Senator Jeff Sessions, a conservative Republican from Selma, Ala., will be president-elect Donald Trump’s nominee for U.S. attorney general, transition officials announced Friday.
The first U.S. Senator to endorse Trump, Sessions served as a prominent campaign surrogate and an advisor to Trump on military, national security, and foreign policy issues. Sessions has known Trump for more than a decade and appeared with him at an August 2015 rally in Mobile, Ala. before formally endorsing him in February of this year.
“It is an honor to nominate U.S. Senator Jeff Sessions to serve as Attorney General of the United States,” said President-elect Trump in a statement. “Jeff has been a highly respected member of the U.S. Senate for 20 years. He is a world-class legal mind and considered a truly great Attorney General and U.S. Attorney in the state of Alabama. Jeff is greatly admired by legal scholars and virtually everyone who knows him.”
Sessions served as the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Alabama from 1981 to 1993 and as the Attorney General of Alabama from 1994 to 1996, when he was elected to the U.S. Senate.
Currently a member of both the Senate Judiciary Committee and Armed Services Committee, Sessions was also under consideration for Secretary of Defense, transition officials said. In recent weeks, talk about Sessions’ likely role in a Trump administration has set off a flurry of speculation about who could replace him in the Senate. Assuming Sessions’ nomination is confirmed by the Senate, Alabama Governor Robert Bentley would appoint someone to fill Sessions’ seat in the short-term and schedule a statewide election to fill the remainder of Sessions’ current term, which ends in 2020.
Possible contenders for the appointment could include Congresswoman Martha Roby, Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange, and state senators Trip Pittman and Cam Ward.
Sessions’ nomination as attorney general is likely to face opposition from Senate Democrats and left-leaning activists. Sessions is well-known for his hard-line stance on illegal immigration and has called for the deportation of millions of illegal immigrants. Sessions has also supported Trump’s call for a ban on Muslims entering the United States. Those opposing Sessions’ nomination are already pointing to his failed 1986 appointment to a federal judgeship, which was rejected by the Senate amid allegations that Sessions had made racist comments while working at a U.S. attorney. Sessions denounced the allegations as “ludicrous” at the time and has continued to deny allegations of racism, calling them “heartbreaking” in 2009.