The Atlantic

The Cynical Selling of Jeff Sessions as a Civil-Rights Champion

The new attorney general had strong conservative credentials, but no record as a civil-rights advocate. So his defenders invented one.

Source: Yuri Gripas / Reuters

Having picked Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions for attorney general, the Trump administration might have made the case for conservative leadership at the Justice Department. Instead, it chose to portray Sessions as a stalwart defender of civil rights.

This was largely a fiction, one that was as thinly supported as it was ardently asserted by the Trump administration and its allies, as they sought to deflect the 30-year-old allegations of racism that had derailed Sessions’ nomination to the federal bench in 1986. Sessions’s defenders might have simply argued that he was unfairly maligned in 1986 and left it at that. Instead, to

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