The pick of U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions to be U.S. attorney general may have angered liberals and many on the far Left, like Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren.
But law enforcement officials and criminal justice experts are rallying behind the pick of the Alabama Republican.
“I’m hopeful that the destructive rhetoric and actions initiated by the president and often echoed by Attorney General Holder that divides law enforcement from the citizens … becomes a distant memory under Sen. Sessions’ leadership.”
If confirmed by the Senate, Sessions will be the 84th attorney general. He would preside over the Justice Department, all U.S. attorneys and the FBI.
“Senator Sessions is a former assistant U.S. attorney and U.S. attorney, which suggests he has worked as a line prosecutor and a chief federal prosecutor so he understands how cases move through the federal system, how they are prioritized, how decisions on prosecution are made and advanced (or declined),” said Ronald T. Hosko, a former assistant director of the FBI. “He’s no novice or stranger to it.”
Support from Sessions from such voices, and from the Republican base, will be crucial in the weeks following Trump’s Friday announcement that the Alabama Republican would be the nation’s top cop.
[lz_ndn video= 31650828]
Warren, despite being a Senate colleague, has thrown decorum to wind and launched personal attacks on Sessions, suggesting he is a racist.
“Instead of embracing the bigotry that fueled his campaign rallies, I urge President-elect Trump to reverse his apparent decision to nominate Senator Sessions to be attorney general of the United States,” Warren said in a statement. “If he refuses, then it will fall to the Senate to exercise fundamental moral leadership for our nation and all of its people.”
Sessions has been a U.S. prosecutor. His nomination to be a U.S. judge was narrowly defeated in a U.S. Senate committee in 1986, by a vote of 10-to-8. Eight Republicans voted to confirm Sessions.
But eight Democrats were joined by two Republicans, including Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, who later switched parties in 2009. Yet that same year, Specter apologized for his “no” vote.
Sessions was later elected attorney general of Alabama in 1994. And in 1996, he became only the second Republican elected to the U.S. Senate from Alabama.
[lz_third_party align=center includes=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cuHPkRmCKMo]
Insiders believe Sessions holds no grudges. But it is the perspective being from a neglected red state that could help Sessions govern well, says Hosko. Both of President Obama’s attorneys general were from the liberal state of New York.
And both Eric Holder and Loretta Lynch seemed too inured to the political and not the policy implications of many of their decisions and actions.
“Because he is from the South, I suspect he’ll bring in different, and perhaps needed, ‘middle American/heartland’ perspectives, as compared to Attorneys General Holder and Lynch, who were both from urban Northeastern districts,” says Hosko. “Ideally, those perspectives will be more reflective of all Americans.”
Sessions’ former peers say the nomination is a solid one.
“Sen. Sessions is uniquely equipped to be the chief law enforcement officer in our nation and to lead the Department of Justice,” said Steven H. Cook, the president of the National Association of Assistant U.S. Attorneys. “He has extensive experience having been a former assistant U.S. attorney, former U.S. attorney, former Alabama attorney general, and then [serving] a fourth term in the senate and longtime member of the Senate Judiciary Committee. I can’t imagine there’s anybody with more relevant experience out there.”
The selection of Sessions has brought wailing from the New York Times, which seeks to use the 1986 hearings against him. And there are signs the Left has over-reached. On Friday night, Fox News host Tucker Carlson lit into The Hill columnist Jonathan Allen for suggesting Sessions supports racist policies.
Law enforcement experts hope Sessions can focus on fixing problems in the present. Hosko believes a top priority for Sessions will be to show support for all law enforcement, something he said was lacking in the Obama administration.
“I’m hopeful that the destructive rhetoric and actions initiated by the president and often echoed by Attorney General Holder that divides law enforcement from the citizens and helps create distrust becomes a distant memory under Sen. Sessions’ leadership of the Justice Department,” said Hosko.
LifeZette political reporter Edmund Kozak contributed to this report.