Democratic Sen. Cory Booker and Rep. John Lewis will testify against their colleague Republican Sen. Jeff Sessions Wednesday in a historic move during the hearing for Sessions’ confirmation as attorney general.
This would be the first time in Senate history that a sitting senator will testify against another sitting senator for a Cabinet position.
Sessions’ confirmation hearings, which begin today, are expected to be tarred with decades-old allegations of racism and other disputed controversies.
Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee promised a thorough examination of Sessions’ record. Sen. Chis Coons (D-Del.) told CNN on Monday that there are “many areas where his votes and his record, from civil liberties to civil rights to torture to criminal justice reform to immigration are starkly different from my own.”
Booker called Sessions’ record into question saying that it was, “concerning in a number of ways,” claiming Sessions opposes criminal justice reform and immigration reform, criticized the Voting Rights Act and the “failure to defend the civil rights of women, minorities, and LGBT Americans.”
When Sessions was a U.S. attorney in Alabama, he was denied the opportunity to become a federal judge because Senate Judiciary Committee heard accusations that Sessions had made racist remarks and called the NAACP and ACLU “un-American.”
NAACP president Cornell William Brooks and others were arrested last week for protesting outside of Senator Sessions’ office in Alabama. Several black pastors have also spoken out against Sessions, USAToday reported.
Now, Sessions is likely to face more accusations of racism, levied by black Congressmen including Rep. John Lewis, D-Georgia, Rep. Cedric Richmond, D-Louisiana, the chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, and Senator Cory Booker.
Many are appalled at the politicians making these accusations of racism. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) expressed his disdain for these allegations of racism in an interview with CNN on Monday, calling it slander. “I think it’s unfair for people to, and actually very hurtful, for people to say, ‘Oh, you’re a racist,’ when there’s no evidence in his public career that he ever has been racially insensitive,” Senator Paul said. “So I think it’s a slander and very unfair for people to try to do that to someone. And I think he’s going to do fine in the confirmation process.”
Paul added, “What Cory Booker is doing is nothing but self-serving grabbing headlines. Jeff Sessions is going to answer those questions.”