Tim Scott backs Jeff Sessions for attorney general

Sessions' office accused of misconduct in '90s
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Story highlights

  • Sessions was accused of making racist remarks and called the NAACP and ACLU "un-American"
  • Scott said Sessions has a strong record of supporting black Americans

(CNN)Sen. Tim Scott, the only African American Republican currently serving in the Senate, is backing his colleague Jeff Sessions for attorney general, while other groups have expressed concern about the Alabama lawmaker's civil rights record.

"I have gotten to know Jeff over my four years in the Senate, and have found him to be a consistently fair person," he said Monday in a statement. "I will continue working for what I believe is in the best interest of my state and my nation, such as criminal justice reform and stopping illegal immigration."
"For all of these reasons, today I am announcing my support for Senator Jeff Sessions as Attorney General of the United States," Scott said.
    As a US attorney in Alabama, Sessions was denied a federal judgeship in 1986 after the Senate Judiciary Committee heard testimony that Sessions made racist remarks and called the NAACP and ACLU "un-American." The Senate Judiciary Committee is the same panel he'll come before Tuesday for his confirmation hearing.
    Civil rights groups continue to press Sessions, focusing not just on that hearing, but the Republican lawmaker's statements and actions since then. Sessions' fellow senator, Cory Booker, is expected to testify against President-elect Donald Trump's choice for attorney general at the hearing.
    If confirmed, Sessions would oversee the Justice Department's civil rights division and enforce federal civil rights legislation.
    Scott said in addition to researching the 1986 hearing, he and black clergy recently spent time with Sessions to learn "what is in his heart."
    "After his nomination, I invited Senator Sessions to Charleston, South Carolina in December of 2016 to meet with African-American pastors, law enforcement and leaders of color," the South Carolina Republican said. "We had what both the attendees and I believe to be a very productive conversation, which gave us all a clearer picture of not only Jeff's policy positions, but what is in his heart."
    Scott said the 30-year-old allegations are disputable and he's confident that Sessions would be an advocate for the civil rights of all Americans.
    "He joined multiple desegregation lawsuits while serving as a U.S. Attorney, protecting the civil rights of students seeking equal educational opportunity," Scott said about Sessions. "He ensured a KKK murderer received the death penalty. He voted for the first black Attorney General of the United States, and championed the effort to award Rosa Parks the Congressional Gold Medal."