'Not confident': Chuck Schumer comes out in opposition of Trump's AG pick

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer came out Thursday against fellow Sen. Jeff Sessions, indicating he will vote against confirming him as President-elect Donald Trump’s attorney general.

Sessions’ Senate confirmation hearings, which ran into Wednesday after an eight-hour marathon session on Tuesday, have been contentious. For the first time, a sitting senator testified against a colleague when Democratic Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey took to the stand to assail Sessions’ voting record on civil rights.

 

Schumer said he will vote against Sessions, an indication that other Democratic senators will follow his lead.

“After reviewing his record and giving careful consideration to his answers during the hearing, I am not confident in Senator Sessions’ ability to be a defender of the rights of all Americans, or to serve as an independent check on the incoming administration,” Schumer said in a statement on Thursday.

He added: “I am also deeply concerned by his views on immigration, which I saw firsthand during the push for comprehensive immigration reform. For those reasons, I will oppose his nomination to serve as the next attorney general.”

The hearings have dredged up decades-old racial accusations against the Alabama senator. In 1986, President Ronald Reagan nominated Sessions to be a federal district court judge. But the Republican-controlled Senate Judiciary Committee blocked his nomination because of racially charged comments and actions, accusations Sessions rebuffed.

His confirmation hearing for attorney general was in front of the same committee that rejected him years ago.

Could Schumer’s opposition block Sessions’ nomination?

Other Democratic senators have come out against Sessions. But to successfully reject any pick, which requires a simple majority, all 48 Democrats in the Senate would need to vote against Sessions and have three Republicans join them.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts urged GOP senators to join her in opposing Sessions after Trump named him in November.

“30 yrs ago, a GOP Senate rejected @SenatorSessions‘ judicial nomination, affirming no compromise with racism; no negotiation with hate,” Warren tweeted. “Today, a new GOP Senate must decide whether self-interest & political cowardice will prevent them from once again doing what is right.”

After Trump named Sessions as his attorney-general pick, Schumer signalled his fellow senator would face tough questions, but that he would be open to considering him.

“Given some of his past statements and his staunch opposition to immigration reform, I am very concerned about what he would do with the Civil Rights Division at the Department of Justice and want to hear what he has to say,” Schumer said in November.

After hearing what Sessions had to say, Schumer decided to vote against him.

“The attorney general of the United States has a sacred obligation to enforce our laws and uphold the constitution,” Schumer said in his statement on Thursday. “The law gives a voice to the voiceless, it protects the oppressed from the powerful, and it defends the rights of all people, regardless of gender, sexuality, or religion. … Every right — freedom of speech, freedom of religion, the freedom to vote, or any other enshrined in our Constitution or the law — must be protected for every American.

Schumer also tweeted out part of the statement. Here are the tweets:

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