U.S. senators got the chance to start questioning and reviewing one of Donald Trump’s cabinet nominees Tuesday.
Jeff Sessions, a Republican senator from Alabama, is Trump’s pick to be the next attorney general of the United States. But he’s facing intense scrutiny – especially by Democrats – for his stances on climate change and immigration, as well as a trail of racism accusations that span his decades in the public sector.
What’s happening Tuesday and Wednesday is the confirmation process. The U.S. Senate vets Trump’s nomination, and votes whether to approve it. Republicans have 52 seats in the Senate – a majority – so math would dictate Trump’s picks should get the thumbs up pretty easily.
The LA Times also notes no sitting U.S. senator has ever been rejected as a cabinet nomination. The examination will continue Wednesday,
Franken and Klobuchar get to ask questions
For this story, we’re going to focus on Minnesota’s two U.S. senators, Al Franken and Amy Klobuchar, who both got the chance to question Sessions Tuesday.
As attorney general, Sessions would be the top law enforcement officer in the country, and head the Department of Justice. That means he would have significant influence regarding how the U.S. chooses to enforce laws.
Franken (a Democrat) started off by immediately confronting Sessions about his record on Civil Rights desegregation cases, and how heavily involved he was in those cases. Sessions said he was personally involved in some, but Franken cited testimony that Sessions wasn’t actually as involved.
Things got testy at times. Here’s his initial round of questioning:
And you can see further questions here, where Franken asks Sessions about Trump’s voter fraud claims, and voter rights.
Klobuchar took a softer tone, thanking Sessions for bipartisan work in previous year. But she pivoted into questions about voter rights.
Klobuchar said she’s “concerned” about states passing laws that she says restrict voters rights, and asked Sessions about his quote that the Voting Rights Act was an “intrusive” piece of legislation.
Sessions said he’s supported the Voting Rights Act, and voted to continue it, though said the Supreme Court has also described it as “intrusive” because it targeted certain states, not all of them.
Klobuchar also asked about his thoughts on the economic benefit of immigrants – the Washington Post wrote about it here, but Sessions briefly said incoming workers can hurt Americans’ chances at job. A protester also interrupted that portion of questioning.
Klobuchar is ready to go again Wednesday.
Asked nominee Sessions today about voting rights, immigration, violence Against women & protecting freedom of press. Ideas for next round?
— Amy Klobuchar (@amyklobuchar) January 10, 2017