Tag Archives: Jeff Sessions

U.S. Rep. Barbara Lee to boycott Trump’s inauguration. She explains why

U.S. Rep. Barbara Lee will not attend the inauguration of Donald J. Trump on Jan. 20. She explains why:

Inaugurations are celebratory events, a time to welcome the peaceful transition of power and honor the new administration. On Jan. 20, I will not be celebrating or honoring an incoming president who rode racism, sexism, xenophobia and bigotry to the White House.

Donald Trump ran one of the most divisive and prejudiced campaigns in modern history.

He began his campaign by insulting Mexican immigrants, pledging to build a wall between the United States and Mexico and then spent a year and a half denigrating communities of color and normalizing bigotry.

He called women “pigs,” stoked Islamophobia and attacked a Gold Star family.

He mocked a disabled reporter and appealed to people’s worst instincts.

I cannot in good conscience attend an inauguration that would celebrate this divisive approach to governance.

After the election, many hoped the president-elect would turn toward unifying our country. Instead he has shown us that he will utilize the same tools of division he employed on the campaign trail as our nation’s commander-in-chief.

We need look no further than the team he is assembling to find signals that the era of Trump will be one of chaos and devastation for our communities.

The president-elect has named Steve Bannon,  a white nationalist as his chief strategist. He has nominated U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions to the office of Attorney General, despite his long career of opposition to civil and human rights.

And in perhaps the most damning sign of the chaos to come, the president-elect has expedited the process to repeal the Affordable Care Act and make America sick again.

To make matters worse, after the intelligence community reported Russian interference in our election, Donald Trump frequently and forcefully defended Vladimir Putin.

He insulted senior intelligence officials in order to preserve his reputation and disguise the truth.

The American people will never forget that when a foreign government violated our democracy, Donald Trump chose the interests of another nation over our own.

Donald Trump has proven that his administration will normalize the most extreme fringes of the Republican Party.

On Inauguration Day, I will not be celebrating. I will be organizing and preparing for resistance.

United Resistance: Progressive groups launch protest as confirmation hearings take place

More than 50 progressive organizations sent a message of united resistance to Donald Trump’s administration as the U.S. Senate began confirmation hearings on Capitol Hill.

Movement leaders, including NAACP president Cornell Brooks, Greenpeace USA executive director Annie Leonard and SEIU International president Mary Kay Henry pledged to defend against threats to civil rights, immigrant rights, women’s reproductive rights, social equality, action on climate change, public health and safety, public dissent and access to information.

In the United Resistance campaign, groups are pledging to work together across issues. More than 50 organizations have signed onto the pledge.

United Resistance campaigners

Advancement Project (National), Asian Pacific Environmental Network, Brave New Films, Center for Biological Diversity, Climate Justice Alliance, Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles, Color Of Change, Common Cause, Communications Workers of America, Daily Kos, Democracy Initiative, Demos, Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, Every Voice, Food & Water Action Fund, Forward Together, Free Press, Friends of the Earth, Grassroots Global Justice Alliance, Green For All, Greenpeace, Inc, Indigenous Environmental Network, Jewish Voice for Peace, Jobs With Justice, Labor Network for Sustainability, MoveOn.org, NAACP, NARAL, National Domestic Workers Alliance, National LGBTQ Task Force Action Fund, National Network for Arab American Communities, Oakland Institute, Oil Change International, OneAmerica, One Billion Rising, Our Revolution, People’s Action, People For the American Way, Planned Parenthood Action Fund, Public Citizen, Rainforest Action Network, Restaurant Opportunities Centers (ROC) United, RootsAction.org, Sierra Club, The Story of Stuff Project, United We Dream, Working Families Party, World Beyond War, V-Day, 350.org.

For the record

With just over a week before Inauguration Day and the Senate hearings underway on Donald Trump’s choices for top posts, leaders of progressive organizers are speaking out on threats posed by the incoming administration and vowing resistance.

“Trump is not on the side of the American people. After promises of “draining the swamp, his cabinet is now full of more billionaire lobbyists and executives than any administration in history. This president will never know what it feels like to worry about the water his family is drinking, to wonder if his house will survive the next superstorm, or if his child will face hateful bullying at school. It is up to each one of us to protect each other, to fight for each other, and to resist the ways in which Donald Trump threatens America.” — Greenpeace USA executive director Annie Leonard

 

“Our movement to advance the fundamental values of justice and democracy, for the empowerment of immigrant and refugee communities, for Muslims and other religious minorities in the United States is ready to protect our families, to assert our presence, and to challenge our nation to live up to its values as a nation built by immigration.  I’m heartened by the energy to resist in our own communities, and by the broad coalition of movements coming together to stand and defend each other, whatever the Trump Administration throws at us.  At stake is a vision for our nation and world grounded in racial and social justice, committed to improving the lives of every American, and realizing a healthy and diverse future where everyone can thrive.  We stand with our sisters and brothers in the intersections of racial, economic and climate justice.” — Rich Stolz, executive director, OneAmerica

 

“Solidarity forever must include solidarity now — intensive, sustained and determined to defend past gains as well as make future ones possible. Everything that we hold dear is at stake.” — Norman Solomon, coordinator, RootsAction.org

 

“Green For All stands against Trump’s effort to auction off our air, water and climate to the highest bidder. We resist efforts to prioritize profit over human life and stand with frontline communities, those in small towns and urban areas who face the brunt of pollution, to fight for climate solutions that put them first. We will fight alongside the underdogs, those most ignored, to ensure that their voices are heard because we all deserve clean air, clean water and a healthy environment to raise our kids.” — Vien Truong, director of Green For All 

 

“The corporate cartel that works to wage wars, pollute the planet, concentrate the wealth, and restrict the rights of dissenters finds a way to all work together. Those of us seeking a better world — a sustainable world at all — must work together to resist the path the U.S. government is on and to project and push forward a better one. Our collective numbers give us power, and our interlocking issues give us a persuasive alternative. Shifting military spending to human and environmental needs makes a world beyond our dreams perfectly achievable.”  — David Swanson, director of World Beyond War

 

“The Sierra Club’s mission is to protect both the natural and the human environment. That is why we stand in solidarity with organizations fighting for a fair and safe America that protects everyone. We stand with workers and working families, for women’s rights and LGBTQ rights, with people of all faiths and backgrounds, for public health and economic fairness, and on the side of racial justice and immigrant families. To change everything it takes everyone, and that’s exactly why we’re going to stand up together over the next four years and fight to protect the people and places that we love.” — Michael Brune, Sierra Club executive director 

 

“Trump’s presidency represents an existential threat to an open internet and an adversarial press. Based on its appointments and actions so far, the Trump administration appears committed to undermining everyone’s rights to connect and communicate. We’re dedicated to fighting Trump’s agenda on media and technology while supporting the resistance efforts of groups doing important work elsewhere. Trump has named numerous people to his administration and transition team with long histories of support for dangerous and often racist policies and actions. Many others have openly campaigned to gut essential public safeguards in every area from worker safety to the environment to telecommunications. All must be resisted from day one.” — Free Press CEO and president Craig Aaron

 

“The Trump administration promises to roll back our environmental laws, gut civil rights protections, and enrich the pockets of Wall Street at the expense of everyone else. We can’t let this happen—and together, we can resist the worst effects of his presidency. We’ll keep the pressure on our elected officials to represent the majority of Americans that want safe food, clean water, a stable climate, and a democracy that works for all of us.” — Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food & Water Action Fund

 

“As the chief law enforcement officer, the attorney generally has far-reaching decision making power over issues that impact every person in the U.S. If appointed, Jeff Sessions will be the final decision maker on if the FBI can profile Muslim members of our community, whether or not to sanction stop and frisk policies, oversight of our prisons, the Department of Justice and drug enforcement. He has a track record of disregarding civil rights, denying racism, and promoting a radical agenda that would undo many of the laws that have given voice to communities of color historically shut out of our democracy. His values don’t reflect an America where all people can thrive and we are united in opposition to his nomination.” —  Kalpana Krishnamurthy, policy Director at Forward Together, a national advocacy organization.

“The blueprint for failure is division and ambivalence in the wake of a united conservative agenda that is intentionally undermining our democracy and threatening our communities. Our power to resist and reclaim our democracy is rooted in our shared commitment to dismantling interwoven systems of oppression. We are putting the new administration on notice: every day of the next four years, be prepared to confront powerful organized communities who refuse to be silenced.” — Judith Browne Dianis, executive director of Advancement Project’s national office

“At Rainforest Action Network, we stand for people and planet. But today, we need to stand firmly in opposition to a systemic assault on our values from the incoming administration. We are pledging to oppose those who would deny science and deny climate change. We are pledging to oppose those who would gut environmental protections in the name of corporate profits. We are pledging to stand for civil rights, to stand for human and labor rights, and to stand with those directly impacted by global forest destruction and climate change.” — Lindsey Allen, executive director, Rainforest Action Network

 

“We have witnessed one of the most contentious and emotional political races in our country’s history. What we have learned is that, now, more than ever, we need to come together to uphold our shared values of freedom and equality for all. Arab and Muslim Americans have long dealt with xenophobia, Islamophobia, racism and bigotry. Throughout the presidential election, we were faced with many unprecedented obstacles, and yet we persevered and remained committed to improving and empowering our communities. We know we must maintain our spirit of advocacy and become stronger leaders for a more hopeful future.” — Nadia El-Zein Tonova, director of the National Network for Arab American Communities 

 

“America is great when it becomes more inclusive, more democratic and more just. The Trump administration threatens these values, and democracy itself. Against this threat, We the People will protect our democracy and the values we most cherish by exercising our democratic rights. We will stand together to reject efforts to denigrate, injure or exclude Muslim Americans, immigrants or any other targeted community. We will reject Trumpism and assert the central importance of love and solidarity, kindness and decency to who we are a country and a people.” — Robert Weissman, president of Public Citizen

 

“Donald Trump is a dangerous narcissist. We need to block his agenda of greed and division, and and we need to stand together to do it. That’s the only hope for building a nation that works for all of us.” — Dan Cantor, national director, Working Families Party:

 

“Trump’s presidency threatens immigrants, African Americans, Muslims, workers, women, children, the elderly, the disabled, LGBTQ people, and many others. Indeed, it threatens all that holds us together as a society. We the people — society — need to defend ourselves against this threat and bring it to an end. Resisters to repressive regimes elsewhere have called such resistance to tyranny “Social Self-Defense.” The struggle to protect our people and planet against the Trump agenda requires such a strategy. Therefore we are proud to join the United Resistance Campaign as a form of Social Self Defense.” — Michael Leon Guerrero, Labor Network for Sustainability 

 

“If Trump thinks this wave of opposition and resistance will burn out quickly and die, he’s dead wrong. We’ll be there every day, every week and every year to oppose every policy that hurts wildlife; poisons our air or water; destroys the climate; promotes racism, misogyny or homophobia; and marginalizes entire segments of our society.” — Kieran Suckling, executive director of the Center for Biological Diversity

 

“We live in a global world where our lives are intertwined. An act of hate against one is an act of hate against all. So we stand here united with all voices of peace, tolerance, racial equity, and justice. We gain our unity from the diversity of our religions, of our sexual preferences, women’s rights, and of our racial diversity. We allege to speak for all who are voiceless, marginalized, and criminalized. We are one force, united together for the betterment of humanity.” — Anuradha Mittal, Oakland Institute executive director 

 

“It’s time to get back to the basics: everyday people with a plan, through everyday acts of courage, will eventually make history.” — Ai-jen Poo, director, National Domestic Workers Alliance

On the web

Spread the resistance, join the resistance.

Related news

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National Press Club raises concerns about Trump’s ‘fake news’ label

 

CorporateCabinet.org tracks Trump nominees

The corporate ties of President-elect Donald Trump’s cabinet picks and other top political appointees are exposed at CorporateCabinet.org.

Public Citizen said it unveiled the website to expose corporate ties, corrupting influences and conflicts of interest in Trump’s cabinet.

The site, which will be updated regularly, will eventually include other top officials such as deputy secretaries.

Many of the nominees have connections with corporations whose profit-driven interests are directly at odds with the federal agencies Trump has selected them to lead.

“Donald Trump, the candidate who ran against corruption, cronyism and insider dealmaking, is handing control of the government over to corporate chieftains,” stated Robert Weissman, president of Public Citizen. “Trump’s corporate Cabinet nominees have staggering conflicts of interest, and if confirmed will drive forward policies to advance the interests of Big Business, not the American people. We’re facing the prospect of a government literally of the Exxons, by the Goldman Sachses and for the Kochs.”

The site has key information about:

  • Vice President-elect Mike Pence, who has strong ties to Koch Industries and raked in eye-popping sums from the finance sector, construction industry, pharmaceutical industry and chemical industry.
  • Rex Tillerson, Trump’s secretary of state pick, who made his career at Exxon Mobil.
  • Steven Mnuchin, treasury secretary nominee and longtime Goldman Sachs executive who was steeped in the investment banking industry long before it became a poster child for economy-wrecking, foreclosure-inducing Wall Street greed, and who later helped run a failed bank accused of duplicitous foreclosure practices.
  • Gen. James Mattis, being considered for secretary of defense, who has served on the board of General Dynamics, a multinational military contractor.
  • U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., under consideration for attorney general and a darling of the finance, insurance and real estate industries, among others.
  • Betsy DeVos, named to be education secretary, who is a billionaire scion and whose husband is heir to the Amway fortune.
  • Elaine Chao, up to run the U.S. Department of Transportation, who served on the board of directors of Wells Fargo during the cross-selling scandal.
  • Former Goldman Sachs executive Gary Cohn, slated to head the National Economic Council, who led Goldman Sachs as it profited off the housing market collapse in part by misleading its own clients.
  • Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, Trump’s pick to the run the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, who has a deep affinity for fossil fuel companies.
  • Steve Bannon, a special adviser to Trump who once ran Breitbart.com, a far-right website, and is a former Goldman Sachs executive.
  • Linda McMahon, picked to run the Small Business Administration, who as World Wrestling Entertainment CEO helped ensure the wrestling industry remained largely unregulated, putting the health and safety of wrestlers at risk.
  • Fast-food mogul Andy Puzder, who is to head the U.S. Department of Labor and whose companies are known for being anti-worker and anti-union.
  • Wilbur Ross, a billionaire whose firm has profited from buying distressed firms and cutting workers’ benefits, who is under consideration for secretary of the U.S. Department of Commerce.

Ahead of hearing, ACLU releases analysis of Sessions’ civil liberties record

The American Civil Liberties Union this week released its analysis of U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions’ record on civil liberties issues ahead of the Jan. 10-11 confirmation hearing. Sessions is Donald Trump’s nominee for attorney general.

The ACLU report examines Sessions’ handling of voting rights, police reform, immigration, mass incarceration, religious liberty, LGBT equality, privacy and surveillance, torture, abortion and sexual assault issues.

“The American people deserve a full vetting of Sen. Jeff Sessions’ record if he is to become the nation’s top law enforcement official,” ACLU executive director Anthony D. Romero said in a press statement.

He continued, “If the Senate does their job well, Congress and the American public will know if Sessions is the most qualified person to be the 84th attorney general of the United States of America. All Americans must have confidence that the highest law enforcement official in the country will protect them from discrimination and injustice. Trump and Sessions’ commitment to ‘law and order’ must embrace justice.”

This is from the introduction to the ACLU analysis on Sessions’ record:

More than thirty years ago, Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III, Donald Trump’s pick for attorney general, was in a similar situation as he will be on January 10 when he goes before the Senate Judiciary Committee for his confirmation hearing. Tapped by President Ronald Reagan for a federal judgeship in 1986, Sessions sat before the very same committee for his previous confirmation hearing. Things did not go well.

Witnesses accused Sessions, then the U.S. attorney for the southern district of Alabama, of repeatedly making racially insensitive and racist remarks. Thomas Figures — a former assistant U.S. attorney in Mobile, Alabama, who worked for Sessions — told the Senate Judiciary Committee that his former boss said he thought the Ku Klux Klan was okay until he learned members smoked pot. Sessions said the comment wasn’t serious. Figures, an African-American man, also alleged that Sessions called him “boy” and told him “to be careful what you say to white folks.” Sessions denied this, too. 

But Figures wasn’t alone. Visiting Mobile, Alabama, from Washington, D.C., a Justice Department lawyer heard Sessions call the ACLU “un-American” and “communist-inspired.” He also heard Sessions opine that ACLU and the NAACP “did more harm than good when they were trying to force civil rights down the throats of people who were trying to put problems behind them.” Sessions said he didn’t recall saying that but admitted he could be “loose with my tongue” at the office. Not surprisingly, a civil rights coalition of over 160 groups and members of the Alabama Legislature separately opposed the Sessions’ nomination and asked the Senate Judiciary Committee to vote no on the young attorney from Hybart, Alabama. In a bipartisan vote, committee members refused to confirm Sessions, making him just the second judicial nominee in 49 years to be denied confirmation by the Senate Judiciary Committee at that time.

Sessions recovered well. In 1994, he was elected as Alabama’s attorney general. Two years later, the people of Alabama sent him to the U.S. Senate. He’s never lost a reelection campaign since, and now he’s poised to become the head of the Department of Justice. But the same concerns that doomed Sessions’ shot at becoming a federal judge three decades ago continue to stalk him today, only they have been made more troubling when you add Sessions’ Senate record to the mix.

The ACLU as a matter of long-standing policy does not support or oppose candidates for elected or appointed office. However, questions regarding police reform, voting rights, immigrants’ rights, criminal justice reform, Muslims’ rights, racial justice, LGBT rights, women’s rights, privacy rights, torture, and abortion rights must be asked of and answered by Jeff Sessions if the Senate is to be discharged of its duty and if Americans are to be fully informed of how the nominee is to serve as the nation’s highest law enforcement officer. The attorney general must be an individual who will steadfastly enforce the U.S. Constitution and protect the civil rights and liberties of all Americans equally.

On the Web

The report can be found at https://www.aclu.org/report/report-confirmation-sessions.

Warren wants to pull pot shops out of banking limbo

As pot shops sprout in states that have legalized the drug, they face a critical stumbling block — lack of access to the kind of routine banking services other businesses take for granted.

U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, a Massachusetts Democrat, is leading an effort to make sure vendors working with legal marijuana businesses, from chemists who test marijuana for harmful substances to firms that provide security, don’t have their banking services taken away.

It’s part of a wider effort by Warren and others to bring the burgeoning $7 billion marijuana industry in from a fiscal limbo she said forces many shops to rely solely on cash, making them tempting targets for criminals.

After voters in Warren’s home state approved a November ballot question to legalize the recreational use of pot, she joined nine other senators in sending a letter to a key federal regulator, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, calling on it to issue additional guidance to help banks provide services to marijuana shop vendors.

Twenty-eight states have legalized marijuana for medicinal or recreational use.

Warren, a member of the Senate Banking Committee, said there are benefits to letting marijuana-based businesses move away from a cash-only model.

“You make sure that people are really paying their taxes. You know that the money is not being diverted to some kind of criminal enterprise,” Warren said recently. “And it’s just a plain old safety issue. You don’t want people walking in with guns and masks and saying, ‘Give me all your cash.””

A spokesman for the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network said the agency is reviewing the letter.

There has been some movement to accommodate the banking needs of marijuana businesses.

Two years ago, the U.S. Department of the Treasury gave banks permission to do business with legal marijuana entities under some conditions. Since then, the number of banks and credit unions willing to handle pot money rose from 51 in 2014 to 301 in 2016.

Warren, however, said fewer than 3 percent of the nation’s 11,954 federally regulated banks and credit unions are serving the cannabis industry.

Taylor West, deputy director of the National Cannabis Industry Association, a trade organization for 1,100 marijuana businesses nationwide, said access to banking remains a top concern.

“What the industry needs is a sustainable solution that services the entire industry instead of tinkering around the edges,” Taylor said. “You don’t have to be fully in favor of legalized marijuana to know that it helps no one to force these businesses outside the banking system.”

Sam Kamin, a professor at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law who studies marijuana regulation, said there’s only so much states can do on their own.

“The stumbling block over and over again is the federal illegality,” he said.

The federal government lumps marijuana into the same class of drugs as heroin, LSD and peyote. Democratic President Barack Obama’s administration has essentially turned a blind eye to state laws legalizing the drug, and supporters of legalizing marijuana hope Republican President-elect Donald Trump will follow suit.

Trump officials did not respond to a request for comment. During the presidential campaign, Trump said states should be allowed to legalize marijuana and has expressed support for medicinal use. But he also has sounded more skeptical about recreational use, and his pick for attorney general, Alabama U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions, is a stern critic.

Some people in the marijuana industry say the banking challenges are merely growing pains for an industry evolving from mom-and-pop outlets.

Nicholas Vita, CEO of Columbia Care, one of the nation’s largest providers of medical marijuana products, said it’s up to marijuana businesses to make sure their financial house is in order.

“It’s not just as simple as asking the banks to open their doors,” Vita said. “The industry also needs to develop a set of standards that are acceptable to the banks.”

NAACP: Block Sessions for attorney general

NAACP president and CEO Cornell William Brooks issued the following statement opposing the nomination of U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions as attorney general:

America yet stands at the beginning of presidential administration but also in the middle of a Twitter age civil rights movement based on old divisions.

U.S. Sen. Jefferson Beauregard Sessions is among the worst possible nominees for attorney general amid some of the worst times for civil rights in recent memory.

Following a divisive presidential campaign, hate crimes rising, police videos sickening the stomach while quickening the conscience, protesters marching in the streets and politicians mouthing the myth of voter fraud while denying the reality of voter suppression, Senator Sessions is precisely the wrong man to lead the Justice Department.

The NAACP, as the nation’s oldest and largest civil rights organization, opposes the nomination of Senator Sessions to become U.S. attorney general for the following reasons:

• a record on voting rights that is unreliable at best and hostile at worse;

• a failing record on other civil rights;

• a record of racially offensive remarks and behavior;

• and dismal record on criminal justice reform issues.

Voting Rights

Senator Sessions supported the re-authorization of the 1965 Voting Rights Act in 2006, but called the bill “a piece of intrusive legislation” just months earlier. Sessions has consistently voted in favor of strict voter ID laws that place extra burdens on the poor and residents of color, and drive voter suppression across the country. When the Supreme Court struck down federal protections in 2012 that prevented thousands of discriminatory state laws from taking effect since 1965, Sessions declared it was “a good thing for the South.” As a prosecutor in 1985, Sessions maliciously prosecuted a former aide to Martin Luther King for helping senior citizens file absentee ballots in Alabama.

Rather than enforcing voting rights protections, Senator Sessions has instead made a career of seeking to dismantle them. When Shelby County v. Holder gutted the protections of the VRA, Senator Sessions cheered. For decades, he has pursued the rare and mystical unicorn of voter fraud, while turning a blind eye to the ever-growing issue of voter suppression.

While Senator Sessions’ historical record on civil rights remains one of dismay, it is his unrepentant stance against the vote that remains our issue. The threat of voter suppression is not a historical but current challenge. At least 10 times in the past 10 months, the NAACP defended voting rights against coordinated campaigns by legislators targeting African-American voters in Texas, North Carolina, Wisconsin, and many other states.

While the NAACP could gain the assistance of the Justice Department in fighting back against voter suppression, a Sessions-led DOJ would likely lead to the exact opposite.During the height of the Civil Rights Movement, then-Attorney General Nicholas Katzenbach’s commitment to democracy allowed him to help write the VRA. Today, our nation stands on the verge of selecting an AG who has never shown the slightest commitment to enforcing the protections Katzenbach and others wrote into law. 

How can our communities who have born the both historical and current brunt of the attacks on the right to vote, sit idly by while an enemy to the vote is now given the responsibility of enforcing this right? The simple answer is that we can’t. 

Other Civil Rights

Since 1997, Senator Sessions has received an F every year on the NAACP’s federal legislative civil rights report cards. He’s voted against our policy positions nearly 90 percent of the time. Senator Sessions has repeatedly supported lawsuits and attempts to overturn desegregation while shamelessly voting against federal Hate Crime legislation four times from 2000 to 2009.

Notwithstanding, he has also repeatedly voted against the Violence Against Women Act that expanded protection for victims of domestic violence and repeatedly stood on the wrong side of immigration and LGBT issues.

Racial Insensitivity

During his failed 1986 federal judgeship hearing, four DOJ attorneys and colleagues of Senator Sessions testified that he made several racist statements. J. Gerald Hebert testified that Sessions had referred to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) as “un-American” and “Communist inspired” because they “forced civil rights down the throats of people.

Additional accusations of racist behavior were attributed to Senator Sessions by Thomas Figures, an African American Assistant U.S. Attorney, who testified that Sessions said he thought the Ku Klux Klan was “OK until I found out they smoked pot.” Sessions later said that the comment was not serious, but did apologize for it. Mr. Figures also testified that on one occasion, Senator Session railed against civil rights cases, threw a file on the table and called him the derogatory racist term “boy,” and later advised Figures to watch what he said to white people.

Criminal Justice Reform

In a time of expanding protests against the scourge of police brutality, Senator Sessions stands on opposite ground. He has repeated stood against the consent decree, a main tool of the DOJ to reel in racist and unaccountable police departments. In a report by the Alabama Policy Institute, Senator Sessions called consent decrees: “One of the most dangerous, and rarely discussed, exercises of raw power is the issuance of expansive court decrees. Consent decrees have a profound effect on our legal system as they constitute an end run around the democratic process.”

While under the administration of President Barack Obama, the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division made investigating police departments charged with racism and police brutality a key focus by intervening in high-profile cases in Ferguson, Missouri and Baltimore, Maryland to impose consent decrees and reforms to correct misbehavior and the violation of citizen’s civil rights.

Senator Sessions would become the Attorney General under a president who supports nationalizing the racist and disproven “stop and frisk,” strategy. Both Sessions and the incoming president are supporters of the DOD 1033 program which allows police department’s access to surplus military equipment including tanks, armored vehicles, grenade launchers and more. He also opposes the removal of mandatory minimum sentences and blocked efforts to reduce nonviolent drug sentencing despite wide bi-partisan support for doing so. If not enough, Senator Sessions has repeatedly voted against safe, sane, and sensible measures to stem the tide of gun violence.

Given that these are issues our nation the attorney general is sworn to protect and enforce his nomination represents an ongoing and dangerous threat to our civicbirthrights –particularly, and the right to vote.

We call upon the Senate to reject Sessions and for President-elect Donald J. Trump to replace Sessions with a nominee with a record of inclusion and commitment to protecting the civil rights of the American majority.

The NAACP does not believe that an election where the incoming president lost the popular vote by nearly 3 million votes represents a mandate to overhaul the America of the Majority. The vote remains the most important resource in making democracy real for all people.

As we have since 1909, the NAACP will continue to stand against Senator Sessions and any attempts to unravel the progress earned through the blood, sweat and tears of our people to enjoy the same rights under law as all Americans.”

Founded Feb. 12. 1909, the NAACP is the nation’s oldest, largest and most widely recognized grassroots–based civil rights organization. Its more than half-million members and supporters throughout the United States and the world are the premier advocates for civil rights in their communities, conducting voter mobilization and monitoring equal opportunity in the public and private sectors.

Trump appointments signal national security hard line

If there was any doubt about whether Donald Trump meant business with his hard-line campaign pronouncements on immigration, race, terrorism and more, the president-elect went a long way to dispel them Friday with his first appointments to his national security team and at the Justice Department.

It wasn’t just talk.

Trump’s trifecta in selecting Sen. Jeff Sessions for attorney general, retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn for national security adviser and Rep. Mike Pompeo to lead the CIA sent a strong message that Americans are going to get what they voted for in electing a Republican whose campaign talk about national security matters largely toggled between tough and tougher.

There has been ongoing mystery about what to expect in a Trump presidency: Even some of Trump’s own supporters wrote off some of his more provocative campaign comments. Trump’s own policy statements have zigged and zagged depending on the audience. And his first two appointments to the White House staff — GOP Chairman Reince Priebus as chief of staff and onetime Breitbart News chief Steve Bannon as a senior adviser — sent a mixed message with the choice of an establishment figure and a flame-throwing outsider.

But Friday’s picks offered a concrete indication that Trump’s presidency may in fact be headed sharply to the right on issues of national security.

“If you believe in personnel as policy, it’s pretty clear where the arrows are pointing,” says Calvin Mackenzie, a presidential scholar at Colby College in Maine.

Princeton historian Julian Zelizer says the three choices all represent conservative figures with track records in government, not “wildly out-of-the-box people who don’t even come from the world of politics.”

“That’s a message not just about him following through on his campaign promises, but it’s about partisanship,” says Zelizer. “He’s giving a signal to the Republicans to stick with him because he’ll deliver.”

Trump still has plenty of big appointments yet to make, including secretary of state, that could telegraph other directions. And Congress, too, will have a say in setting national security policy.

Trump’s three latest all have sharply differed with Obama administration policy:

  • Sessions, the Alabama senator and former federal prosecutor, is known for his tough stance on immigration enforcement. He’s questioned whether terrorism suspects should get the protection of the U.S. court system, opposes closing the detention center at Guantanamo Bay and has highlighted concerns about voting fraud, which the Obama administration sees as a non-issue. He has said Obama’s counterterrorism policies have “emboldened our enemies” and those concerned about warrantless wiretaps have “exaggerated the extent to which this is somehow violative of our Constitution.” His appointment to a federal judgeship in 1986 fell through after he was accused of making racially charged statements while U.S. attorney in Alabama.
  • Pompeo, the three-term congressman from Kansas, is an outspoken opponent of the Iran nuclear deal, has said NSA leaker Edward Snowden is a traitor who deserves the death sentence and has said Muslim leaders are “potentially complicit” in terrorist attacks if they do not denounce violence carried out in the name of Islam.
  • Flynn stepped down as director of the Defense Intelligence Agency in April 2014 and said he’d been forced out because he disagreed with Obama’s approach to combatting extremism. Critics said he’d mismanaged the agency. Flynn has pressed for a more aggressive U.S. campaign against the Islamic State group, and favors working more closely with Russia.

The three appointments sync up with messages that Trump voters sent in the exit polls on Election Night.

Trump’s backers put a higher priority on addressing terrorism and immigration than did Clinton’s supporters. Three-fourths of them said the U.S. was doing very badly or somewhat badly at dealing with IS. Just 2 in 10 thought blacks are treated unfairly in the U.S. criminal justice system. Three-fourths backed building a wall on the southern border to control illegal immigration.

Trump’s positions, meanwhile, have gone through different iterations, continue to evolve and still have big gaps.

On immigration, his views have arrived at a policy that sounds much like Washington as usual. The approach he sketched out in a post-election interview on 60 Minutes would embrace the Obama administration’s push to deport the most serious criminals who are in the U.S. illegally as well as the call by many Republican lawmakers to secure the border before considering any legal status for those who’ve committed immigration violations but otherwise lived lawfully. He even pulled back a bit on his vaunted southern wall, suggesting a fence may be enough for part of it.

Trump the campaigner also moved away from his inflammatory vow to freeze the entry of foreign Muslims into the U.S., settling late in the race on “extreme” vetting of immigrants from countries and regions plagued by violent radicalism.

He’s vowed to crush the Islamic State group, but he won’t say how.

Trump has also said he believes in enhanced interrogation techniques, which can include waterboarding and other types of torture that are against the law and that many experts argue are ineffective.

Republican Rep. Devin Nunes of California, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, on Friday dismissed Trump’s comments about waterboarding as the talk of a “first-time neophyte running for office.”

“Water-boarding coming back, I find that hard to believe,” he said.

Associated Press writers Deb Riechmann and Calvin Woodward contributed to this report.

 

Voces de la Frontera challenges Walker on immigration

Voces de la Frontera, a leading immigrant rights group in Wisconsin, called Gov. Scott Walker’s latest position on immigration shameful and slammed the presidential hopeful for anti-immigrant remarks.

In an interview with ultra-conservative talk show host Glenn Beck on April 21, Walker repeated his recent claim that he once supported “amnesty” for undocumented immigrants but no longer does and that immigrants who entered the country illegally should leave.

Walker also said legal immigration must also be limited, citing right-wing U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama as an inspiration.

“The next president and the next Congress need to make decisions about a legal immigration system that’s based on, first and foremost, on protecting American workers and American wages,” Walker said. “Because the more I’ve talked to folks — I’ve talked to Sen. Sessions and others out there, but it is a fundamentally lost issue by many in elected positions today — is what is this doing for American workers looking for jobs, what is this doing to wages, and we need to have that be at the forefront of our discussion going forward.”

Christine Neumann-Ortiz, executive director of Voces de la Frontera, responded, “It is shameful for Gov. Walker to continue his flip-flop to the extreme right when it comes to justice for immigrants and working families. By announcing his support for restrictions on legal immigration and aligning himself with Sen. Sessions, the leader of the nativist wing of the Republican Party, Gov. Walker has showed his true colors. It is ridiculous for this governor to advance restrictions on immigration as a measure to protect U.S. workers, when his own actions demonstrate his disregard for the plight of working class families in Wisconsin.”

She continued, “His governorship has been a disaster for working families in Wisconsin, immigrant and U.S.-born alike and no amount of trying to pit communities against one another can divert attention from his shameful record.”

Voces de la Frontera, which is based in Milwaukee, is organizing its May Day rally on May 1 and, in the statement, urged people to join the march for immigration reform and to call out Walker.

“This May 1, we call on community members to join us in marching to demand the implementation of administrative relief now, passage of immigration reform with a path to citizenship, funding for public education, living wages and the restoration of collective bargaining rights for all workers,” said Neumann-Ortiz.

Bible Belt Republicans to rule Congress, push far-right agenda

With the walloping Republicans gave Democrats in the midterm elections, the GOP stands one Louisiana Senate runoff away from completely controlling Southern politics from the Carolinas to Texas. Only a handful of Democrats hold statewide office in the rest of the Old Confederacy.

The results put Southern Republicans at the forefront in Washington — from Senate Majority Leader-in-waiting Mitch McConnell of Kentucky to a host of new committee chairmen. Those leaders and the rank-and-file behind them will set the Capitol Hill agenda and continue molding the GOP’s identity heading into 2016.

In statehouses, consolidated Republican power affords the opportunity to advance conservative causes from charter schools and private school vouchers to expanding the tax breaks and incentive programs that define Republican economic policy. The outcome also assures that much of the South, at least for now, will remain steadfast in its refusal to participate in President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul.

“I think these new leaders can help drive the conservative movement” at all levels, said Louisiana Republican Party Chairman Roger Villere, echoing the celebrations of Republican leaders and activists across the region.

Republicans widely have acknowledged that the party now has to prove it can govern. But one-party rule invariably means internal squabbles. Republican White House hopefuls in particular must court Southern Republicans who are more strident than the wider electorate on issues ranging from immigration to abortion and the broader debate over the government’s role — and how to pay for it.

“The Republican presidential nomination will run through the South,” said Ferrell Guillory, a Southern politics expert based at the University of North Carolina. “As Mitt Romney found (in 2012), that … makes it harder to build a national coalition once you are the nominee.”

Even with the South’s established Republican bent, the midterm vote yielded a stark outcome. Besides McConnell’s wide margin, Republicans knocked off North Carolina Sen. Kay Hagan and Arkansas Sen. Mark Pryor. In Louisiana, Republican Rep. Bill Cassidy is the heavy favorite to defeat Sen. Mary Landrieu in a Dec. 6 runoff.

Republicans reclaimed the governor’s mansion in Arkansas and held an open Senate seat in Georgia that Democrats targeted aggressively.

In January, the GOP will control every governor’s office, the majority of U.S. Senate seats, nearly every majority-white congressional district and both state legislative chambers in North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, Mississippi, Arkansas and Texas. Landrieu and Florida Sen. Bill Nelson are the only officials keeping their states from the list.

At the northern periphery of the South, Kentucky’s Legislature remains divided, and Democratic governors in Kentucky and West Virginia are in their final terms.

In Washington, Senate Republicans haven’t parceled out leadership assignments, but Southerners figure prominently among would-be major committee chairmen: Mississippi’s Thad Cochran (Appropriations); Alabama’s Jeff Sessions (Budget) and Richard Shelby of Alabama (Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs); Bob Corker of Tennessee (Foreign Relations); Richard Burr of North Carolina (Intelligence); Lamar Alexander of Tennessee (Health, Education, Labor and Pensions); Johnny Isakson of Georgia (Veterans Affairs).

In the House, Georgia Rep. Tom Price could end up chairing the Budget Committee. Louisiana’s Steve Scalise already won a promotion to majority whip, Republicans’ No. 3 post in the chamber. Georgia’s Rob Woodall chairs the Republican Study Committee, the GOP’s ultra-conservative arm.

The regional differences in the GOP could make it more difficult for McConnell to deliver on his declaration that “just because we have a two-party system doesn’t mean we have to be in perpetual conflict.”

McConnell and Obama have both said they’ll make attempts to find common ground on a range of issues. But elsewhere on election night, Sessions declared in Alabama, “Tonight the American people dramatically repudiated the policies of President Obama. … It was also a dramatic affirmation of the policies our GOP candidates.”

Sen.-elect David Perdue of Georgia struck a similar chord: “Georgia made it loud and clear … that we are going to stop the failed policies of President Obama and Sen. Harry Reid.”

The region also is home to Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, both presidential hopefuls and tea party favorites who have strengthened their absolute approaches, particularly on budget deals.

In Louisiana, Villere rejected the notion that Southerners could complicate Republican policies and electoral fortunes in the long-term. “Whether it was the old Southern Democrats or Republicans now, we’ve pushed the liberal wings of the parties for a long time,” Villere said. “I think it’s good for the party and for the country.”