Donald Trump's transition team thinks they've got a fool-proof plan to get its controversial attorney general pick Jeff Sessions through his confirmation hearings, which begin on Tuesday. It includes trotting out prominent African-American lawmakers who can vouch for him.
That's according to Politico, which reported the transition team's strategy to not just get Sessions through the confirmation hearings, but to get him through unscathed:
The transition team has spent weeks lining up prominent African-Americans to vouch for Sessions' civil rights record, including Larry Thompson, a former deputy attorney general, and Theodore Jackson, a former special agent in charge of the FBI in Mobile, Alabama, who worked along Sessions. Thompson will deliver testimony promoting Sessions on Wednesday, when the committee hosts outside witnesses.
It's all been part of a concerted rebranding effort on the part of the transition team to cast Sessions as a friend to African-Americans, law enforcement and even Democratic lawmakers — despite the protests of dozens of civil and voting rights groups.
Already, Thompson, who is black, has spoken out in support of Sessions. "I can tell you as a friend who has known Jeff Sessions for 32 years that Jeff does not have a racist bone in his body," he wrote in a letter to the New York Times.
Still, it will be an uphill battle. Sessions' racist history is well-documented. In 1986, he'd been nominated for United States attorney in Mobile, Alabama, by then-President Ronald Reagan's administration. That's when Gerry Hebert, a white civil rights lawyer, along with many others, testified to Sessions' more egregious acts of racism: calling a black prosecutor a "boy," joking about supporting the Ku Klux Klan until he learned that some of its members smoked weed, and calling the ACLU and NAACP "un-American."
"I think it's very alarming that [Sessions] would be offered the position — and it will be even more alarming if he's confirmed as attorney general," Hebert, director of Campaign Legal Center's voting rights and redistricting program, told Mic's Aaron Morrison back in November.
In addition to his own history, Sessions has rightfully earned the ire of civil rights groups, who have been protesting his nomination since the Trump team announced it. Shortly after the new year, the NAACP staged a sit-in in Sessions' office in Mobile, Alabama.
The Congressional Black Caucus has also vowed to put race front and center at Sessions' confirmation hearings by having some of its highest profile members, including civil rights hero Rep. John Lewis and Sen. Cory Booker, testify. The American Civil Liberties Union also has launched an unprecedented effort against Sessions' appointment.
For decades, Sessions has shown himself to be a stalwart of antiquated Southern racist values. Trump's transition team, already skilled at manipulating the truth, will try hard to hard to do that here.