Sessions’ Former Aide: ‘Immoral’ for Critics to Attack a Man They Don’t Know
AL NEWS REPORTS:
A black, longtime former aide to Jeff Sessions said the attorney general nominee and Alabama senator said Sessions never made any racial comments to him and accused the NAACP and other civil rights organizations of smearing Sessions’ name and playing the race card.
William Smith, who was a Sessions-appointed lawyer on the Judiciary Committee and rose up the ranks to become the senator’s chief counsel, said he chose to publicly stand up for his former boss after liberal groups attacked Sessions for what they characterized as unfair treatment to blacks and a racist comment to a former colleague of Sessions when he was a U.S. attorney in Mobile.
“Sen. Sessions has never asked me to do this. I am doing this on my own. I have volunteered to do this because he’s an honorable man. I believe he’s been mischaracterized,” Smith told AL.com. “When you have a personal experience with someone, its not appropriate for you to sit on the sidelines and watch someone attack him with false accusations. Based off the kindness that Sen. Sessions has displayed to me throughout my professional career … I’m not going to sit on the sidelines and watch [the opposition] disparage his character.”
Those attacks first started in 1986, when Sessions appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee as then-President Ronald Reagan’s appointee for a federal judgeship. But the nomination failed in part due to the testimony of Thomas Figures, a black assistant U.S. attorney under Sessions who said he called him “boy” and that he thought the Ku Klux Klan was O.K. until he learned they smoked marijuana. Sessions was also accused of calling the NAACP and liberal groups “un-American” and “communist-inspired.”
And now they’re being revisited, with Sessions set to begin two days of confirmation hearings tomorrow as President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee for attorney general.
Smith, who worked for Sessions for nearly a decade and is now chief of staff to Alabama Rep. Gary Palmer, said he never encountered Sessions making racist statements toward him or anyone.
“You would think that someone who worked for him for 10 years, not just spending two minutes with him, but spending hours and hours every day with him, talking about important matters, talking about heated matters, would’ve seen it,” he told AL.com. “And after 10 years I haven’t seen anything.”
In fact, Smith pointed out that Sessions gave him a job on the Senate Budget Committee when the senator became the top Republican on the committee.
“This is not the sign of a man committed to getting rid of an African American,” Smith said.
Last week, the public relations campaign against Sessions came out in full force, with the NAACP staging a sit-in at Sessions’ Mobile office, urging him to withdraw his nomination.
To Smith, the NAACP act was “despicable,” accusing the association and other civil rights groups of misrepresenting Sessions’ civil rights record and rehashing the 1986 confirmation hearing.
“If you don’t like a person because of his policies and you don’t want to explain his policies to the American people, the race card is the only thing you have, so they might play that,” he said of the opposition to Sessions’ nomination. “The reason they had to go back to pre-1986 is because after 1986 they don’t have anything else.”
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