How Sessions Might Shake Up Justice Department

Goodbye, closing Gitmo
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 19, 2016 8:19 AM CST
How New AG Might Change Justice Department
Sen. Jeff Sessions speaks to reporters at Trump Tower on Thursday.   (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

(Newser) – Sen. Jeff Sessions is Donald Trump's pick to be the next attorney general and the Alabaman is expected to bring some major changes to the Justice Department, the Washington Post reports. Aides predict Sessions—a leading opponent of closing Guantanamo Bay—will make national security his main priority, reversing the Obama administration's focus on civil rights. In what some see as a disturbing sign of things to come, he argued passionately last year against a Senate resolution that the US shouldn't ban people from the country because of their religion. If Trump goes through with a ban on Muslim immigration, it will be Sessions' job to help put it into effect. In other coverage:

  • Former officials in the Justice Department's civil rights division tell Politico that the appointment of Sessions, who has long faced accusations of racial bias is a "particularly troublesome" one that could cause an exodus from the department. Sessions' defenders say his critics are ignoring his efforts to fight racism in Alabama. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer says he is "very concerned" about Sessions' civil rights policy.

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  • Legal experts tell Reuters that while Sessions has a reputation for being pro-business, his record suggests that he won't shy away from prosecuting corporate wrongdoers. He has argued in favor of being tough on corporate crime and sending white-collar criminals to prison.
  • Forbes reports that the marijuana industry is very worried about what Sessions might do as AG. He has expressed strong anti-marijuana opinions and will have the power to crack down on the drug even in states that have legalized it. It "is false that marijuana use doesn’t lead people to more drug use," he once said. "It is already causing a disturbance in the states that have made it legal."
  • The New York Times notes that the choice of Sessions reflects Trump's view that security is a more important concern than civil liberties. Beyond Gitmo, Sessions has also argued in favor of waterboarding and George W. Bush's warrantless wiretaps.
  • The BBC reports that Trump will meet Mitt Romney Saturday for talks, despite harsh words between the two during the GOP primaries. Romney is rumored to be a candidate for secretary of state. "The president-elect wants the best and brightest people to put this country forward: people who supported him, people who didn't support him," a Trump spokesman says.
(Read more Jeff Sessions stories.)

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