CNN Editorial Research
Here’s a look at the life of Jeff Sessions, former US attorney general and former Republican senator of Alabama.
Birth date: December 24, 1946
Birth place: Selma, Alabama
Birth name: Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III
Father: Jefferson Beauregard Sessions Jr., business owner
Mother: Abbie (Powe) Sessions
Marriage: Mary Blackshear Sessions (1969-present)
Children: Mary Abigail, Ruth and Samuel
Education: Huntingdon College, B.A., 1969; University of Alabama, J.D., 1973
Military service: US Army Reserve, 1973-1986, Captain
Is an Eagle Scout.
Served on the Senate Budget, Judiciary, Armed Services, and Environment and Public Works Committees.
Supported building fencing along the US border, saying in 2006 that “good fences make good neighbors.”
1973-1975 – Practices law in Alabama.
1975-1977 – Assistant US Attorney for the Southern District of Alabama.
1981-1993 – US Attorney for the Southern District of Alabama.
1986 – President Ronald Reagan nominates Sessions to become a federal judge. The Senate Judiciary Committee opposes the nomination following testimony that Sessions made racist remarks and called the NAACP and ACLU “un-American.”
1995-1997- Alabama Attorney General. During this time, an Alabama judge accuses Sessions of prosecutorial misconduct related to the handling of evidence in a case but ultimately, Sessions is not disciplined for ethics violations.
1996 – Elected to the US Senate. Reelected in 2002, 2008 and 2014.
1997–February 2017 – Republican senator representing Alabama.
February 2, 2009 – Votes in favor of the confirmation of Eric Holder as attorney general.
April 23, 2015 – Votes against the confirmation of Loretta Lynch as attorney general.
February 28, 2016 – Becomes the first sitting US senator to endorse Donald Trump’s presidential bid.
January 3, 2017 – An NAACP sit-in to protest the nomination of Sessions as US attorney general ends when six people are arrested at Sessions’ Mobile, Alabama, office.
February 8, 2017 – After 30 hours of debate, the US Senate confirms Sessions as attorney general by a 52-47 vote.
March 1, 2017 – The Washington Post reports that Sessions failed to disclose pre-election meetings with the top Russian diplomat in Washington. Sessions did not mention either meeting during his confirmation hearings when he said he knew of no contacts between Trump surrogates and Russians.
March 2, 2017 – Sessions recuses himself from any involvement in a Justice Department probe into links between the Trump campaign and Moscow.
March 10, 2017 – The DOJ abruptly announces the firing of 46 US attorneys, including Preet Bharara of New York. Bharara said that during the transition, Trump asked him to stay on during a meeting at Trump Tower.
April 3, 2017 – The Department of Justice releases a memorandum ordering a review of consent decrees and other police reforms overseen by the federal government in response to complaints of civil rights abuses and public safety issues. During his confirmation hearing, Sessions expressed skepticism about the effectiveness of Justice Department interventions in local police matters.
July 21, 2017 – The Washington Post reports that Sessions discussed policy-related matters with Russian ambassador, Sergey Kislyak before the 2016 election, according to intelligence intercepts. Sessions had previously claimed that he did not talk about the campaign or relations with Russia during his meetings with Kislyak.
October 4, 2017 – In a memo to all federal prosecutors, Sessions says that a 1964 federal civil rights law does not protect transgender workers from employment discrimination and the department will take this new position in all “pending and future matters.”
November 14, 2017 – During a House judiciary committee hearing, Sessions says he did not lie under oath in earlier hearings regarding communications with Russians during the 2016 presidential campaign, and denies participating in any collusion with Russia. Sessions also says the DOJ will consider investigations into Hillary Clinton and alleged ties between the Clinton Foundation and the sale of Uranium One.
January 4, 2018 – Sessions announces that the DOJ is rescinding an Obama-era policy of non-interference with states that have legalized recreational marijuana. The reversal frees up federal prosecutors to pursue cases in states where recreational marijuana is legal.
March 21, 2018 – Sessions issues a statement encouraging federal prosecutors to seek the death penalty for certain drug-related crimes, as mandated by law. Seeking capital punishment in drug cases is part of the Trump administration’s efforts to combat opioid abuse.
May 7, 2018 – Sessions announces a “zero tolerance” policy for illegal border crossings, warning that parents could be separated from children if they try to cross to the United States from Mexico. “If you cross the border unlawfully, even a first offense, we’re going to prosecute you. If you’re smuggling a child, we’re going to prosecute you, and that child will be separated from you, probably, as required by law. If you don’t want your child to be separated, then don’t bring them across the border illegally.” On June 20, Trump signs an executive order that will keep far more families together at the border.
May 30, 2018 – Trump again expresses regret for choosing Sessions to lead the Justice Department. In a tweet, he quotes a remark from Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC) who said that the president could have picked someone else as attorney general. “I wish I did!,” Trump tweets. He had first said that he was rethinking his choice of Sessions as attorney general during a July 2017 interview with the New York Times.
June 2018 – More than 600 members of the United Methodist Church issue a formal complaint against Sessions, arguing that the US government’s “zero tolerance” policy on immigration, which was separating migrant parents from their children at the US-Mexico border, violates church rules and may constitute child abuse. On August 8, church officials confirm that the charges filed against Sessions have been dropped.
August 23, 2018 – In response to Trump saying during a Fox News interview that Sessions “never took control” of the Justice Department, Sessions issues a rare statement, saying, “I took control of the Department of Justice the day I was sworn in…While I am Attorney General, the actions of the Department of Justice will not be improperly influenced by political considerations…”
November 7, 2018 – President Trump asks Sessions to resign, effectively firing him. “At your request I am submitting my resignation,” Sessions writes in a letter delivered to White House chief of staff John Kelly.
November 7, 2019 – Announces he is running for his former Alabama Senate seat.
July 14, 2020 – Sessions loses the Alabama Senate GOP primary runoff to former Auburn University football coach Tommy Tuberville.
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