NEWS

Sessions grilling is a sizzler

NY Daily NewsCAMERON JOSEPH NEWS WASHINGTON BUREAU
WASHINGTON -- Sen. Jeff Sessions faced a tough crowd at his confirmation hearing to be the next attorney general, defending his civil rights record against probing questions from his Senate colleagues as protesters interrupted him multiple times.
The Alabama Republican (photo) went straight at what he called "damnably false charges" of racism in his record, claiming he'd fought for civil rights and promising to uphold the rights of every American.
Sessions' civil rights record and comments on race led to the Senate blocking him from a federal judgeship in the 1980s, and he spent much of his opening time seeking to assuage concerns about his past views and comments.
"This caricature of me in 1986 was not correct," he said. "You have a Southern name, you come from south Alabama. That sounds worse to some people."
Sessions seemed intent on convincing his Senate colleagues that he'd uphold the law, setting aside his own views and President-elect Donald Trump's. He said he would recuse himself from any criminal investigation into Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server -- though he wouldn't make the same commitment if Trump or campaign staff came under investigation down the line.
Sessions said during the hearing that he does not "support the idea that Muslims as a religious group should be denied admission to the U.S.," differing from early comments from the President-elect, and acknowledged it's "absolutely" clear that the law bans waterboarding as torture, another disagreement with Trump. He also said the FBI had "honorably reached" its conclusion that Russia had been behind the hacks of Democrats to help Trump's campaign, another split.
Protesters weren't buying it. More than a dozen, including some in mock Klan outfits, were removed from the room during Sessions' testimony. Dozens more were arrested for conducting a sit-in at his Senate office down the hall.
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