Former Attorney General Jeff Sessions appeared to refer to Henry Louis Gates Jr. as “some criminal” in an interview published in The New York Times Magazine on Tuesday.
Sessions spoke to the Times about his time leading the Justice Department, such as reversing an Obama-era policy that specified protections for transgender workers against discrimination and formalizing a policy on his last day in office that hindered a cornerstone of former President Barack Obama’s police-reform agenda.
“Back to the men and women in blue,” Sessions told the Times, referring to his approach on policing during his tenure at the DOJ. “The police had been demoralized.”
Sessions then appeared to reference the “beer summit” that the former president had with Gates in 2009.
‘There was all the Obama — there’s a riot, and he has a beer at the White House with some criminal, to listen to him,” Sessions told the Times. “Wasn’t having a beer with the police officers. So we said, ‘We’re on your side. We’ve got your back, you got our thanks.’”
A Sessions spokesperson declined to elaborate when the Times requested comment regarding his erroneous “beer summit” reference — Gates attended the “beer summit” alongside the police officer who wrongly arrested him that same year and then-Vice President Joe Biden.
In 2009, Gates was wrongfully arrested by a Cambridge police officer and charged with disorderly conduct while trying to enter his own home after someone called 911 on him. Charges against Gates were dropped, but his arrest sparked a nationwide uproar on racial profiling.
The “beer summit” was held at the White House in light of the nationwide uproar over Gates’ wrongful arrest.
Sessions is set to face a runoff primary election for his former Senate seat in Alabama next month. He is running against former Auburn University football coach Tommy Tuberville.
Correction: This article originally reported that Sessions faces a runoff election for his former Senate seat. He faces a primary runoff. We regret the error.
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