Jeff Sessions Comes Under Fire During Attorney General Confirmation Hearing

Sessions promising to uphold the law and hoping for a better outcome than 30 years ago, when his bid to be a federal judge failed.
4:29 | 01/11/17

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Transcript for Jeff Sessions Comes Under Fire During Attorney General Confirmation Hearing
We turn now to the showdown on capitol hill. President-elect Donald Trump's pick for attorney general, senator Jeff educatisessions in the hot seat. Tonight, you will hear how he answers questions on his record on race and civil rights. What he says about those confirmation hearings 30 years ago. He promised he would uphold the law and speak truth to the president-elect. ABC's Mary Bruce on capitol hill tonight. Reporter: With just a few paces -- Alabama senator Jeff sessions walked across the hall from his own office into the glare of his confirmation. So help you god. Reporter: And right off the bat found himself confronted by an explosive issue that has dogged him for decades. No trump. No kkk. Sessions is a racist etc. Reporter: In 1986, before the same committee, sessions was denied a federal judgeship over allegations he made a series of racist remarks. Something he adamantly denied. I am not a racist I am not insensitive to blacks. Reporter: And today, he addressed the matter head-on. These are false charges. I abhor the clan. Reporter: Still and over again. Reporter: He was interrupted by protesters. 25 people in all dragged out and arrested. People have fairly promptly tried to label you as a racist or a bigot or whatever you want to say. How does that make you feel? Well, it does not feel good. And it was an organized effort to karkture me. Reporter: Colleagues today coming to his defense. Jeff sessions is a person of integrity, a principled leader and a dedicated public servant. Reporter: But in a rare move, three African-American democratic lawmakers will soon testify against sessions. One of them, civil rights icon, congressman John Lewis. I grew up in Alabama. I know the state. I know the south. We need to make America great again. Reporter: Sessions was the first senator to endorse Donald Trump, but today, he made it clear the attorney general must be independent. He or she must be willing to tell the president or other top officials if he or they overreach. He or she cannot be a mere rubber stamp. Reporter: He also said he would separate himself from any lingering investigations of trump's former rival, Hillary Clinton. During the course of this boisterous political campaign, did you ever chant, "Lock her up"? No, I did not. I don't think. I heard it in rallies and so forth. I believe the proper thing for me to do would be to recuse myself from any questions involving those kind of investigations that involve secretary Clinton. Reporter: Sessions grilled on his own record, but also on the positions of the president-elect. On waterboarding which sessions once supported. Congress is taking an action now that makes it absolutely improper and illegal to use waterboarding. Reporter: On a Muslim ban. Would you support a law that says you can't come to America because you're a Muslim? No. Reporter: And the nominee, stoic, as this Democrat senator asked about the tape. Is grabbing a woman by the genitals sexual assault? Clearly it would be. Mary Bruce with us. The nominee for homeland security being questioned today. Reporter: Kelly testifying here and weighing in on Donald Trump's campaign pledge. Saying that wall along the Mexico border will not be enough to protect the border, and tomorrow, David, Rex tillerson. Trump's controversial pick for secretary of state, most likely to be the most watched hearing. Our thanks again to you. We turn to the other

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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