By focusing on the transition process the media is missing the real story which is the character and record of the people being considered to serve in the Trump cabinet.
The first troubling sign came when Trump announced the appointment of campaign chairman Stephen K. Bannon as chief strategist and senior counselor. Bannon has connections to the so-called alt-right movement which promotes white nationalism. As chairman of Breitbart News, Bannon provided a platform to white supremacists’ ideology and anti-Semitic views.
Sessions is a troubling choice.
The Senate Judiciary Committee heard testimony in 1986 in which Sessions was accused of making racist remarks and calling the NAACP and ACLU “un-American.”
According to transcripts of the hearings, Sessions was accused of called the NAACP and the ACLU “un-American, Communist-inspired organizations,” joking that he thought the Ku Klux Klan “was OK” until he learned they smoked marijuana, and calling an African-American assistant U.S. attorney “boy.”
Then-Sen. Edward Kennedy heavily criticized Sessions’ record as a U.S. attorney. Kennedy said he was unqualified to be a federal judge because of his attitude toward Black people.
“Mr. Sessions is a throwback to a shameful era which I know both Black and white Americans thought was in our past. It is inconceivable to me that a person of this attitude is qualified to be a U.S. attorney, let alone a U.S. federal judge,” Kennedy said. “He is, I believe, a disgrace to the Justice Department and he should withdraw his nomination and resign his position.”
The New York Times reports that in 1981, a Justice Department prosecutor from Washington stopped by to see Jeff Sessions, the United States attorney in Mobile, Ala., at the time. The prosecutor, J. Gerald Hebert, said he had heard a shocking story: A federal judge had called a prominent white lawyer “a disgrace to his race” for representing Black clients.
“Well,” Mr. Sessions replied, according to Mr. Hebert, “maybe he is.”
He was less clear about his remarks about civil rights groups. Asked whether he ever said the NAACP hates white people or was “a commie group and a pinko organization,” Sessions said he could not recall specifically saying that. “I am loose with my tongue on occasion, and I may have said something similar to that or could be interpreted to that,” he testified.
Civil rights advocates have already raised concerns that a Trump administration would scale back efforts to force police departments to correct unconstitutional practices and other civil rights concerns.
As attorney general, Sessions would be responsible for upholding civil rights laws, and the Senate Judiciary Committee should not give their senate colleague a pass but question him thoroughly on past allegations and his current views on civil rights and civil liberties.