— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 9, 2017
NY Times – Senator Jeff Sessions was confirmed on Wednesday as President Trump’s attorney general, capping a bitter and racially charged nomination battle that crested with the procedural silencing of a leading Democrat, Senator Elizabeth Warren.
Mr. Sessions, an Alabama Republican, survived a near-party-line vote, 52 to 47, in the latest sign of the extreme partisanship at play as Mr. Trump strains to install his cabinet. No Republicans broke ranks in their support of a colleague who will become the nation’s top law enforcement official after two decades in the Senate.
But the confirmation process — ferocious even by the standards of moldering decorum that have defined the body’s recent years — laid bare the Senate’s deep divisions at the outset of the Trump presidency. At the same time, the treatment of Ms. Warren, who was forced to stop speaking late Tuesday after criticizing Mr. Sessions from the Senate floor, rekindled the gender-infused politics that animated the presidential election and the women’s march protesting Mr. Trump the day after his inauguration last month.
Mr. Sessions cast his final vote as a senator to note that he was present for Wednesday’s tally. His confirmation was met by applause from his colleagues, including a few Democrats, on the Senate floor.
“I can’t express how appreciative I am for those of you who stood by me during this difficult time,” Mr. Sessions said shortly after the vote. “By your vote tonight, I have been given a real challenge. I’ll do my best to be worthy of it.”
Democrats spent the hours before the vote on Wednesday seething over the rebuke of Ms. Warren, of Massachusetts, who had been barred from speaking on the floor the previous night. Late Tuesday, Republicans voted to formally silence Ms. Warren after she read from a 1986 letter by Coretta Scott King that criticized Mr. Sessions for using “the awesome power of his office to chill the free exercise of the vote by black citizens” while serving as a United States attorney in Alabama.
Since Mr. Trump announced his choice for attorney general, Mr. Sessions’s history with issues of race had assumed center stage. A committee hearing on his nomination included searing indictments from black Democratic lawmakers like Representative John Lewis of Georgia, the civil rights icon, and Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey, who broke with Senate tradition to testify against a peer.