Trump pick opposed by Brown

Published 12:05 am Sunday, January 8, 2017

Ohio senator against attorney general selection

WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, says he will not support Donald Trump’s nominee for U.S. attorney general, becoming the first senator to do so.

In a statement released Friday, following Brown’s meeting with Trump’s pick, U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Alabama, he said he would vote against the nominee in his upcoming Senate confirmation hearing.

Brown said he discussed Sessions’ record on civil rights and pressed him on the need to restore the Voting Rights Act of 1965, sections of which were struck down in 5-4 2012 U.S. Supreme Court ruling.

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“The U.S. Attorney General’s job is to enforce laws that protect the rights of every American,” Brown said in a statement released Friday. “I have serious concerns that Sen. Sessions’ record on civil rights is at direct odds with the task of promoting justice and equality for all, and I cannot support his nomination.”

Trump’s pick of Sessions has come under fire from civil rights groups for past remarks in which he referred to the NAACP as “un-American” and stated they were trying to “force civil rights down the throat of people” and joked the Ku Klux Klan was ““okay, until (he) learned that they smoked marijuana.”

Sessions was nominated for a federal judgeship in 1986 by President Ronald Reagan, but was rejected by a Senate committee after the remarks came to light. Sessions denied the accusations of racism at the time.

Brown’s opposition to Sessions centered around civil rights.

“Now, more than ever, we need leaders who can bring Americans together to improve police-community relations, ensure that all Americans have access to the ballot, and reform our criminal justice system,” Brown said in his statement.

Sessions, who has served as Alabama’s U.S. senator since 1997, was an early supporter of Trump and served as an advisor to the presidential campaign.

Brown said he also asked Sessions about the Justice Department’s role in supporting the City of Cleveland’s progress in improving police-community relations by working with the department through a consent decree.

Sessions has a history of opposing consent decrees, Brown’s office said.

“As Cleveland’s community members and law enforcement work together to improve relations, it’s important that our city has the full support of the Department of Justice in those efforts,” Brown said.

Brown, a Democrat in a state carried by Trump in November, is considered to be a top target of Republicans in the 2018 midterm elections, in which he will be seeking a third term.

Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel, a Republican defeated 51-41 percent by Brown in 2012, has announced his intentions to run again for the Senate seat.