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President-elect Donald Trump has picked Republican Senator Jeff Sessions as his attorney general and made other selections to fill key positions in his administration.
The Trump transition team confirmed the selection of Sessions on Friday. Sessions strongly backed and advised Trump since the beginning of his presidential campaign.
Trump has also nominated Congressman Mike Pompeo to serve as director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and named retired Lt. General Mike Flynn as national security advisor.
Flynn would not require U.S. Senate confirmation, unlike Sessions and Pompeo.
Sessions could face tough questions during hearings, even with Republicans in control of the chamber. When Sessions was nominated for a federal judicial position 30 years ago, he was sharply criticized for racist remarks he allegedly made while serving as U.S. attorney in his home state of Alabama.
During the 1986 hearing, former assistant U.S. attorney Thomas Figures, an African American, testified Sessions referred to him as “boy” and warned Figures to be careful about what he said to “white folks.”
Sessions denied he ever called Figures “boy” but then U.S. Senator Edward Kennedy produced a letter from a group of African-American attorneys that said Figures made the allegations about Sessions to the group at least twice.
Former colleagues also testified that Sessions joked that the Ku Klux Klan, a white extremist group, was “okay until he learned they smoked marijuana.”
Sessions eventually withdrew from consideration for the judicial post and went on to become state attorney general before winning election to the Senate in 1996.
Sessions is also known for his anti-immigration position. He has opposed most immigration bills the Senate has considered over the past two decades, including those supporting legal immigration. And a Sessions aide helped the president-elect articulate his immigration policy.
If Sessions is confirmed as attorney general by the Senate, he would be the country’s top prosecutor and law enforcement official.
Pompeo, from the midwestern state of Kansas, was among the first group of conservative tea party congressional members to be elected in 2010.
In a statement, Trump said Pompeo will be a “brilliant and unrelenting leader” of the CIA.
After graduating first in his class at West Point in 1986, the 52-year-old congressman served as a U.S. Army Calvary officer.
Pompeo is a member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and founded and subsequently sold Thayer Aerospace, which makes components for commercial and military aircraft.
A close ally of Vice President-elect Mike Pence, Pompeo is a staunch opponent of President Barack Obama’s nuclear agreement with Iran.
National Security Adviser
Flynn held a similar role as Trump’s go-to national security adviser during the campaign, and Flynn will likely play a big role in Trump’s foreign policy decisions moving forward, since Trump has no practical military experience.
The 57-year-old Democrat is a decorated combat veteran who retired as a three star general, one of the highest ranks possible. He is also the former head of the Defense Intelligence Agency.
After several years of successive promotions within Army intelligence operations, Flynn was nominated by U.S. President Barack Obama to be director of the Defense Intelligence Agency. He held the position for two years before retiring in 2014 after reportedly being forced out for his poor management style.
Flynn was criticized by former colleagues last year when he traveled to Moscow and appeared next to Russian President Vladimir Putin at a posh event for the state-run propaganda television channel Russia Today (RT). Flynn said he was paid to attend the event and defended the trip by saying he believed RT was no different than some American all news channels.