[JURIST] Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions [official profile] began his confirmation hearing on Tuesday before the Senate Judiciary Committee [official website] for the position of attorney general in the cabinet of President-elect Donald Trump [transition website]. During the hearing, he was pressed [NYT live feed and report] by committee members as to his ability to be independent against Trump. He was also challenged on his prior support waterboarding, and Trump's references to a Muslim ban. Sessions now states that he would not support any Muslim ban pursued by Trump, and that under the current law waterboarding is "absolutely improper and illegal." Sessions also stated he would recuse himself in the event of any investigation into Hillary Clinton's e-mails or the Clinton Foundation [official website]. Throughout the nomination process Sessions has been criticized for his previous comments regarding race, but in the hearing he now offers a forceful denial of those comments. Senator Cory Booker [official website] plans to testify against [CNN report] Sessions Wednesday, marking the first time a sitting Senator has ever testified against another sitting senator in a cabinet confirmation hearing.
The Republican senator and former US attorney had been the first senate member to support Trump [JURIST report] during his presidential campaign, and he later worked with Trump to construct immigration, trade and counterterrorism policies. He is expected [Politico report] to be confirmed since the Republicans will likely have a 52-48 advantage over Democrats in the committee. Sessions will not need to meet a 60-vote threshold for nomination since the requirement has been repealed, and therefore he will likely face little difficulty unless Republicans defect. Upon choosing Sessions for the attorney general position, Trump also chose [Guardian report] Republican Representative Mike Pompeo as the director of the CIA and retired general Michael Flynn as his national security adviser. Both of the chosen candidates are believed to share Trump's views regarding surveillance, espionage and foreign policy. Trump must still make official announcements regarding top positions such as the secretary of state, secretary of defense and treasury secretary.