The Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday approved the nomination of Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., to become the next attorney general.
The 11-9 vote was along party lines.
— CSPAN (@cspan) February 1, 2017
Democrats used the vote as an opportunity to attack President Donald Trump for his recent executive order on immigration. Democrats also criticized Trump for ousting acting Attorney General Sally Yates after she refused to allow the Justice Department to defend the order.
“What is so tragically apparent here is Trump is unwilling to consider the legal reasons Sally Yates stood her ground and why that position now, more than ever, deserves someone who will stand for the rule of law and constitutional principle,” said Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn.
Sessions’ nomination now moves to the full Senate, where his confirmation is likely because Republicans hold 52 seats in the Senate.
Democrats have claimed Sessions was involved in drafting the executive order Trump issued to temporarily halt immigration from seven terror-prone nations.
“To suggest he didn’t have an impact on these executive orders is misleading,” said Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill. “He had indirect influence at the highest level.”
“I’m not sure if it would be a problem even if he was involved,” said Committee Chairman Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa. “The fact of the matter is, he was not involved.”
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., noted that being a Trump adviser does not disqualify Sessions.
“Who do you expect him to pick?” he asked. “Who do you really expect the president to pick?”
During his conformation hearing, Sessions was asked what he would do if Trump told him to do something against the law.
“I understand the responsibility of the attorney general and I will do so. You simply have to help the president do things he might desire in a lawful way, and you have to be willing to say no…I understand that duty and I will fulfill that responsibility,” Sessions said, adding that he will enforce laws even if they support policies with which he disagrees.
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