Booker to testify against Sessions in unprecedented move

Posted at 6:29 PM, Jan 10, 2017
and last updated 2017-01-10 20:37:40-05

Republican Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama sat for hours Tuesday before the Senate Judiciary Committee during the first day of confirmation hearings.

Sessions, 70, is President-elect Donald Trump's pick for Attorney General.

"I am ready for this job," Sessions said at the beginning of the day.

Hecklers tried to interrupt the hearing multiple times. All were escorted out.

Senators asked Sessions his views on immigration, race, abortion and other public policy issues. Support and skepticism were split down party lines.

"Communities across this country are concerned about whether they will be able to rely on the Department of Justice to protect their rights and freedoms," Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein said.

In contrast, Senator Richard Shelby the senior Republican from Alabama said, "I have the highest regard, not only for his intellect, but for his integrity."

Sessions was the first sitting Senator to endorse Trump. Opponents have criticized Sessions past comments and track record on social issues, including gay and women's rights, immigration and race.

The Attorney General nominee said he was against both gay marriage and legalized abortion but told the Senate Judiciary Committee he would uphold the law.

"It is the law of the land. It has been so established and settled for quite a long time and it deserves respect and I would respect it and follow it," Sessions said.

Sessions was denied a federal judgeship in 1986 due to allegations of racism. He was Alabama's Attorney General before being elected to the Senate in 1996.

Democratic New Jersey Senator Cory Booker is expected to testify against Sessions Wednesday.

He said, "Given the state of a lot of our challenges we have with our policing, a lot of challenges we have with race relations, gay and lesbian relations, it's a very consequential moment."

Morgan Pehme, a political analyst for PIX11 News called Booker's planned testimony an exceptional event. "It's highly irregular for members of the Senate to oppose the confirmation of their fellow Senators," he said.

Sessions maintained in the hearing that he is not a racist. He said he does not believe Muslims, as a religious group, should be denied entry to the United States. And

Sessions said he would stand up to President-elect Trump if he disagrees with his actions. He also promised he would work to curb illegal immigration and end gun violence.