Gov. Dannel Malloy issued a statement on Friday about President-elect Donald Trump’s choice of Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions as U.S. Attorney General, calling the selection “troubling.”
Sessions “has a troubling track record on matters such as civil liberty protections and a history of demonstrating poor judgment as evidenced by his previous pejorative, insensitive comments towards people of color,” Malloy said. “These comments must be scrutinized during his confirmation hearings.”
Malloy was referencing incidents that came to light during 1986 Senate Judiciary Committee hearings to approve then-President Ronald Reagan’s nomination of Sessions as a judge for the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Alabama. Department of Justice attorney J. Gerald Hebert testified that Sessions had called the NAACP and ACLU “un-American” and “Communist-inspired” because they “forced civil rights down the throats of people.”
Thomas Figures, a black former Assistant U.S. Attorney, also testified that Sessions had called him “boy” and had said he thought the Ku Klux Klan was “okay until I found out they smoked pot.”
Sessions said the KKK remark was meant as a joke, and denied the other allegations; still, he failed to win Senate confirmation. Sessions was elected Alabama’s Attorney General in 1994 and has served in the Senate since 1996.
“Regardless of the outcome of (the) hearings (for U.S. Attorney General), reducing recidivism rates, lowering crime rates, and improving life outcomes for offenders should not be a partisan issue,” Malloy said. “Senator Sessions has shown a willingness to improve the justice system by supporting his home state’s drug courts as well as efforts to address disparities in sentencing laws.
“Here in Connecticut, we’re proving that smarter, fairer approaches to these problems can and do lead to better outcomes,” the governor said. “The changes we have made to our criminal justice system have resulted in lower crime rate, safer communities, and fewer people caught up in the cycle of crime, prison and poverty.
“While Senator Sessions’ past behavior, comments and actions give cause for real concern, should he be confirmed as our next U.S. Attorney General, I strongly urge he and the administration to follow the bipartisan work being done in Connecticut and elsewhere to make our criminal justice system more fair and cost-effective,” Malloy concluded.