News & Politics

African-American Hill Staffer: In 20 Years, Sen. Sessions Hasn't Said 'Anything Offensive or Racist'

Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., talks with reporters as he arrives at Trump Tower, Monday, Nov. 14, 2016, in New York. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)


After President-elect Donald Trump named Senator Jeff Sessions as his pick for attorney general, liberals began brandishing their pitchforks and lighting their torches. As Trump’s inauguration approaches, they’ve amped up their assault on the character of Senator Sessions. Trotting out decades-old allegations, the left has attempted to brand the senator with the charge of racism. The senator’s camp, of course, hasn’t sat idle, and has directly confronted and answered the accusations.

The point man for Senator Jeff Sessions’ defense is William Smith. Currently Congressman Gary Palmer’s chief of staff, Smith previously worked for Sessions as the chief counsel for the Senate Judiciary Committee. In fact, William Smith was the first African-American to serve any member of the Senate Judiciary Committee as chief counsel.

Smith has made the rounds on most of the major media outlets, and in an email statement he has responded to questions from PJ Media:

PJM: Throughout your two decades of working alongside Senator Jeff Sessions, have you witnessed racist actions and/or words from the senator?

Smith: I have known Senator Sessions for over 20 years and worked for him over ten. Not one time, throughout that entire experience, has he ever said anything offensive or racist. This was not a casual relationship. I’ve been in pressure situations with him for hours at a time, so certainly if he had any racial tendencies, I would have seen them.

PJM: Some would argue that your experience is simply your experience and not necessarily reflective of the experience of other African-Americans, and it’s wrong for you to defend Senator Sessions as not racist. For example, what are we to make of the accusation that the senator referred to a deputy U.S. attorney as “boy” and told him to be careful how he talks to white people?

Smith: It is not just my experience, but the experience of others who have worked with him and around him.  The people attacking Senator Sessions now have not spent any time with him or around him, they simply don’t know him. The assistant United States attorney who alleged that Sessions called him a boy really had no one to back up his allegations and was later indicted on bribery charges. Because he’s dead, I don’t want to say too much, as he’s unable to defend his comments, but even the son of the people Sessions prosecuted has come to his defense and said he is not a racist. I’m not alone in that position.  If people actually studied the record, were concerned about facts, instead of allegations that have been discredited, the truth would come out about Sessions being a good, decent and honest man.

Also, if you look at the other allegations being used against him, those from his 1986 hearing, the two primary witnesses they are relying upon supplemented their testimony to say they lied to the committee. Even though the Democrats knew the record had been corrected, they continued to use the false testimony in their speeches.

PJM: CNN contributor Angela Rye implied that Senator Sessions’ criticism of the NAACP was racist and disqualifies him from serving as the U.S. attorney general. What would you say to those who claim that criticizing the NAACP is innately racist?

Smith: The NAACP is not always right and like any other organization should be criticized when it does something wrong. The NAACP came to Jeff Sessions during Sessions’ fight to reduce the disparities between crack and powder cocaine. At that point, they were praising Sessions for his work. The NAACP opposed Janice Rogers Brown, a fine African American jurist, for her position on the D.C. Circuit, so they have clearly taken some wrong positions. It does not make someone a racist to say the NAACP has been wrong.

PJM: In many of the interviews, you state that Senator Jeff Sessions voted for the Voting Rights Act. Often, while the facts are leaving your mouth, the other guests insist that Senator Sessions spoke out against the Voting Rights Act? What’s the disconnect? Are they taking past words out of context?

Smith: They are definitely taking words out of context. The truth is, there are some problems with the Voting Rights Act that could be corrected to make it better, but the Democrats want to use the Act, not to protect voting rights, but to stigmatize people in the South. The big dispute has been around Section 5, which the Supreme Court struck down.  That section required some states to go to Washington for approval before making any voting changes. The Supreme Court said Congress could not use basically old statistics, with no current evidence of discrimination, to continue to treat states differently. Republicans suggested during the Voting Rights Act debate that Section 5 be expanded to all 50 states. The Democrats rejected that proposal. If the Democrats had supported the change, Section 5 would still be the law today.

PJM: It appears that the Left has focused much of their firepower on Senator Sessions. What is it about the senator that has the Left in such an uproar? Why are they so committed to demonizing him and derailing his confirmation as attorney general?

Smith: The people who are opposing Senator Sessions fear an attorney general who would actually enforce the law, without politicizing the Department of Justice. Over the last 8 years, the Obama administration has simply looked the other way on a number of issues. They know that Senator Sessions is a rule-of-law man, so if they demoralize him now, they will try to make the actions he takes in the future less credible. In addition to him being the first man up for a hearing, there is also fire power because he is from the South and has accusations against him. They’ve used those before to their benefit, even though they knew the allegations were false, before voting against him, so why not use them again.

Senator Sessions loves the rule of law and believes in equal justice under the law. He believes the role of the attorney general is to enforce even the laws he might not agree with and it is the role of Congress to write law. Senator Sessions is intellectually sound, kind and honest and believes everyone should be treated fairly. When you’re in front of the Department of Justice, you want to know that your case is just as important as the next case and that you’re going to get the justice you deserve. I think the background of Senator Sessions says you’ll get just that, through a fair and honest, not political process.