Transcript for NAACP Members Raise Concerns Over Trump's Pick for Attorney General
Casey just tuning in right now you are watching our live coverage rob confirmation hearing of Alabama senator Jeff Sessions and under question all day from many his senate colleagues on the Judiciary Committee. Taking a grilling from the many Democrats there are some other Republicans and if you do. Issues that are sure to come out again and again this is just day one of two. That senator sessions willing to work. There on the hill back here in New York I am on the highs and I'm joined here by former mayor of Baltimore Stephanie Rawlings Blake has been with us all day thanks for being there. My pleasure to be here this is interesting it's it continues to be interesting write a little humorous. But little a good bit of information but it's them. Yeah. This is the next best thing to being in the room. Absolutely and we hope that you are staying with us if you've missed any of the testimony today any of the questions and answers you can always good abcnews.com don't forget they have had coverage. All day and analysis so go online abcnews.com and check that out to get yourself. Caught I do you bring someone down in Washington and I was also been keeping a close eye on this I was actually in the room this morning Hilary Shelton. Is the NAACP. Washington bureau director he joins us live now from Washington DCMR shells and thank you so much for being with us. Allison with so. Am I correct for you in the hearing room this morning -- keep keeping and I am I telling what you thought of how the day's gone so far. Who will yes indeed this amount afraid their from the introduction of mr. sessions to his opening remarks. And then into a number of the questions from his colleagues in the Senate Judiciary Committee. Go there were there was an and over packed room for instance and that would sell shows how. Much interest and concern there was the American people as we've looked at our next attorney general of the United States. There were demonstrators you may have seen for those who watched on television so reference and code pink. Where there actually raising concerns about mr. sessions and mr. trump is well. But it was a very very hopeful and and well attended here. So mr. Fossum why do you feel it necessary to be there in the room to represent the NAACP interest and what did you think of mr. sessions answer to the questions posed to him this morning. Well we're always very anxious and involving any decisions made there as important and rise to the level. Of the most important and powerful. Law enforcement person our country. Missiles certainly the attorney general's office extremely important along those lines. Would actually talk with members of the Judiciary Committee share with them are concerned sent letters of actually polls and mr. sessions confirmation. See we've known missed secession for quite some time. Going back to his years with the as the US attorney deputy US attorney first and US attorney. Then on from there to this position as the state attorney general for the state of Alabama. And certainly have watched very closely over the last twenty years of its worth in Washington DC and most specifically on this Judiciary Committee. There a number of concerns we have about he as a nominee and more importantly. He as the attorney general of the United States as it looked at not only his behavior. Prior to coming to Washington this US senate but also his voting record. On many of the extremely important issues that the attorney general is actually responsible for enforcing. So mr. Shelton count me out here of what continuing Lori some of those concerns for me specifically because your organization. We know. He has that been accused of calling an American in the past. He is also been accused of making racist statements in the past most of which he is denied. He's joked about the kkk. Which he said. With a joke at the time that he should not have made. Can you tell me a little bit about specifically what you are concerned about. As mr. sessions becoming the attorney general. Oh very good as you talk about the issues of the past of course as I think about his position as a US attorney Arctic US attorney first. And US attorney for the Department of Justice. For the southern district of Alabama. And in off from their serving as the state attorney general. There are a number of issues that are in the street that his temperament. Seems to be very concerned as we talk but issues of this interaction. With those who he would be responsible for protecting. Apple sauce be responsible point forcing. By talk about more recently I think that's probably what talent. If you look at his voting record what do you see as the NAACP utilizes is civil rights report card. Mr. sessions has voted less at are less than 10%. Out of a 100% on key civil rights issues important to the African American community and other communities in double ACP sellers. As an example it for those who are watching towards the the end of this as we move towards my discussion. You heard them talking about issues like the violence against women act. The N double ACP was very instrumental in supporting him passed in the files of Islam that understand the challenges of women happened aside. As a look at issues of violence and and domestic abuse rape and other concerns that if a women very specifically. For him to vote against such an important provision. That the NAACP actually worked to put in place as now escalated to a division. Of the Justice Department raises major concerns for us we don't believe that someone that is worked against a law like that should also be given the responsibility of forcing. That's a tough but issues like hate crimes mr. sessions voted against the hate crimes prevention act as well. African Americans are about 60%. Of the reported victims of hate crimes in the United States. We need a Justice Department and very important at the Helm of the Justice Department. An attorney general is also willing to recognize appreciate. And work to fully enforce those laws too to make sure that when these hate crimes happen. We have the fool coalition that made this made up. The federal government state and local governments to solve this very expensive crimes investigated by the way. And of course utilize the new technologies. Like DNA evidence they're also extremely important along those lines. As it is should look at issues that are crucial to our site having our voices heard are as we talk about the right to vote. We know that mr. sessions did vote for the last reauthorization of voting rights act and 92 nose and since mid 2006. But mr. sessions were behind the scenes to weaken the law all along the way as a matter of fact. He was actually planning on moving in the week an amendment to section five of the bullet right side was com referred to as the pre clearance section. But decided to let it go at the last minute. In essence as it thinking about the challenge that we have now. With Shelby vs holder by the decisions of that this struck. Part of the voting rights act makes it much more difficult to utilize my for impossible to utilize section five the pre clearance section. We know that mr. sessions attitude. And the worth the senate before it can has worked against these very very important laws that the Justice Department is responsible for enforcing. Ms. Shelton senator sessions has promised to be an attorney general who will enforce the laws. For all Americans do you believe that he can do that and they will. Well we've seen nothing to demonstrates that in essence as we look at the twenty year history of him serving in the US senate. If we look at the history of what he's done before that again. And Alabama as the state attorney general and as a US attorney in those cases. What was tonight issues and concerns to raise some major concern for us that the N double ACP and others that are seeking civil rights protections in our country. It's very difficult to know how he could do these things when he's demonstrated about his views it isn't as experiences in public life that he would not do. Had not done them and in many cases that we're to Kent Sims very important provisions and protections. All right Hilary Shelton the end Italy CP's Washington bureau director joining us live in Washington DC right now thank you so much for your time mr. shopping. All this is an honor to be with you. Thank you sir back here in New York still with a former mayor of Baltimore Stephanie Rawlings Blake some excellent points race there mr. Shelton those are concerns we're hearing again and again absolute. Thing one of the things that would have been interested to hear from mr. Shelton. Because embrace to same concerns about not really being. Able to be convinced by the answers I'm hearing from senator sessions that. That that what he says he wants to do to be and an attorney general on all Americans that he will be at be curious to hear. From the NAACP or they feel you blindness and it because. What would it look like. What what would he say what could. Sect that senators session say to give them the confidence. That he would enforce the laws for all people with an even hand and not. Continue what they think is a legacy of discrimination and. It is in many ways to have a good faith. Stack he's asking a lot of people to make a right to say that I may have done things in the past few disagreement that may have personally held beliefs. You disagree with that contend with the law but I won't do that moving full. I think that's good. The the underlying tone of this that you know that's the basic question he's asking that they. For the whole hearing united get basically. Give me the benefit of the downton paying you know practicing and I'm an attorney understand the role of an attorney understandable the attorney general. Give me a shot you know you again dislike you semite in we might differ on our policies. But I am a professional. And I get it but you've also is one of those things we beat you trust but it verified so I'm just curious. From some of these groups that have concerns. What would it take to four senator sessions to say to allay some of those consent. The other thing I went to get to take on from your experience was eternally heard again and again. Brought up by both senators Blumenthal and Macy who rodeo. Who we should point out I think he's the only immigrated senator. As well say immigration is this key issue for her as well she's persist from Hawaii. But they product this issue of prosecutorial discretion. Which is to say that your job is not only to enforce the law but you've sorted get to pick which laws you will prioritize to enforce because you can't do every. So how much do you think that will play. In two Powell mr. sessions would serve as attorney general to it to decree have to set an agenda of sorts. You have to set an agenda and you have to have priorities and up prosecute every case. That. Is out there. I have experience with that because we've partnered with the at department that's the US attorney's office on gun crimes involved varsity. We. We're very desperate to. Get used repeat violent offenders. The ones that we know do out there live had very. Had a that track record. Not caring about the community. Through their violence no respect for the community they they've demonstrated that every time they get a chance to to. Be out on the street that they would again. Commit a violent and so. When we weren't seeing the the sentences and the state court that would. Be a deterrent to that behavior we partner with. The US attorney. And we have tons of cases that we wanted them to take but. We understand that they can't they they don't have the resource is to take every single one of those cases so it does matter. That judgment. The attorney general on making the priorities. The you'd think that the attorney general saying these are the types of cases that we will take what is that going to mean when it comes to police reform. What is that going to mean when it comes to consent decrees. I Anke that revisiting that issue of consent decrees because. People are the communities and looking to have more confidence in the police department and one of the pros one of the benefits of a consent decree if it works to. Increase and strengthen confidence in the police department what happens if he decides you know what I'm gonna. Bump that down on the priority list I'm not where we're not going to work to. In force or too soon to work to make sure that there's adequate monitoring for the consent decrees and there's it. It could be a major problems. It's interesting we heard consent degrees come up briefly this morning but not that much apathy comes up again this afternoon. Senator sessions continue to takes questions right now from his colleagues on the Judiciary Committee.
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