During his hearing on Tuesday, Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III completely fumbled his answers to questioning on his department’s treatment of African Americans, specifically in regard to Black representation at the DOJ’s senior levels and a heinous FBI report on so-called “Black identity extremists.” Here are a few of the lowlights:
During his line of questioning, Rep. Cedric Richmond gave Sessions every opportunity to trumpet any diversity achievements of the Justice Department, yet the attorney general still seemed to struggle in his answers, for example:
Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-La.): “How many African Americans do you have on your senior staff?”
Attorney General Jeff Sessions: “I do not have a senior staff member at this time that’s an African American. I would note in Alabama, I participated in recommending an African American judge, and I’ve had recommended judges before and…”
Richmond: “We’re talking about this administration, though. Of all of the U.S. Attorneys that have been nominated or confirmed, how many have been African American?”
Sessions: “One in Alabama, that I’ve recommended, that I knew.”
Richmond: “And I believe it’s only that one. All of the special agents in charge of FBI bureaus around the country, how many are African American?”
Sessions: “I do not know.”
Rep. Karen Bass also gave Sessions an opportunity to advocate for the fairness of an FBI report that attempts to identify “Black identity extremist” groups. Here he also seemed to have a difficult time composing a cogent response.
Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif.): “Is there a term or a report on White identity extremists? You mentioned you were familiar with Black people who identify with their racial identity.
Sessions: “Yes, but it’s not coming to me at this moment [laughs].”
Bass: “Has the FBI done a report on White identity extremists that are likely motivated to target law enforcement officers?
Sessions: “I’m not aware of that.”
Bass: “Okay, are you aware of a group called the Sovereign Citizens?
Sessions: “I’ve heard that group, yes.
Bass: “And I believe the Sovereign Citizens is primarily a White organization that absolutely has targeted police officers and killed police officers. You’re not aware of that?
Sessions: “I’m not aware of all their crimes, but I know they are a group that’s known to have violent tendencies.”
Bass: “Can you name an African American organization that has committed violent acts against police officers? Could you name one today? In this report, they name organizations from 30, 40 years ago, but can you name of one today that has targeted police officers in a violent manner?”
Sessions: “I believe I could, but I would want to confirm that and submit it to you in writing. But I believe we had in the last year or so four police officers killed by a group that some have described as extremist.”