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Trump's attorney general faces gruelling senate confirmation hearing, clarifies policies

11 Jan 2017 | By Abheet Sethi

Jeff Sessions, who has been nominated by US President-elect Donald Trump for the role of attorney general, is facing a gruelling Senate confirmation hearing, marred by protests.

Sessions's statements at the hearing provide early insight into what the Trump administrations' policies could be.

Sessions's stand on several issues, including crime, immigration, abortion, marijuana legalization, civil rights etc., have caused stiff opposition from rival Democrats.

In context: Jeff Sessions's senate confirmation hearing

11 Jan 2017Trump's attorney general faces gruelling senate confirmation hearing, clarifies policies

What the US Attorney General does

The attorney general heads the Department of Justice and represents the US government on all legal matters. He is the chief legal counsel to the US president and has important and wide ranging powers, including prosecuting cases involving the government.
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ExplainedWhat is a senate confirmation hearing?

The US Senate must decide whether to confirm or deny the appointments of high-ranking government positions by the President.

A Senate committee holds public hearings where it closely scrutinizes and questions nominees on their policy positions.

The committee then reports the nomination favourably, unfavourably or without recommendation.

Nominees are approved by a single majority vote in the Senate based on the committee's report.

ProfileWho is Jeff Sessions?

Jeff Sessions, 70, is a Republican senator from Alabama and the former attorney general of the state.

Sessions is considered to be one of the most conservative members of the Senate and is a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

He was the first senator to endorse Donald Trump.

He supported the Iraq war and opposes abortion, same-sex marriage and immigration.

Accepts abortionSessions's Senate confirmation hearing statement gives idea of Trump policies

Sessions rejected allegations of making racist comments and affirmed the importance of civil rights.

Sessions said he would recuse himself of any Justice Department investigations into Hillary Clinton over the email scandal. Sessions had earlier said the FBI should investigate Clinton more aggressively.

He said he would accept legalized abortion as "the law of the land" and respect it despite his personal opposition.

Clarifies stanceOn Muslim ban, torture and Guantanamo Bay

Sessions said neither he, nor Trump backed the President-elect's previous proposal to temporarily banning Muslims from entering America.

However, he said individuals from countries having ties to terrorism would be strongly vetted based on religion.

Sessions considers waterboarding detainees "absolutely improper and illegal." He previously opposed the ban on waterboarding.

Sessions opposes shutting down the controversial Guantanamo Bay prison.

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Alleged racist comments plagued Sessions's career

Sessions vehemently denied making racist comments over 30 years ago. The allegations, which he described as "heartbreaking," continued to plague his career. Interestingly, Sessions went on to become the ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, the very panel that rejected him in 1986.

Racist commentsMartin Luther King Jr.'s wife wrote letter condemning Sessions

In 1986, Coretta Scott King, the widow of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., wrote a letter to Congress imploring it to block Sessions's nomination for federal judge.

Sessions allegedly made racist comments and said the militant white supremacist organization Ku Klux Klan was "OK."

The Senate Judiciary Committee voted against Sessions's nomination making him the second nominee to be rejected in 50-years.

Sessions's attorney general confirmation will likely go through

The Republicans hold a majority in the US Senate and so far none of the Republicans have publicly opposed Sessions's nomination. As a result, despite attempts by rival Democrats to rally against Sessions, he will likely be confirmed as Trump's attorney general.

12 Jan 2017Sessions promises H-1B curbs

Jeff Sessions, Donald Trump's pick for Attorney General has promised to push legislative measures to curb the "misuse" of H-1B and L1 visas, used primarily by Indian professionals.

He said it was "wrong to think" that "any American with a job can be replaced" by someone for less pay.

He made the statements during his confirmation hearing for the Attorney General post.

08 Feb 2017Republican senators vote to formally silence Democrat Elizabeth Warren

Republican senators voted to formally silence their Democratic colleague Senator Elizabeth Warren for impugning a peer.

Warren had condemned Senator Jeff Sessions's nomination for attorney general in a speech in Senate.

Warren was reading a 1986 letter by civil rights activist Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr's wife Coretta Scott King that criticized Sessions's civil rights record.

Democrats rally behind Warren, #LetLizSpeak trends online

Democrats took up Warren's cause urging Republicans to "#LetLizSpeak" online, a hashtag that went viral. Warren said the Republicans had "silenced Mrs. King's voice." Warren later read the entire letter on Facebook, which was viewed over 30 million times.

09 Feb 2017Senate confirms Jeff Sessions as Trump's attorney general

The US Senate has voted 52-47 in favour of confirming Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions nomination for President Donald Trump's attorney general.

Sessions will now take charge over the US Department of Justice.

The move comes after a series of divisive hearings in which rival Democrats attacked Sessions's civil rights record.

His nomination was among the most controversial in Trump's administration.