Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III

Attorney General

  • 1985 Tries and fails to prosecute three black men for voter fraud in a case strongly suspected of selective prosecution based on race, which leads to him losing senate confirmation for judgeship. (WaPo)(NewRepublic)
  • 1986 Senate hearing that ultimately rejects Sessions for a federal judgeship questions his many controversial quotes. 21 people testify over 19 hours:
    • “Organizations like the NAACP “force civil rights down the throats of people.” (WaPo)
    • “I though those guys [the Ku Klux Klan] were OK until I learned they smoked pot.” (WaPo)
    • “You know the NAACP hates white people; they are out to get them. That is why they bring these lawsuits, and they are a commie group and a pinko organization as well.” He denies ever saying this but that he would call his Methodist Church a bunch of pinkos. (WaPo)
    • “You ought to be careful as to what you say to white folks.” Said he was admonishing a black person to be deferential out of instinct, not premeditation. (WaPo)
    • “I wish I could decline all of them,” in reference to all civil rights cases coming through his office as U.S. Attorney, during an investigation into a civil rights case he tried to close. (Wikipedia)
  • In the race for Attorney General of Alabama in 1994, criticism by Senator Edward Kennedy calling him a “throw-back to a shameful era” and a “disgrace” actually helped him along with conservatives in the state. (Wikipedia)
  • As Alabama AG, leads the defense of a school funding model ultimately found unconstitutional because of its distinct segregation effects. (AL.com)(NYT)
  • As Alabama AG, participates in countless capital punishment trials in which the appointed defense attorneys' pay is capped at $1000, where judges regularly overturn jury decisions to not execute mentally retarded defendants, and where racial bias is the norm. (NYT)
  • Promotes a bill seeking to eliminate a stage of the capital appeals process and another to execute people convicted twice of drug trafficking. (NYT)
  • 1996 Works actively to prohibit the recognition and funding of student Gay-Straight Alliances at several universities. Is sued and actions are deemed in violation of First Amendment rights in federal court. (source)
  • As U.S. senator, vehemently opposes illegal immigration and is a proponent of reducing legal immigration from certain countries: “Fundamentally, almost no one coming from the Dominican Republic to the United States is coming because they have a skill that would benefit us and that would indicate their likely success in our society.” (NYT)(ABCNews)
  • As U.S. senator, consistently blocks the appointment of black judges on account that they are black. (MotherJones)
  • 1999 On C-SPAN, as senator, declares that the American people deserve to know whether President Clinton lied under oath. (See March 2017 entries)(HuffPo)(the video)
  • 2005 Speaks at a pro-Iraq War rally and against anti-war demonstrators. (Antiwar.com)
  • 10/5/05 Votes against a ban on cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment or punishment of prisoners proposed by John McCain and loses 90-9. (TheGuardian)(GovTrack.com)
  • 6/27/06 Votes for a Constitutional ban on flag desecration. (Issues2000.org)
  • 2009 Votes against the Matthew Shepard Act, a basic expansion of federal hate-crime law, and loses. (Wikipedia)
  • 2014 Votes against expanding benefits and access to care for veterans and loses 93-3. (WaPo)
  • Identifies as a strong proponent of civil forfeiture, the seizure of private property by local, state and federal forces. (RollCall) Opposes “any form” of civil forfeiture reform. (WaPo)
  • 1/3/16 Sends pizza and soda to six protesters from the N.A.A.C.P., including its president, who sit in his Mobile, Alabama office to protest his nomination to attorney general. All protesters are arrested. (NYT)
  • 1/3/16 Over 1,100 law school professors sign a letter to the Senate urging it to reject Sessions as attorney general. (WaPo)(the letter)
  • 8/8/16 Praises Donald Trump's vocal call in 1989 for the death penalty for five black men accused of raping a jogger in Central Park. All five men were exonerated of all charges in 2002 and later won a wrongful conviction settlement for $41 million. (BuzzFeed)

As Attorney General of the United States

  • 2/23/17 Sends out a memo rescinding President Obama's August 16th order to end the use of private prisons. (Hill)
  • 2/27/17 Drops a lawsuit again the controversial Texas voter ID law which opponents say is intended to keep minorities from voting. (NYT)
  • 2/27/17 Announces that he will crack down on recreational marijuana usage. (Politico)
  • 2/28/17 Indicates that the federal government will back away from monitoring troubled police departments, an Obama administration strategy to force accountability onto local law enforcement amid rising civil rights violations. (NYT)
  • 3/1/17 Is reported to have perjured himself at his Senate confirmation hearing on whether or not he had contact with Russian officials during the campaign. Records show that he met with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak in July and September 2016. (WaPo) Also a third time in April 2016 at the Mayflower Hotel near the White House. (HuffPo)
  • 3/2/17 Recuses himself from any current or future investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election, saying the reason being that he was involved in the campaign. He does not acknowledge his perjury at the Senate or his contact with any Russian official during the campaign. (NYT)
  • 3/2/17 An unearthed C-SPAN video from 1999 shows a then-senator Sessions declaring that the American people deserve to know whether then-President Bill Clinton lied under oath. (HuffPo)(the video)
  • 3/2/17 Records show that Sessions used campaign funds to travel to Cleveland, where he met a Russian envoy. (WSJ)
  • 3/10/17 Referring to the CIA prison facilities at Guantanamo Bay: “I’ve been there a number of times as a senator, and it’s just a very fine place for holding these kind of dangerous criminals. We’ve spent a lot of money fixing it up. And I’m inclined to the view that it remains a perfectly acceptable place." (ABCNews)
  • 3/10/17 Asks 46 Obama-appointed attorneys to submit their resignation without having any permanent replacements selected. (Hill)
  • 3/27/17 Announces that state and local governments seeking certain law enforcement grants would have to certify that they are not sanctuary states or cities, and that such grants would be clawed back for such entities. (NYT)
  • 4/3/17 Orders a broad review of the Department of Justice's agreements with law enforcement agencies nationwide, with the goal of cutting back on federal oversight of local police departments. (NYT)(DOJ Memo)
  • 4/19/17 A month after firing dozens of U.S. attorneys from the Obama administration, almost 100 attorney positions at the Justice Department have still not been filled. (WaPo)
  • 4/20/17 Dismisses the state of Hawaii as "an island in the Pacific" when referring to a federal judge who blocked Trump's second travel ban. (NYT) Hawaii is a chain of islands and its capital, as well as federal courts, are located on the island of Oahu. (Wiki)
  • 5/12/17 House Democrats say Sessions may have violated his promise to recuse himself from investigations involving Trump's campaign, by recommending that Trump fire former FBI Director James Comey. (WaEx)
  • 5/12/17 Announces that he will recommend to all federal prosecutors to charge defendants with offenses as aggressively as possible. (CNN)
  • 6/1/17 Is revealed that two senators asked then-director James Comey to investigate Attorney General Jeff Sessions, amid concerns that he may have had an additional meeting with the Russian ambassador the US, Sergey Kislyak. (CNN) Sessions urged Trump to fire Comey in a closed-door meeting on May 8, 2017. (Politico)
  • 6/2/17 Submits on behalf of his administration a petition for the Supreme Court of the United States to hear the case for the Muslim travel ban, the second and most recent iteration of which was struck down by the Fourth Circuit. (NYT)(WH brief)
  • 6/7/17 Is reported that he offered to Trump his resignation during a series of heated exchanges lasting several weeks after Sessions recused himself from the Russia probe. (CNN)
  • 6/13/17 Personally asks Congress to let him prosecute medical marijuana providers. (WaPo)
  • 6/13/17 Testifying before the Senate Intelligence Committee for three hours, offers the following, under oath: (NYT)
    • Denies all conversations with Russians regarding interfering with the 2016 elections.
    • Denies meeting with Russians at the Mayflower Hotel in D.C. on April 2016.
    • Denies involvement in FBI director James Comey's firing.
    • Refused to discuss any discussions he had with the president
    • Stated that the notion that he was involved with the Russians was "an appalling and detestable lie."
  • 6/22/17 Verbally derides a Justice Department intern in a video who asserts that guns are deadlier than marijuana, saying from the podium: "OK. Dr. Whatever Your Name Is, you can write the AMA and see why they think otherwise." (ABC)
  • 7/17/17 Announces that he will be issuing a new directive to increasing civil asset seizure of cash and property. (WaPo) Asset forfeiture has allowed police to permanently take money and goods from individuals merely suspected of crimes. (WaPo)
  • 7/19/17 Trump says in an interview with New York Times: “Sessions should have never recused himself, and if he was going to recuse himself, he should have told me before he took the job and I would have picked somebody else.” (NYT)
  • 7/26/17 Sessions' Justice Department intervenes in a private employment case, urging a federal appeals court to rule that civil rights law does not bar job discrimination based on sexual orientation. (WaPo)
  • 8/1/17 An internal announcement to the civil rights division of the Justice Department indicates that the department will begin investigating and suing universities whose affirmative action policies have been deemed to discriminate against white applicants. (NYT)
  • 8/4/17 Announces that he will crack down on government leaks, including making it easier for the government to subpoena journalists about their sources and prosecuting reporters. (WaPo)
  • 8/14/17 The Justice Department seeks the identities of visitors to an anti-Trump website that organizes protests. (Hill)
    • 8/24/17 Court orders that the web hosting company of the anti-Trump site produce the personal data of those who organized protests. (Hill)
  • 8/16/17 Verbally attacks Chicago for its so-called sanctuary city policy, linking a soaring crime rate with Chicago's refusal to turn over all illegal immigrants to federal authorities. (WaPo)
  • 9/2/17 DOJ announces that it will retry a woman who allegedly laughed during Sessions' Senate confirmation hearing when a senator told Sessions that he had a record of "treating all Americans equally under the law." (CNN)
  • 9/15/17 A federal court blocks the Justice Department from withholding grant funds from places that do not provide immigration authorities access to local jails or give advance notice when suspected illegal immigrants are to be released. (WaPo)
  • 9/15/17 DOJ denies the release of a Mar-a-Lago visitor list to Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, instead sending only 22 names. (NYT)
  • 9/21/17 In a speech to local and national law enforcement, says that unaccompanied minors crossing the U.S.-Mexico border are "wolves in sheep's clothing" because they are probably gang members. (Politico)
  • 9/29/17 The DOJ demands the private account information of thousands of Facebook users in three separate search warrants targeting "anti-administration activists who have spoken out at organized events, and who are generally very critical of this administration's policies." (CNN)
  • 10/4/17 Is revealed that DOJ is probing affirmative action policies at Harvard University. (Hill)
  • 10/6/17 The DOJ issues guidance to federal agencies and prosecutors instructing them to take the position in court that workers, employers and organizations may claim broad exemptions from nondiscrimination laws based on religious objections, including against offering birth control to employees. (NYT)
  • Despite telling Congress under oath in June 2017 that he had no knowledge of any conversations by anyone connected to the Trump campaign about "any type of interference with any campaign" by Russians: (NYT)
    • 11/2/17 Sessions spoke with junior campaign aide George Papadapoulos on March 31, 2017 about setting up a meeting between Trump and Putin. (NBC)
    • 11/2/17 The March 31, 2017 meeting included Donald Trump, who listened to Papadapoulos' pitch with interest. (NYT)
    • 11/2/17 Former Trump foreign policy advisor Carter Page privately testifies that he told Sessions he was traveling to Russia during the 2016 campaign. (CNN)
  • 11/10/17 The U.S. Department of Justice has recommended that AT&T sell its Time Warner broadcasting unit, which includes CNN, before it grants antitrust approval for the merger of AT&T and Time Warner. Sources reveal that Rupert Murdoch, executive chairman of Twenty-First Century Fox, which owns Fox News, has offered to buy CNN on at least two occasions. (Reuters)
  • 11/14/17 In testimony to the House Judiciary Committee, says the following: (ABCNews)
    • That he only remembered his meetings with former junior campaign aide George Papadapoulos after reading about them in the news, and was honest when saying before that he couldn't remember them.
    • Admits that he has "not followed through to see where we are on that" regarding telling the Senate Judiciary Committee in October that the U.S. was not prepared to prevent interference in its elections.
  • 11/15/17 A federal judge rules that the DOJ cannot withhold money from Philadelphia over "sanctuary city" policies. (PhiladelphiaInquirer)
  • 11/17/17 Cracks a joke in a speech at the Federalist Society, a group of conservative lawyers, about a subject about which he may have earlier this year perjured himself: “I just was thinking, I want to ask you: Is Ambassador Kislyak in the room? Before I get started here, any Russians? Anybody been to Russia? Got a cousin in Russia or something?” (Politico)
  • 12/11/17 DOJ vows to appeal a federal court decision to allow transgender service members to continue enlisting and serving in the military. (CNN)
  • 12/21/17 Rescinds a Justice Department directive that asks local courts nationwide to be wary of levying fines and fees against poor defendants in order to bolster jurisdictional coffers. (WaPo)
  • 1/4/18 Rescinds an Obama-era policy that opened the way for legalized marijuana to flourish across the states, creating confusion about enforcement, letting federal prosecutors decide individually how aggressively to enforce federal law in states where it is legal. (AP)
  • 1/21/18 Is reported that the Justice Department fabricated a statistic that 73% of federal international terrorism convictions were done by foreign-born individuals, and attributed their analysis to a Department of Homeland Security analysis that did not exist. (DailyBeast)
  • 2/12/18 In a speech to the National Sheriff's Association in Washington, says the following: "Since our founding, the independently elected sheriff has been the people's protector, who keeps law enforcement close to and accountable to people through the elected process. The office of sheriff is a critical part of the Anglo-American heritage of law enforcement. We must never erode this historic office." (CNN)
  • 2/26/18 The Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit rules that a 1964 civil rights law bans anti-gay workplace discrimination, rebuking Sessions' efforts against a gay worker in a discrimination case. (BuzzFeed)
  • 3/6/18 Announces a lawsuit against California, its governor Jerry Brown and its attorney general Xavier Becerra, over the state's sanctuary laws. (NYT)
  • 3/16/18 Fires the acting director of the FBI Andrew McCabe, less than two days before his retirement, for allegedly inappropriately authorizing officials in 2016 to talk to reporters about an investigation into Hillary Clinton. (CNN)
    • Trump tweets: "Andrew McCabe FIRED, a great day for the hard working men and women of the FBI - A great day for Democracy. Sanctimonious James Comey was his boss and made McCabe look like a choirboy. He knew all about the lies and corruption going on at the highest levels of the FBI!" (CNN)
  • 3/24/18 A message posted on a DOJ webiste states that funding for two school safety programs has been eliminated, on the same day that hundreds of thousands of young Americans participate in the March for Our Lives protests in support of gun control measures to reduce school shootings. (Hill)
  • 4/6/18 Orders a "zero tolerance" policy on immigration enforcement along the U.S.-Mexico border, directing law enforcement to separate migrant children from their families and hold them in detention centers. (Hill)(his memo)
  • 5/6/18 House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes says that he plans to urge lawmakers to hold Sessions in contempt of Congress for failing to hand over classified materials related to the Russia investigation. (CNN)
  • 5/12/18 The Justice Department's Bureau of Prisons releases a policy change to its manual that rolls back rules protecting transgender inmates in federal prisons. (BOP manual change notice)(Hill)
  • 6/7/18 The Justice Department tells a federal court that it will not defend the Affordable Care Act against a 20 GOP-state legal challenge to its constititionality, breaking from the executive branch’s tradition of arguing to uphold existing statutes. (WaPo)
  • 6/11/18 Decides to preclude entry to the U.S. for all asylum seekers who cite fear of gang violence or domestic abuse. (NYT)
  • 6/14/18 In defending the administration's immigration enforcement policy of separating over 2,000 immigrant children from their families and housing the children in military outposts and makeshift detention centers, quotes the Bible: "I would cite you to the Apostle Paul and his clear and wise command in Romans 13 to obey the laws of the government because God has ordained the government for his purposes. Orderly and lawful processes are good in themselves. Consistent, fair application of law is in itself a good and moral thing and that protects the weak, it protects the lawful. Our policies that can result in short-term separation of families are not unusual or unjustified." (CNN)
  • 6/19/18 Distinguishes the separation of migrant children from their families from Nazi concentration camps: "Well, it's a real exaggeration, of course. In Nazi Germany, they were keeping the Jews from leaving the country." (CNN)
  • 6/19/18 More than 600 members of Sessions' church, the United Methodist Church, sign a letter condemning Sessions for the Trump administration's policy of separating migrant parents and children at the U.S. border. (Hill)
  • 7/24/18 Repeats the phrase "lock her up" and chuckles during a speech to conservative high school students at a conference in Washington. (NYT)
  • 7/31/18 Announces the creation of a "religious liberty task force" to "help the department fully implement our religious guidance." (CNN)
  • 10/9/18 Announces that the Justice Department would opposed a proposed consent decree to reform the Chicago police department that would, in part, require the use of de-escalation tactics, ensure accountability when officers use force irresponsibly and require police to track incidents in which police officers point their guns. (Reuters)
  • 11/7/18 Is fired by Trump the day after the 2018 midterm elections, and is replaced by his chief of staff Matthew Whitaker. (CNN)