports Grassley's legislation to reform the H-1B and L-1 visa programs.
"It needs to be addressed," Sessions said, pushing back on the idea that anyone can be replaced by someone willing to do the job for less.
Sessions won't commit to protecting DREAMers
Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) pressed Sessions for a commitment to protect from deportation the undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children, often referred to as DREAMers.
"I'm asking for your commitment that those young people won't be deported," he said.
Sessions said that cohort of individuals should not be targeted by immigration enforcement, but he did not promise to protect them.
Sessions asked again about DACA/Dreamers: "That cohort of individuals should not be targeted…" but "really a Homeland Security question"— Keegan Hamilton (@keegan_hamilton) January 11, 2017
Until he has a chance to think it through and study the law, Sessions said he will not opine on whether DREAMers will be allowed to stay in the country.
Sessions on using dreamers information: "I would not want to be a position to say that it could never be used."— NPR Politics (@nprpolitics) January 11, 2017
Franken questions Sessions about CNN report
When the committee returned from break, Sen. Al FrankenAlan (Al) Stuart FrankenFranken targets senators from both parties in new comedy tour Al Franken on another Senate run: 'I'm keeping my options open' Andrew Cuomo and the death of shame MORE (D-Minn.) questioned Sessions about a CNN report that intelligence officials notified Donald Trump of allegations that Russian operatives have compromising personal and financial information on the president-elect.
Franken asked Sessions what he’d do if it comes out that anyone affiliated with the Trump campaign was also affiliated with the Russian government.
"I'm not aware of any of those activities," Sessions said. "I'm unable to comment."
Franken then asked if Sessions knew what compromising financial and personal information Russia claims to hold.
"I have no information about this matter," Sessions said. "I have not been in on classified briefings and I'm not a member of the intelligence agency."
Sessions: I do not support Muslim-American registry
Sessions said he doesn't support a Muslim registry for U.S. citizens, when asked by Sen. Mazie HironoMazie Keiko HironoDemocrats urge Biden to go all in with agenda in limbo 11 senators urge House to pass .5T package before infrastructure bill Dems punch back over GOP holdup of Biden SBA nominee MORE (D-Hawaii) at the top of the ninth hour of Tuesday's hearing.
Hirono asked if such a registry would create constitutional problems.
Sessions said it would raise serious constitutional problems because the Constitution provides the right to free exercise of religion.
"… And it includes Muslims for sure," he said. "I do not believe they should be treated differently."
Sen. Mazie Hirono, citing Japanese internment camps, asked #Sessions about registrations of Muslim U.S. citizens. Is it constitutional?— 梅子 Umeko (@matsutake97) January 10, 2017
Sessions hammered on awards
Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) pressed Sessions on whether he'll return the awards he's received from what he dubbed radical groups such as the Federation for Fair Immigration Reform.
Blumenthal noted that the leader of that group has advocated for a pure European-American society and charged that Sessions failed to disclose a number of awards from controversial groups on his committee questionnaire.
"Will you return the award?" Blumenthal asked.
Sessions pushed back, noting that he’s received hundreds of awards over the course of his career, prompting Blumenthal asked how Americans can be confident that he'll enforce anti-discrimination laws after accepting awards from radical groups.
"I don't feel like it's right to judge me and give back an award if I don't agree with every policy of the organization that gave the award," Sessions said.
"It wouldn't be proper for you to insist I am improper for the position of attorney general because I did not give back the awards."
Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamNorth Dakota Republican latest House breakthrough COVID-19 case Texas House Republican tests positive for coronavirus in latest breakthrough case Graham told Trump he 'f'd up' the presidency: book MORE (R-S.C.), followed up, noting that he’s received one of the same awards as Sessions.
“I’m pretty sure you’re not a closet bigot and I got the same award,“ Graham said.
Sessions pressed on Trump's claims of voter fraud
Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) asked Sessions if he agrees with President-elect Donald Trump, who has claimed on Twitter that millions of fraudulent votes were cast in the presidential election.
Sessions said he doesn't know what Trump meant by that statement, but said elections needs to be managed closely.
"I do believe we regularly have fraudulent activity happen during an election cycle," he said.
Franken: "Do you agree with Trump that millions of fraudulent votes were cast?"— Ari Berman (@AriBerman) January 10, 2017
Sessions: "I do believe we regularly have fraud"
Sessions gets question on climate change
Sen. Sheldon WhitehouseSheldon WhitehousePlastics industry lashes out at 'regressive' Democratic tax plan Democrats draw red lines in spending fight What Republicans should demand in exchange for raising the debt ceiling MORE (D-R.I.), noting he comes from an ocean state, asked if Sessions would use “real facts and real science” if he has to deal with the issue of climate change.
“That’s a good and fair question,” he responded. “Honesty and integrity in that process is required and if the facts justify a position on one side or another on a case, I would try to utilize those facts.”
“I don’t deny we have global warming,” he added. “It’s a question of how much is happening and what the reaction would be to it.”
Whitehouse also asked if Sessions believes a secular person has the same understanding of the truth as a religious individual.
“Well, I’m not sure,” Sessions responded, adding, “We’re going to treat anybody with difference views fairly and objectively.”
Sen. Whitehouse asks Sessions whether a secular individual has an equal understanding of truth as a religious one:— Phil Mattingly (@Phil_Mattingly) January 10, 2017
"Well, I'm not sure."
On issue of religion, Sessions says "We’re going to treat anybody with different views fairly and objectively" at DOJ— Seung Min Kim (@seungminkim) January 10, 2017
Sessions on guns
Freshman Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) asked Sessions about his views on the Second Amendment.
"I do believe the Second Amendment is a personal right, a historical right that the Constitution protects," he said.
However, he added that certain people can forfeit their right to own a gun and noted that possessing a gun when committing a crime can increase a potential sentence.
"I think that's a legitimate constraint on the right to bear arms," he said.
Kennedy also asked for Sessions’ take on the Freedom of Information Act.
“The Freedom of Information Act is law and I would see it’s carried out,” Sessions said. “The policies of the country need to be followed.”
Hatch praises Sessions for standing up for his beliefs
Sen. Orrin HatchOrrin Grant HatchLobbying world Congress, stop holding 'Dreamers' hostage Drug prices are declining amid inflation fears MORE (R-Utah) praised Sessions during his second round of questions for his colleague, saying he could personally testify to what a fine man Sessions is.
"I have respect for you because you stand up for what you believe, no matter how wrong you've been," he said, drawing laughter from the crowd.
Hatch said he wants to get Sessions confirmed as soon as possible and added that he's proud of his GOP colleague.
Durbin presses Sessions on recusals
Sen. Dick DurbinDick DurbinDemocrats urge Biden to go all in with agenda in limbo Schumer sets Monday showdown on debt ceiling-government funding bill Democrats surprised, caught off guard by 'framework' deal MORE (D-Ill.) asked Sessions if he'd recuse himself from any investigations into the Trump campaign or anyone who was part of the Trump campaign having any involvement into Russia's interference in the presidential election.
Sessions said earlier that he would recuse himself from any investigations into Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonDemocrats worry negative images are defining White House Heller won't say if Biden won election Whitmer trailing GOP challenger by 6 points in Michigan governor race: poll MORE's use of a private email server because he made comments during her campaign that could be construed as having an opinion.
He said he doesn't believe he made any such comments about Trump.
"I would review it and try to do the right thing as to whether it should stay within the jurisdiction of the attorney general or not," he said.
Leahy asks Sessions if groping women is a sex assault
Sen. Patrick LeahyPatrick Joseph LeahyPhotos of the Week: Renewable energy, gymnast testimonies and a Met Gala dress Senators denounce protest staged outside home of Justice Kavanaugh Al Franken on another Senate run: 'I'm keeping my options open' MORE (D-Vt.) asked Sessions if he considers grabbing a woman by her genitals without her consent to be a sexual assault.
"Clearly it would be," Sessions said.
Leahy went on to ask Sessions if he could prosecute a sitting president who's been accused of grabbing a woman by her genitals, a clear reference to the 2005 tape that surfaced during the campaign that featured Donald Trump bragging about grabbing women’s crotches without permission.
Sessions said the president would be subject to the same lawful restrictions, but claimed he did not know whether Trump's remarks constituted an unwanted action.
Leahy asked Sessions again if grabbing women without her consent is a sexual assault.
"Yes," Session said.
That’s different from his answer in October, when he told the Weekly Standard: “I don't characterize that as sexual assault. I think that's a stretch.”
Hirono presses Sessions on Roe v. Wade
Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) asked Sessions if he'd advise his solicitor general to weigh in should the Supreme Court consider a repeal of Roe v. Wade.
"You're asking a hypothetical question," Sessions said. "I would not be able to predict what a well-researched and thoughtful response would be to matters that could happen in the future."
Hirono pressed the question, noting that the next time the Supreme Court has an opportunity rule on Roe v. Wade, its the decision would likely come down 5-4.
"It's not a hypothetical, it's a real concern for a lot of people" she said.
Sessions says he'll guard against regulatory overreach
Sen. Mike CrapoMichael (Mike) Dean CrapoThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Alibaba - Biden jumps into frenzied Dem spending talks GOP senators say Biden COVID-19 strategy has 'exacerbated vaccine hesitancy' The Energy Sector Innovation Credit Act is an industry game-changer MORE (R-Idaho) asked Sessions if the Department of Justice has to defend federal agencies that overreach their executive authority.
Sessions said federal agencies have been focused on their own agendas and have not asked for the DOJ's opinion on whether their interpretation of a statute is sound or not.
"Basically these agencies are set about their own agendas ... and not giving respect to the rule of law and asking did Congress really intend this," he said.
"Those are kind of things we need to guard against."
Sessions will protect women's right to abortion
Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) noted that Sessions has been endorsed by a group called Operation Rescue, which he said has been accused of advocating for the execution of abortion providers.
After he displayed a wanted poster disseminated by the group, he asked Sessions if he would disavow the group's endorsement as attorney general. (The group released a statement Tuesday afternoon blasting the way Blumenthal's characterization.)
"I disavow any activity like that or a group that would even suggest that is unacceptable," Sessions said.
"I would enforce the laws that make clear a person that wants to receive a lawful abortion cannot be blocked by protesters."
Sessions said he's not in favor of abortion, but will enforce the law.
Sessions not planning to vote on own nomination
Blumenthal started his line of questioning by asking Sessions if he'll recuse himself from voting on his own nomination and the nominations of other Cabinet nominees.
"I do not have plans to vote on my nomination," he said. “I think there could be a conflict of interest” or “violation of ethics rules” by doing so he said, adding, “I will comply with the rules.”
Blumenthal said it would be a conflict of interest for Sessions to vote to confirm other Cabinet secretaries as well.
"I hope you will consider recusing yourself from those votes as well," he said. "I think it will set a tone for what you'd do in cases of conflicts of interest."
The committee Democrats highlighted Blumenthal's line of questioning on Twitter, saying it's "important" Sessions clarify how he'll avoid conflicts of interest.
Sessions was also asked whether he’d appoint special counsel should President-elect Donald Trump or a member of his family violate the emoluments clause or STOCK Act, but sidestepped the question.
Sessions sidesteps Qs from Sen.Blumenthal abt whether he wld appoint a sp.counsel if Trump/his fam violates emoluments clause or STOCK Act— Megan R. Wilson (@misswilson) January 10, 2017
More protests erupt after lunch break
Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzFBI investigating alleged assault on Fort Bliss soldier at Afghan refugee camp The Memo: Biden's immigration problems reach crescendo in Del Rio Matthew McConaughey on potential political run: 'I'm measuring it' MORE (R-Texas) was interrupted while giving his opening statement at the start of the second half of Tuesday's hearing by three different protestors.
"You are a racist. You have ties to the KKK," screamed the first. "Black Lives matter."
Another person stood and began to yell as Capitol Police removed the first protester from the room, shouting, "You are the most anti-immigrant senator in the United States."
When the second protester had been removed, a third stood and shouted, "Senator Sessions does not support the rights of African-Americans. Senators do your job."
"Free speech is a wonderful thing," Cruz said after the protesters had been removed.
At least 10 of the protesters arrested so far today attend Howard University in Washington, D.C., according to the school.
BREAKING: Approx. 10 @HowardU students have been arrested after protesting confirmation hearing of Sen. Jeff Sessions as AG. Details soon.— The Hilltop (@TheHilltopHU) January 10, 2017
Coons asks about hitching posts, chain gangs
Sen. Chris CoonsChris Andrew CoonsDems punch back over GOP holdup of Biden SBA nominee Biden threatens more sanctions on Ethiopia, Eritrea over Tigray conflict Senate Democrats to Garland: 'It's time to end the federal death penalty' MORE (D-Del.) questioned Sessions about Alabama's former use of a hitching posts and chain gangs to punish inmates while they work.
Coons alleged that Sessions continued to allow prisoners to be handcuffed to a hitching post of chest height for up to eight hours and chain groups of five men together – even after being told it was unconstitutional.
"The Supreme Court said it's clearly unconstitutional. Can you tell me your view today of the use of the hitching post and chain gang?" he asked.
Sessions said it is crystal clear the practices are unconstitutional.
"I would absolutely follow the law," he added.
Tricky to 'work' when tied to a hitching post, ain't it, Sessions?— Jeffrey Wright (@jfreewright) January 10, 2017
Grassley says Sessions has knocked it out of the park
In a statement released during the lunch break, Senate Judiciary Chair Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) called Sessions "well-prepared."
“It’s clear that Senator Sessions is very well prepared and is demonstrating to the American people what all of us have known," he said.
Sessions vehemently defended his record and denied accusations that he is a racist this morning during what was otherwise cordial questioning from committee members.
Al Franken is the first Senator today to look and sound like he loathes Sessions and skip all the buddy-buddy crap. It is welcome.— Mark Harris (@MarkHarrisNYC) January 10, 2017
Protests continue as hearing breaks for lunch
"Come on Feinstein ask a real question," a protester yelled as the hearing recessed for a lunch break.
"We just legalized marijuana in Massachusetts, are we going to get arrested?" another asked.
Franken doubts Sessions' involvement in desegregation cases
Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) accused Sessions of misrepresenting his record, raising questions about whether Sessions actually prosecuted the 20 or 30 desegregation cases he claimed to in a 2009 interview.
Sessions said there could have fewer cases because his level of involvement was different across the spectrum of cases.
"What caused you to say that?" Franken asked.
The line of questioning annoyed Sessions, who said some of the cases were started before he became the state attorney general and others continued after he left.
"Our country needs an attorney general who doesn't overstate his involvement," Franken said.
Sessions said he provided assistance and guidance to civil rights attorneys and cooperated with them on a number of cases, even if he wasn't the lead attorney.
"If I'm in error I apologize to you but I don't think I was," Sessions said.
Yes, come on @senfranken question his record!— Danyelle Solomon (@danyindc) January 10, 2017
Sessions: Voting Rights Act ‘intrusive’ but ‘justified’
Sen. Amy KlobucharAmy KlobucharHillicon Valley — Presented by Xerox — Officials want action on cyberattacks Senate panel advances antitrust bill that eyes Google, Facebook This week: Democrats face mounting headaches MORE (D-N.Y.) led the Democratic charge to dig into how Sessions would approach voting rights and his support for voter ID laws that liberals say disenfranchise minorities.
Sessions said the Voting Rights Act – which he voted to extend in 2013 – is “intrusive,” as the term is legally defined, because it applies only to a handful of offending states.
But he launched into passionate defense of the law.
“The Voting Rights Act passed in 1965 was one of the most important acts to deal with racial difficulties we face and it changed the course of history, particularly in the South…where there were discriminatory activities, states systematically denying individuals the right to vote. You can see plainly the actions and procedures adopted to block African Americans from voting. It was just wrong and the Voting Rights Act confronted that.”
Still, Sessions voiced his support for voter ID laws, which he said would not keep minorities from voting. Liberals strongly disagree.
Another protester removed
Another protester stood and loudly said "Senator Sessions is a racist" while Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) questioned the Alabama senator about voting rights laws.
This protester was more subdued than the others.
Moments later, another man stood and yelled, "We pay taxes."
"You are supported by hate groups."
After Capitol Police removed him from the room, a woman stood and said Sessions supports the creation of a Muslim registry.
"He's racist and Islamophobic," she yelled.
Police removed her too.
Sessions never chanted 'Lock her up'
Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) asked Sessions if he ever chanted "Lock her up" during Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign.
"No I did not, Sessions said. "I heard it at rallies and such."
Sessions admitted that has has said a few things in opposition to Clinton's presidency which is one of the reasons why he said he shouldn't make any decisions about bringing a case against her.
Sessions says he'd recuse himself from Clinton Foundation investigation and notes he never chanted "Lock Her Up" at a Trump rally.— Kevin Cirilli (@kevcirilli) January 10, 2017
You’re under oath, senator
Noting that one situation should not be used to characterize the totality of a person, Sen. John CornynJohn CornynAbbott bows to Trump pressure on Texas election audit Senate panel advances antitrust bill that eyes Google, Facebook Democrats up ante in risky debt ceiling fight MORE (R-Texas) asked Sessions if he has ever disagreed with his wife of 47 years.
"No, Senator," Sessions said, drawing laughs from the crowded hearing room.
"Wait a minute, I'm under oath. We do occasionally," he said.
Dems fret over fate of DACA
Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) was the second Democrat to press Sessions on how he would treat the young people in the country illegally who are protected from deportation and can legally work under President Obama's executive action, known as DACA.
Sessions would not say what would become of these estimated 800,000 people under his Justice Department, but said his priority will likely be to deport illegal immigrants who have committed other crimes here.
"As you know, we’re not able financially or any other way to seek out and remove everyone in the country illegally," Sessions said.
But he has not been specific about what would become of the so-called DREAMers, saying only that he would enforce the laws as they are passed by Congress.
"That does not answer the question of the 800,000 that will be left in the lurch," Durbin fumed.
Session has been asked twice now what will happen to immigrant kids if Trump repeals DACA. He has dodged both both times… *warning lights*— Charles M. Blow (@CharlesMBlow) January 10, 2017
Sessions says it has been "painful" to be cast as a racist
Bonding over their shared Southern names, Lindsey Graham gave Jeffrey Beauregard Sessions an opportunity to say how it felt for him to be called a racist and denied a federal judgeship in 1986 because of it.
Both said the accusations carried more weight because they are conservatives from the South.
"You have a southern name, you come from south Alabama, that sounds worse," Sessions said. "I didn’t prepare well in 1986 and there was an effort characterize me as something untrue. It was very painful. It wasn’t accurate then and it’s not accurate now. As a Southerner who saw discrimination, I have no doubt it existed in a negative and powerful way to millions of people in the South. I know that was wrong and we need to do better we can never go back."
Graham clearing the room
For the second time during Graham's questioning, protesters interrupted, this time screaming "Sessions is a racist."
Graham was giving Sessions the opportunity to talk about how he feels about being pegged a racist.
"If nothing else I'm clearing the room," Graham joked while the protesters were being removed.
Protests again erupt in hearing
While Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) was asking Sessions if he supports the closing of the Guantanamo Bay detention facility, protesters stood and screamed "No Trump, No Pence, No fascist U.S.A."
"In the name if humanity, no Trump, no KKK, no fascist U.S.A.," two protesters yelled.
Once the protesters were out the door Graham joked, "I think they're on the fence about closing Guantanamo Bay."
DACA on shaky ground with Sessions
Sessions said he finds President Obama's executive actions protecting about 800,000 young people in the country illegally from deportation "Constitutionally questionable."
He did not say whether Trump plans to repeal the order or whether he would look to deport the so-called DREAMers.
Sessions does not support a ban on Muslims entering the country
Sessions said he does not support President-elect Trump’s campaign proposal to temporarily ban all Muslims from entering the country.
Instead, he said he supports Trump's proposed "extreme vetting" of immigrants coming from dangerous regions.
However, Sessions said a person's religion could be a factor if they're, for example, an extremist who wants to harm Americans.
Sessions promises to enforce laws protecting LGBT people
Leahy pressed Sessions on past remarks in which he seemed to question the need for anti-discrimination laws protecting LGBT people. He asked Sessions whether he would enforce a 2010 law expanding hate crime protections to LGBT Americans, despite calling the bill unwarranted and possibly unconstitutional in the past.
"The law has passed," Sessions said. "Congress has spoken. You can ensure I will enforce it."
Leahy gets heated with Sessions for opposing Violence Against Women Act
Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) questioned Sessions on accusations that he voted against the Violence Against Women Act.
Sessions said he supported the legislation when it passed but in the last cycle decided to join Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) on a bill he thought was preferable.
"I supported his bill that had tougher penalties," he said. "It is frustrating to get accused of opposing the Violence Against Women Act when I voted for it in the past."
That response infuriated Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), who insisted that Sessions voted against the final bill as it passed and demanded to know why.
"Let's deal with the facts and what you actually voted for," Leahy said. "I’m talking about the bill that is law today and that passed by an overwhelming margin. I’m asking about that. Why did you oppose it!"
Sessions vehemently denies racist accusations
Calling it a “caricature,” Sessions again denies the charges brought against him in his hearing for a federal judgeship in 1986 accusing him of being a racist.
"I do not harbor those kinds of animosities and race-based ideas I was accused of," Sessions said under questioning from Feinstein.
Sessions will uphold Roe v. Wade
Sessions said he still believes Roe v. Wade is the worst Supreme Court decision of all time but it's the law of the land and deserves respect.
"It’s the law of the land, established and settled for a long time. It deserves respect and I would respect and follow it."
Feinstein pressed Sessions on social issues like abortion and gay marriage. Sessions said he'll also honor the Supreme Court's ruling on same-sex marriage.
Sessions would recuse himself from any investigation involving the Clintons
Under questioning from Grassley, Sessions says he would recuse himself from any potential investigation into Hillary Clinton's email set-up or the Clinton Foundation. He says the politically charged comments he made about the Clintons during the contentious campaign would give the appearance that he isn't impartial.
"I believe that could place my objectivity in question," Sessions said. "I believe the proper thing would be for me to recuse myself."
That would potentially throw the investigation to a deputy attorney general beneath Sessions, should the case arise.
Would Sessions buck Trump?
Sessions says he'll "resist improper or unacceptable actions," even if they come from the president.
Grassley asked Sessions whether he would go against the president if asked to do something he believes to be unlawful.
"I understand the responsibility of the attorney general and I will do so. You simply have to help the president do things he might desire in a lawful way, and you have to be willing to say no…I understand that duty and I will fulfill that responsibility."
He said he will enforce the law even if he disagrees with the underlying policy.
Sessions addresses allegations of racism
In his opening remarks, Sessions addressed allegations that he is racist and that as a U.S. attorney he wrongly pursued a voting rights case against black civil rights activists.
"I was accused, amazingly, of harboring sensibilities for the KKK. These are false allegations ... I abhor the Klan and what it represents and its hateful ideology."
Sessions defended the case of voter fraud he brought against the black activists, saying the case was proposed by African-Americans who said their ballots had been stolen and altered. He also touted a hate crime he prosecuted against a member of the Ku Klux Klan that resulted in an execution.
Sessions, who was accused in 1986 of making racially insensitive remarks, attacked those charges head on.
"I never declared the NAACP un-American or a civil rights attorney a disgrace to his race," he said. "There is nothing I'm more proud of than my 14 years in the Department of Justice."
Sessions lays out priorities as AG
Sessions says that improving relations between police and the communities they serve will be a "top priority,” especially in minority neighborhoods.
He also said he would crack down on terror, and that “protecting from the scourge of radical Islamic terrorism will be a priority.” Sessions said he will look to stop the flow of drugs coming illegally across the Southern border, will protect the U.S. Treasury from fraud, waste and abuse, and would aggressively enforce laws to ensure access to the ballot “without hindrance or discrimination.”
The Khans on hand to protest Sessions nomination
The Khans in the third row behind sessions pic.twitter.com/E9z0C9yk6j— Dave Weigel (@daveweigel) January 10, 2017
Protesters dragged out of hearing
As Sessions gives his opening remarks, a man stands up shouting "No Trump, No KKK, No fascist U.S.A.!" He is dragged screaming from the grounds. Another woman pops up shouting the same thing and is escorted out.
Capitol Police have a zero tolerance at Sessions's hearing
A woman was pulled from the hearing room after she laughed during Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsLooking to the past to secure America's clean energy future Collins to endorse LePage in Maine governor comeback bid McConnell privately urged GOP senators to oppose debt ceiling hike MORE's (R-Maine) testimony in support of Sessions.
"I didn't do anything wrong," she yelled when police tried to remove her from the room. "Why am I getting arrested."
On her way out the door she screamed "You are evil" to Sessions.
Sen. Collins asks colleagues to think of the late Arlen Specter
Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) noted the late Sen. Arlen Specter, who cast one of the deciding votes to derail Sessions's nomination to a federal district court in 1986, regretted that vote.
"When asked if he regretted more than 10,000 votes he had cast, he cited just one," she said.
Collins explained that once Specter got the opportunity to know Sessions, he changed his mind. She touted Sessions's work on a prison rape bill, another bill that reduced the sentencing disparity between crack and cocaine, and one helping the victims of child abuse. Collins said Sessions was the first person to sponsor an African-American for inclusion in a Lion's Club in Alabama.
This one from Code Pink. Two women are escorted out.
Shelby says Sessions is the victim of a smear campaign
Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) expresses frustration with media coverage and attacks against Sessions nomination.
"Unfortunately, since the announcement of his nomination, Jeff’s political opponents have attacked his character with baseless accusations," Shelby said.
Sessions conservative record under scrutiny by Democrats
Feinstein has just ticked through a laundry list of concerns Democrats will raise throughout the day about Sessions's past voting record.
She said there is "so much fear" in the country right now, particularly within the African-American community. Feinstein said there are concerns about Sessions commitment to civil rights, including his opposition to a hate crimes law that would cover sexual orientation.
"We cannot ignore that there are deep concerns and anxieties and deep fear about what a Trump presidency will bring and this is the context that we must consider Sen. Sessions for attorney general," Feinstein said.
Feinstein sets tone for Democrats
Judiciary ranking Democrat Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinFederal watchdog calls on Congress, Energy Dept. to overhaul nuclear waste storage process Senate advances Biden consumer bureau pick after panel logjam Republicans caught in California's recall trap MORE set the tone for Democrats. She acknowledged it will be difficult to vet one of their colleagues, but said they are evaluating him based on how he would be attorney general, not how they feel about him as a senator.
Much of her focus is on ensuring that Sessions is not beholden to the whims of President-elect Donald Trump.
"As attorney general, he will not be asked to advocate for his beliefs, but to advocate for the law … even if he disagrees with the president … most importantly, his job will be to enforce federal law equally – equally – for all Americans. He his held accountable to the people, not the president."
Grassley highlights Sessions prosecution of a Klansman
Judiciary chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) lauded Sessions's record as a U.S. attorney and Attorney General of Alabama. Race is set to play a big part of the hearing today, and Grassley highlighted a case Sessions prosecuted against a member of the Ku Klux Klan. Sessions got the death penalty for the Klansman.
Sessions arrives and is greeted with protest
Two men dressed as members of the Klu Klux Klan stood up when Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) arrived at the first day of his confirmation hearing and said, "Here we are Jefferson Beauregard Sessions," using the senator's middle name.
When Capitol Police tried to remove the men from the room one yelled, "Wait a minute you can't arrest me I'm white. White people don't get arrested."
Sen. Sessions greeted by protesters at first day of confirmation hearings. pic.twitter.com/OOwVoU36TH— Lydia Wheeler (@WheelerLydia) January 10, 2017
GOP highlights Condoleeza Rice endorsement
The Senate Judiciary Committee Press Office for the Majority provided reporters with list of people who have endorsed Sen. Jeff Sessions for Attorney General on the first day of his confirmation hearing. The list is seven-and-a-half pages long.
The first person on the list is former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice.
Press provided list of people who have endorsed #Sessions. Includes Condoleeza Rice and former U.S. AGs William Barr and Alberto Gonzales.— Lydia Wheeler (@WheelerLydia) January 10, 2017