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

You're reading a preview, sign up to read more.

More from The Atlantic

The Atlantic8 min readPolitics
The New Secession
Residents of the majority-white southeast corner of Baton Rouge want to make their own city, complete with its own schools, breaking away from the majority-black parts of town.
The Atlantic5 min readPsychology
Dear Therapist: I’m Hiding Something From My Therapist
Editor’s Note: Every Monday, Lori Gottlieb answers questions from readers about their problems, big and small. Have a question? Email her at dear.therapist@theatlantic.com. Dear Therapist, Last year, I started working at a company that has an employ
The Atlantic5 min readPolitics
The Trade War Is Just the Beginning
“I have been talking about China for many years. And you know what? Nobody listened,” Donald Trump told a crowd outside Pittsburgh in 2016. “But they are listening now.” If China’s leaders didn’t notice a campaign speech then, the president has their