President-elect Donald Trump has selected Sen. Jeff Sessions, a conservative from Alabama whose nomination for a federal judgeship was rejected because of racially charged comments, to be the next attorney general of the United States.
According to the New York Times, Sessions, a former prosecutor, was also being considered for the position of secretary of defense. Sessions was elected to the Senate in 1996 and has opposed immigration reform and proposals to cut mandatory-minimum prison sentences, which disproportionately affect blacks and Latinos.
The Times notes that Sessions is a very well-liked member of the Senate and was the first senator to endorse Trump.
During his tenure as a U.S. attorney in Alabama in the 1980s, Sessions was denied a lifetime judicial appointment by the Senate Judiciary Committee, a committee he’d later come to oversee, after several lawyers testified that Sessions used racially insensitive language, NPR reports.
Sessions would go on to apologize for saying that the Ku Klux Klan was OK “until I found out they smoked pot.” He later claimed that the episode was a joke.
NPR notes that Sessions’ positions on social issues, “including same-sex marriage, marijuana legalization and funding for stem-cell research, are conservative.”