President-elect Donald Trump’s Attorney General nominee Jeff Sessions could be the man that finally takes down former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton — and the idea that he could “lock her up” has Democrats scrambling to fight his confirmation.
But with Republican control of both the House and Senate, it may be too late — the beginning of the end for the Clintons could finally be here.
Sessions cast himself as strong protector of law and order on Tuesday, promising that as attorney general he would crack down on illegal immigration, gun violence and the “scourge of radical Islamic terrorism.”
For months, he also blasted the FBI investigation into the Hillary email scandal and their immunity deal with top Clinton aide Cheryl Mills. As Attorney General, Sessions would oversee both the FBI and Department of Justice – which would give him the power to bring the hammer of justice down on Hillary.
At the opening of his confirmation hearing, Sessions echoed talk used on the campaign trail by Trump, warned of a country struggling to combat illegal drugs flooding across the border, spikes in violent crime in American cities and low morale among the police.
“These trends cannot continue. It is a fundamental civil right to be safe in your home and your community,” Sessions said in prepared remarks laying out conservative priorities for the Justice Department at the opening of his confirmation hearing.
With hours of questioning ahead, Sessions faces angry Democrats that have announced their intention to attack the Alabama Republican — and the fight is expected to be nasty.
“Senate Democrats are poised to throw away 20 years of friendship and a bipartisan working relationship with Sen. Jeff Sessions to wreak political vengeance on him this week as they consider his nomination for attorney general,” according to The Washington Times.
“Highlighting the deep partisan divide and the bad blood between Democratic lawmakers and President-elect Donald Trump, the same senators who have socialized and co-authored reams of legislation with Mr. Sessions are under pressure from liberal interest groups to air accusations that he is a racist, a sexist and a homophobe.”
Sessions, whose 1986 judicial nomination was derailed by allegations of racially charged comments, sought to confront that concern by saying he “understands the history of civil rights and the horrendous impact that relentless and systemic discrimination and the denial of voting rights has had on our African-American brothers and sisters. I have witnessed it.”
“The office of the Attorney General of the United States is not a political position, and anyone who holds it must have total fidelity to the laws and the Constitution of the United States,” Sessions said.
Republicans have expressed strong support for Sessions and are expected to secure more than enough votes needed to confirm him, including from some Democrats in conservative-leaning states.
Sessions is known as one of the most staunchly conservative members of the Senate, and has already drawn opposition from at least two Democratic colleagues, New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker and Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown.
If confirmed, the four-term senator would succeed outgoing Attorney General Loretta Lynch and would be in a position to dramatically reshape Justice Department priorities in the areas of police oversight, law enforcement, and criminal justice.
Sessions was first elected to the Senate in 1996 and before that served as state attorney general and a United States attorney. He’s been a reliably conservative voice in Congress, supporting law enforcement officers, objecting to the proposed closure of the Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, detention facility and opposing as too lenient the controversial 2013 immigration bill.
He will look to turn the page from a failed confirmation hearing in 1986, when his nomination for a federal judgeship failed amid accusations he had made racially insensitive comments as a federal prosecutor.
Sessions’ supporters have pointed to bipartisan work in the Senate and to supportive statements from some Democrats and even the son of a civil rights activist whom Sessions unsuccessfully prosecuted for voter fraud in Alabama. One of the two senators introducing him at Tuesday’s hearing is a moderate Republican, Susan Collins of Maine, suggesting a concerted effort to try to cement his appeal beyond the more conservative members.
Sessions may be asked whether the Justice Department would investigate again Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server while she was secretary of state. Trump said during the campaign that he would ask his attorney general to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate Clinton — something supporters of the president-elect have long hoped for.
The Associated Press contributed to this article