President-elect Donald Trump has nominated U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Mobile, to take the role of United States attorney general in his executive cabinet — a compensatory prize for one of the first politicians to throw support behind the incoming president’s campaign.
Formerly a private lawyer in Mobile, Sessions served two years as an assistant U.S. attorney before being nominated by President Ronald Reagan to be the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Alabama.Sessions held the position for 12 years before being elected as Alabama’s attorney general in 1995. In 1996, the people of Alabama elected Sessions to the position he still holds in the Senate today.
“I have known Jeff Sessions for almost 40 years, and he has always been a person of the highest level of integrity. As a U.S. attorney in Mobile, Senator Sessions led the charge to clean up corruption in our local government,” U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-Mobile) said following news of Sessions’ nomination. “He earned respect from everyone in our community by always conducting himself in a professional and fair way.”
Others were quick to praise Sessions as well, including Alabama’s current Attorney General Luther Strange, who called the senator “a credit to our state and to our nation.”“From the day Jeff Sessions stepped foot on the floor of the United States Senate, he has never forgotten where he came from or who he represents,” Strange said. “He has worked tirelessly for the people of Alabama, fighting to bring home jobs and economic development, to secure our borders, and to ensure that our military men and women receive all the support they need to succeed—whether on the battlefield, in a veterans’ hospital, or in their civilian lives.”
Strange said Sessions would leave “big shoes to fill.”
U.S. Attorney Kenyen Brown, who currently serves in Sessions’ old position as the head of Souther District of Alabama, added to the praise for Sessions on Friday afternoon — wishing the Senator “much success in this new leadership role.”
“Jeff Sessions is a man of outstanding character with an impeccable reputation for integrity,” Brown wrote in a brief statement. “I have no doubt that he will be an outstanding U.S. Attorney General.”
However, despite the praise from several local and state officials, the move nominate Sessions for Attorney General continues a trend of controversial names that could possibly hold a spot in Trump’s cabinet.
Earlier this week, news that Trump had appointed Breitbart News Executive Chairman Steve Bannon as his chief strategist drew widespread criticism from those who say Bannon’s time overseeing content at Breitbart saw a shift to the “Alt-Right” — a group often linked to “White Supremacist” and nationalist views.
Over the last few days, as speculation about Sessions’ place in cabinet increased, the senator’s past has also been under a microscope. Ultimately, that interest unearthed old stories about Sessions’ rejection by the Senate during confirmation hearings for a federal judgeship he was nominated for in 1986.
Among other things, testimony from those hearings included multiple allegations that Sessions had shown racist behavior or made racially disparaging comments, some of which were alleged to have occurred during his time as U.S Attorney in Mobile.
So far, Sessions’ office has not issued a statement about the nomination or given any indication as to the Senator’s interest in accepting the position.
By law, if Sessions does vacate his post in the Senate, it will be up to Gov. Robert Bentley to appoint a successor to serve out the remainder of Sessions’ current congressional term.
Updated 2:10 p.m., Nov. 18, to include comments from current U.S. Attorney of the Sothern District of Alabama, Kenyen Brown.