President-elect Donald Trump’s pick to lead the Justice Department omitted a previous failed bid for a federal judgeship from a Senate Judiciary Committee questionnaire he submitted last week. He had been rejected for the judgeship in the 1980s by that same committee after racially charged comments came to light during confirmation hearings.
NPR flagged Monday that Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) had failed to include his 1986 bid for a federal judgeship under a question asking for “any unsuccessful candidacies you have had for elective office or unsuccessful nominations for appointed offices.”
The 1986 confirmation hearings, in which a former assistant U.S. Attorney and a Justice Department employee accused Sessions of using racist language in comments and jokes he made to them, became a major story nearly as soon as Sessions’ nomination was announced.
At the time, a black former assistant U.S. Attorney, Thomas Figures, testified that Sessions had said during an investigation involving the Ku Klux Klan that he “used to think they were okay” until he found out they smoked marijuana.
Figures also said Sessions called him “boy” multiple times and once told him “be careful what you say to white folks.” Sessions called his comment about the KKK a joke, and denied saying the rest of what Figures had claimed.
Another man, Justice Department employee J. Gerald Hebert, testified that in conversation Sessions had called the NAACP and ACLU “un-American” and “Communist-inspired.” Sessions admitted saying as much about the NAACP, but not about the ACLU.
Sessions’ confirmation hearings for U.S. attorney general are slated to begin on Jan. 10.