Tuesday, January 10, 2017

White Supremacy As Institutional Force and Public Policy in the Neofascist Regime of Donald Trump: The Insidious Nomination of Jeff Sessions for Attorney General of the United States

The notorious white supremacist, anti-immigrant, misogynist, and homophobic record of JEFF SESSIONS --Trump's new cabinet nominee for ATTORNEY GENERAL--
American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)


Post from November 18, 2016:

ACLU National ‏@ACLU 2h2 hours ago
Here's the 23-page memo attorney general nominee Jeff Sessions created devoted to opposing immigrants 

http://www.sessions.senate.gov/…/immigration-primer-for-the…

ACLU National ‏@ACLU 2h2 hours ago
Trump's attorney general nominee Jeff Sessions referred to the Voting Rights Act as a "piece of intrusive legislation."

ACLU National Retweeted

ACLU National ‏@ACLU 3h3 hours ago
Getting to know Jeff Sessions, Donald Trump's attorney general nominee


ACLU National ‏@ACLU 2h2 hours ago
Thomas Figures testified under oath that Sessions joked he thought KKK members were "OK, until he learned that they smoked marijuana."


ACLU National ‏@ACLU 2h2 hours ago
Trump's attorney general nominee Jeff Sessions said immigration reform will “benefit everyone but actual American citizens.”


ACLU National ‏@ACLU 2h2 hours ago
Attorney general nominee Jeff Sessions called for constitutional amendment to stop granting automatic citizenship to people born in the U.S.


http://www.huffingtonpost.com/…/trump-attorney-general-jeff…

POLITICS

Jeff Sessions Was Deemed Too Racist To Be A Federal Judge. He’ll Now Be Trump’s Attorney General.

He once joked that he only took issue with the KKK’s drug use and referred to civil rights groups as “un-American.”

November 17, 2016
by Ryan J. Reilly
Senior Justice Reporter
The Huffington Post


JEFF SESSIONS

WASHINGTON ― The man who President-elect Donald Trump will nominate as the 84th attorney general of the United States was once rejected as a federal judge over allegations he called a black attorney “boy,” suggested a white lawyer working for black clients was a race traitor, joked that the only issue he had with the Ku Klux Klan was their drug use, and referred to civil rights groups as “un-American” organizations trying to “force civil rights down the throats of people who were trying to put problems behind them.”
Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), an early Trump supporter who has been playing a major role on the Trump transition team, met with the president-elect in New York on Thursday. In a statement, the Trump team said the president-elect was “unbelievably impressed” with Sessions.

On Friday morning, Trump and Sessions confirmed that Sessions had been offered the attorney general position.
J. Gerald Hebert remembers Sessions’ time as the top federal prosecutor in Mobile, Alabama, well. Speaking to The Huffington Post earlier this month, Hebert said he was stunned that an Attorney General Jeff Sessions is a possibility.

More than three decades ago, Hebert was in his 30s and working on voting rights cases for the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division. He was based in D.C. but spent time in Alabama working with Sessions, who was a U.S. attorney in Ronald Reagan’s administration.

“He was very affable, always wanting to have a conversation, a cup of coffee,” Hebert said. “Over the course of those months, I had a number of conversations with him, and in a number of those conversations he made remarks that were deeply concerning.”

After Sessions was nominated to be a federal judge in 1986, Hebert appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee to testify about these remarks. It was unusual for a career DOJ lawyer to testify about a judicial nominee’s character, and Hebert said at the time that he did so with “very mixed feelings,” telling senators he considered Sessions “a friend.” Hebert told them Sessions had “a tendency to pop off” and that he was “not a very sensitive person when it comes to race relations.”

HuffPost reviewed a transcript of the Sessions’ 1986 confirmation hearings. In this selection, Hebert testified that he had once relayed comments about a white lawyer being described as a race traitor, and that Sessions had responded by saying “he probably is”: 

Congressional transcript

Sessions testified that he did not believe he had made such a remark, but his views changed as he reflected.


“The best I could recall was that I said, well, he is not that popular around town; I have heard him referred to as a disgrace to his race,” Sessions said. He said he did not personally believe that the white civil rights attorney was a race traitor, and that he had respect for him.

Sessions testified that he enjoyed the “free flow of ideas” and liked to stir it up with Hebert when he was in town. “I like to discuss things. I am open: I like to discuss with liberals better than I do with conservatives,” Sessions said.
In describing one conversation with Hebert on civil rights, Sessions articulated his view that things were pretty great for minorities in the 1980s and that civil rights organizations were asking for too much.

“I made the comment that the fundamental legal barriers to minorities had been knocked down, and that in many areas blacks dominate the political area, and that when the civil rights organizations or the ACLU participate in asking for things beyond what they are justified in asking, they do more harm than good,” Sessions testified.
That’s not exactly how Hebert recalled it:

Congressional transcript


Sessions also called the American Civil Liberties Union and NAACP “communist-inspired,” Hebert testified.

Thomas Figures, a former assistant U.S. attorney, backed up Hebert’s testimony about Sessions’ views. He told Congress that Sessions said the NAACP, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, Operation Push and the National Council of Churches “were all un-American organizations teaching anti-American values.”
“I recall saying that civil rights organizations, when they demand more than is legitimate, it hurts their position,” Sessions testified. 

Figures, who died last year, also said that Sessions once warned him to “be careful what you say to white folks” after Figures told a white secretary that he found a comment she made offensive. Figures was the only black assistant U.S. attorney in the office.

“Had Mr. Sessions merely urged me to be careful what I say to ‘folks,’ that admonition would have been quite reasonable,” Figures said. “But that was not the language that he used. I realize, on the other hand, that Mr. Sessions’ remark may not have been premeditated. There was a period in our own lifetimes when blacks where regularly admonished to be particularly polite or deferential, and a remark of that sort may have just slipped out inadvertently.”

Figures also testified that Sessions and two others in the office referred to him as “boy.” Figures said he couldn’t say anything about it to Sessions because his position with him was “tentative.”

“I felt that if I had said anything or reacted in a manner in which thought appropriate, I thought I would be fired,” Figures said. “I had to guard my reaction to things, Senator, because I needed a job at the time... So I took a lot of things; I just kept it inside.”

Sessions “categorically” denied using the term “boy” to refer to Figures. “I have never used the word ‘boy’ to describe a black, nor would I tolerate it in my office,” Sessions testified.

Hebert said Figures’ testimony would be consistent with the views he believes Sessions holds.

“He demonstrated gross insensitivity to black people. So Tom Figures reporting that he had been called ‘boy’ by Jeff Sessions, that wouldn’t surprise me at all,” Hebert told HuffPost.

Figures also said that Sessions, during a “very spirited discussion” about one civil rights case, threw a file on the table and said, “I wish I could decline all of them.” Figures said it was clear the remark was made in anger, and noted that Sessions didn’t make him toss out all of the civil rights cases, even though he apparently wished that they’d disappear.
“Mr. Sessions did not make such a remark to me on any other occasion, and he did not direct me then, or at any other time, to in fact systematically decline all civil rights cases,” Figures testified.

Figures also said that Sessions would overrule him solely in criminal civil rights cases.

“In all fairness to Mr. Sessions, however, I should make clear that the problems which existed in the area of civil rights were not present in other aspects of my case assignments,” he said. “Except in criminal civil rights cases, Mr. Sessions deferred to my recommendations regarding whether to pursue cases, and never withdrew a case assignment because he disagreed with my recommendations.”

Sessions also remarked that he thought the KKK was OK until he found out they smoked marijuana, according to Figures. The statement was made in connection with the prosecution of a Klan member who had hanged a black man. From Figures’ testimony:


Congressional transcript


Questioned at the time by now-Vice President Joe Biden, Sessions admitted to the comments and said they were intended humorously.


Congressional transcript


Congressional transcript


Biden also asked Sessions about the allegation that he had used a racial slur after a court hearing when he was in private practice. (The term appears uncensored in the transcript below. The U.S. Senate didn’t approve C-SPAN cameras until later that year.)



Congressional transcript


Sessions’ nomination was ultimately defeated in June 1986, making him the first Reagan nominee the Senate Judiciary Committee rejected.


Before his rejection, Sessions told senators he denied many of the claims made against him and that he felt he had been “caricatured.” 

“All of us know that when the confidence of a private conversation is breached by a party with ulterior motives or one who simply misunderstands what the speaker says or means, he speaker can always be embarrassed,” Sessions said. “I enjoy repartee and frequently engage in devil’s advocacy. In short, when I talk to friends, I do not guard every word that I say because I think that I know they know that my commitment to equality and justice is real, and they would not twist my words or misinterpret what I am saying to them.”

“I deny as strongly as I can express it that I am insensitive to the concerns of blacks,” Sessions said.

Hebert, like many civil rights advocates, is deeply concerned about the future of the Civil Rights Division in a Trump administration. He referenced the politicization of the Civil Rights Division under former President George W. Bush, when political officials abandoned much of the division’s work.

“I fear we’ll see a repeat of that, or perhaps worse,” Hebert said. “I worry about those who are in the Civil Rights Division now, and what it will do to their careers. But more importantly, what it’s going to do to minority voters, minority citizens, across the country who need their basic fundamental human rights protected.”

“Just the thought of him overseeing the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division is frightening,” Hebert said. “He’s a mean-spirited individual.”

Hebert said his friends in Alabama were disappointed that Sessions didn’t become a federal judge because it would have prevented him from acceding to his current position.
“He would have quietly disappeared into the history books instead of being a U.S. senator and being on the Judiciary Committee,” Hebert said. “They tongue-in-cheek say to me, ‘Thanks a lot, Gerry.’”

All,
AS I SAID BEFORE: JEFF SESSIONS IS NOTHING BUT A KLANSMAN IN A SUIT AND A CONTEMPTIBLE PATHOLOGICAL LIAR TO BOOT. DON'T BELIEVE ME? CHECK OUT WHAT THE LATE CORETTA SCOTT KING SAID ABOUT SESSIONS WHEN HE WAS REFUSED A FEDERAL JUDGESHIP IN 1986 BECAUSE OF HIS RAGING WHITE SUPREMACIST VIEWS AND BEHAVIOR...

Kofi

https://www.washingtonpost.com/…/read-the-letter-coretta-…/…

PowerPost

Congress

Read the letter Coretta Scott King wrote opposing Sessions’s 1986 federal nomination
by Wesley Lowery
January 10, 2017
The Washington Post

 


The widow of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. urged Congress to block the 1986 nomination of Jeff Sessions for federal judge, saying that allowing him to join the federal bench would “irreparably damage the work of my husband,” according to the letter written by King that was previously publicly unavailable and obtained on Tuesday by The Post.

(Read the full letter below)

“Anyone who has used the power of his office as United States Attorney to intimate and chill the free exercise of the ballot by citizens should not be elevated to our courts,” King wrote in the cover page of her 9-page letter opposing Sessions’s nomination, which failed at the time.

“Mr. Sessions has used the awesome powers of his office in a shabby attempt to intimidate and frighten elderly black voters. For this reprehensible conduct, he should not be rewarded with a federal judgeship.”

Thirty years later, Sessions, now himself a senator, is again undergoing confirmation hearings as President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee for attorney general, and is facing fierce opposition from civil rights groups.

In the letter, King writes that Sessions’s ascension to the federal bench “simply cannot be allowed to happen,” arguing that as a U.S. attorney, the Alabama lawmaker pursued “politically-motivated voting fraud prosecutions” and that he “lacks the temperament, fairness and judgment to be a federal judge.” She said Sessions’s conduct in prosecuting civil rights leaders in a voting fraud case “raises serious questions about his commitment to the protection of the voting rights of all American citizens.”

“The irony of Mr. Sessions’ nomination is that, if confirmed, he will be given a life tenure for doing with a federal prosecution what the local sheriffs accomplished twenty years ago with clubs and cattle prods,” she wrote, later adding: “I believe his confirmation would have a devastating effect on not only the judicial system in Alabama, but also on the progress we have made toward fulfilling my husband’s dream.”

During the 1986 hearing, the letter and King’s opposition became a crucial part of the argument against Sessions’s confirmation. Current Judiciary Chair Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) has not previously released the letter, which committee rules grant him the sole authority to reveal.
Buzzfeed News first reported the existence of the letter earlier Tuesday, noting that it was never entered into the congressional record by then-Judiciary Committee Chairman Strom Thurmond.

The full letter: SEE ORIGINAL TEXT IN THE ARTICLE

Monday, January 9, 2017

How and Why White Supremacy Will Play A Major Institutional and Public Policy Role in the Neofascist White House of Donald Trump

All,

Jeff Sessions is nothing but a Klansman in a suit, a virulent and demagogic white supremacist who absolutely despises African Americans and the enforcement of their legal and constitutional rights as citizens in general and all immigrants of color in particular. The nomination of this dyed in the wool racial segregationist and relentlessly anti-immigrant bigot to the position of Attorney General of the United States is a blatant political statement of the utter hatred and contempt that the billionaire sociopath and his neofascist regime has for all black and Latino Americans who insist on social and criminal justice and the federal protection and defense of their human and civil rights. Stay tuned because it's only going to get much worse very soon once Sessions is confirmed...

Kofi 

http://www.nytimes.com/…/jeff-sessions-attorney-general.htm…

Politics

Jeff Sessions, a Lifelong Outsider, Finds the Inside Track
by SHARON LaFRANIERE and MATT APUZZO
January 8, 2017
New York Times 


 
Senator Jeff Sessions, an Alabama Republican and the nominee for attorney general, greeting President-elect Donald J. Trump in Mobile on Dec. 17. Credit Stephen Crowley/The New York Times

WASHINGTON — During nearly two decades in the Senate, Jeff Sessions had never endorsed anyone in a presidential primary. But last January, the Alabama Republican, afraid that his party was floundering, sent a five-point questionnaire to all its presidential contenders to determine who might deserve his support.

Just one answered: Donald J. Trump.

Mr. Sessions is in many ways Mr. Trump’s antithesis: reedy-voiced, diminutive and mild-mannered, a devout Methodist and an Eagle Scout who will soon celebrate a golden wedding anniversary with his college sweetheart. His father ran a country store in the Deep South. And he is widely regarded as rigidly honest and inflexible on issues he considers matters of principle. Mr. Trump has meandered across the political spectrum; Mr. Sessions has been a deeply conservative Republican his entire life.

But besides their age — both are 70 — Mr. Sessions shared one trait with Mr. Trump: He was an outsider, dismissed by much of the Republican Party as a fringe player on all but his signature issue, immigration. The two men unexpectedly bonded over their willingness to buck the establishment and the unlikely hope that lower-middle- and working-class voters would carry a billionaire to the White House.

Donald Trump By SHANE O’NEILL 2:37
Jeff Sessions: Consistently Conservative
Video: Jeff Sessions: Consistently Conservative

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For Mr. Sessions, that alliance has paid off in a fashion that few ever imagined. Rejected for a federal judgeship, passed over for a crucial Senate committee chairmanship and long considered too far right to attain a cabinet post, he has defied the odds.

Within days, he could be confirmed as attorney general of the United States.

Some cabinet nominees arrive at confirmation hearings with records that require considerable guesswork. Not Mr. Sessions. His rock-ribbed conservatism was forged in the deep poverty and isolation of rural Alabama, sharpened during 16 years as a federal prosecutor and state attorney general and polished as a senator. After one of the most liberal periods in Justice Department history, Mr. Sessions is expected to execute an about-face on the Obama administration’s policies of immigration, criminal justice and — many critics fear — civil rights.

He argues that immigrants are siphoning billions in welfare payments, committing crimes and snatching jobs from Americans. He has questioned whether the Constitution guarantees citizenship to anyone born in the United States, as the 14th Amendment states, and has insisted that the First Amendment doctrine of separation of church and state has been too broadly interpreted. He declared same-sex marriage an indisputable threat to American culture and once went to court to deny funding for gay student groups. Overreaching by the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, he has said, at times has led to “civil wrongs.”

He favors stiff, mandatory penalties for drug offenses, believes that the government has grown soft on crime and objects to what he sees as unwarranted criticism of police behavior.

Jeff Sessions, in His Own Words


Mr. Sessions, the nominee for attorney general, has been a consistent voice for conservative policies for nearly two decades in the Senate. Here are some of his positions on the issues.

Mr. Sessions is not a uniquely conservative pick; John Ashcroft, attorney general under President George W. Bush, held similarly strident views. But Mr. Ashcroft was a party stalwart whom any number of Republican presidents might have nominated. Mr. Sessions offers an uncompromising brand of conservatism that combines Christian and small-government values with strains of populism and a willingness to say the unpopular, or even offensive. He speaks to a disenchanted electorate that includes the white, nationalistic fringes of his party. In short, he is a uniquely Trump nominee to lead the Justice Department.
To many Trump supporters, he is a rare public servant with the backbone to enforce the nation’s laws strictly, regardless of political consequences. “He has been the leader of this populist revolt against the political elite,” Stephen K. Bannon, the former head of Breitbart News Network who will be a senior White House adviser, said in February.

Critics see Mr. Sessions as a throwback to a bygone South. “His whole life, he has been on the wrong side of every issue,” said Wayne Flynt, a politically progressive Alabama history professor who has followed his career for decades. On questions about voting, gays and immigration, he said, “he has argued to narrow democracy, not broaden it.”


The roots of his ideology, and the combination of independence and tenacity that has carried Mr. Sessions to this point, can be found in rural Alabama, where he grew up.


A Strict Code


Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III was named after his father, who was named after his grandfather, who was named after the Confederate president Jefferson Davis, his parents once said. Buddy, as he was called, grew up an only child on the ragged edge of Alabama’s famous Black Belt in Hybart, a one-crossing hamlet where his father ran a store. The family lived in a one-story house with no driveway, a small concrete front stoop and a heating system consisting of a fireplace and space heaters.

Birmingham had a steel industry. Mobile had a port. But around Hybart, work was limited mostly to logging or farming. Neighboring Wilcox County, home to the nearest town of any size and Mr. Sessions’s high school, then was one of the nation’s poorest. It still is.


Photo: A 1969 yearbook photo of Mr. Sessions as a student at Huntingdon College in Montgomery. He led the student government association and the Young Republicans club there.


He learned thriftiness from his parents, who grew up during the Depression. Upon becoming a United States attorney in 1981, he had only $750 in the bank, records show. Friends joke that even after he attained the comfortable life of a senator decades later, he refused to replace an aging car or the outdated kitchen countertops at his home in Mobile.

It was an environment that fostered Mr. Sessions’s belief in frugality and self-reliance, bounded by a strict — if much disputed — code of what was and was not fair.

It also bred, even early on, a skeptic’s eye toward elites. His parents were longtime Republicans in a state that had been run by Democrats since Reconstruction. In high school, as racial politics laid the foundation for the eventual Republican takeover of the South, Mr. Sessions was fascinated by Phyllis Schlafly’s book “A Choice Not an Echo,” a catechism on the split between the Republican Party establishment and its right wing. The book enjoined true conservatives to topple the party’s kingmakers and compromisers, presaging the rise of the Tea Party and Mr. Trump — and now, Mr. Sessions himself.

Unpopular ideas did not faze him, even as a schoolboy. His mother told one reporter, “That boy could argue with a signpost.” His high school yearbook photo bore the caption: “He is a host of debaters in himself.”

Alabama’s economic struggles helped define his political priorities. As a young man, he watched timber imports eat into local logging jobs, cheaper foreign steel hasten the closing of Birmingham mills, and immigrants take jobs in the fields and chicken processing plants. Most economists say those changes were largely unavoidable as the United States shifted from an economy based on manual labor to one rooted in services and knowledge. But Mr. Sessions saw a threat to the hard-working families he had grown up with, former aides said.

To Alabama voters, weary of decades of Democratic back-scratching and scandals, Mr. Sessions seemed a breath of fresh air when he emerged on the political scene in 1994, after 12 years as the top federal prosecutor in Mobile. As the state’s attorney general, his first elective post, he slashed staff, pay, travel, cars and supplies. Republican leaders hoped he would come to the rescue of the former governor, Guy Hunt, who was removed from office after a 1993 ethics conviction. Instead, Mr. Sessions asked a federal appeals court to uphold the conviction.

The business-dominated establishment wing of Alabama’s Republican Party is closer to the state’s senior senator, Richard C. Shelby. Mr. Sessions’s political base included rural and suburban working-class and evangelical white voters — the same constituencies that proved crucial to Mr. Trump’s success in November. “Sessions had a Trump movement before there was a Trump,” Professor Flynt, of Auburn University, said.

His record as Alabama’s attorney general — he served just two years before winning election to the Senate in 1996 — showcases his fiercely conservative views. Mr. Sessions supported reviving chain gangs of volunteer inmates. He defeated a court order that would have directed more state money to schools in poor districts by arguing that a single judge had usurped management of the entire state school system. He supported efforts to tighten identification requirements for Alabama voters and backed a county judge who posted the Ten Commandments in his courtroom and opened court with a daily prayer.

Photo: Mr. Sessions’s nomination to a federal judgeship in 1986 foundered when senators of both parties questioned his commitment to civil rights. Credit Terry Ashe/The LIFE Images Collection, via Getty Images

Alabama liked what it saw: Seeking his fourth term in 2014, Mr. Sessions was the only United States senator to run unopposed. “He doesn’t hide who he is. He’s a conservative guy,” said former Senator Mark Pryor, a Democrat from Arkansas who once led the Senate’s weekly prayer breakfast with Mr. Sessions. “He doesn’t represent Massachusetts. He represents Alabama.”

But his rigid views and his willingness to buck the Republican leadership isolated him in the Senate. A fervent budget hawk, he was ready with his own spending plan when Republicans captured the Senate after the 2014 elections. But party leaders passed him over for chairmanship of the powerful Budget Committee, leaving him the longest-serving senator without a committee to lead. Former aides describe the decision as payback for Mr. Sessions’s relentless opposition to bipartisan efforts to ease immigration restrictions.

Republican purists like the radio host Rush Limbaugh said Senate power brokers were punishing a courageous truthsayer. “That alone tells you where the Republican leadership mind-set is on this,” Mr. Limbaugh said on his program in 2014. “They want to take out the one primary voice of opposition.”

Civil Rights

There is perhaps only one area in which Mr. Sessions’s views are in question. It is the source of his sole setback in four decades of public life and most of the controversy over his nomination.

As Mr. Sessions attended his church youth group and worked toward the rank of Eagle Scout in the early 1960s, Alabama was emerging as ground zero of the civil rights movement, the backdrop for violence and bravery since immortalized in museums. But as he has himself suggested, the era’s historic tumult largely escaped him.

Segregation permeated the rural Alabama of his youth. As late as 1985, his father told a local paper that he believed in it, although he stressed he was not speaking for his son. Wilcox County High School, where Jeff Sessions was voted senior class president in 1964, was an all-white institution. African-Americans, the majority of county residents, were largely illiterate, living in unpainted wooden shacks insulated with newspapers, their children shunted to squalid schools with no instructional materials.

In March of Mr. Sessions’s senior year, demonstrators from the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and Southern Christian Leadership Conference came to town, demanding that African-Americans be allowed to register to vote. Police officers responded with tear gas and smoke bombs. The same month, state troopers armed with billy clubs attacked African-Americans as they began a historic march in Selma, 35 miles north of Wilcox County High.

A few months later, the Voting Rights Act of 1965 opened the polls to African-Americans. The year after Mr. Sessions graduated, the Justice Department pried open the doors of Wilcox County schools for African-American students, winning a court judgment against a school board that had flatly declared that “desegregation is not good for education.”

By then, Mr. Sessions was a history major at Huntingdon College, a small, all-white Methodist school in Montgomery. He led the Young Republicans club — maybe a dozen students, including Mary Blackshear, whom he met on a hayride and married soon after graduation. “Even though we were in Montgomery at a time when so much was going on, it was like we were in a little bubble or something,” said Phebe Lee, a college friend and club member.

Mr. Sessions acknowledged as much in February, at a congressional ceremony honoring the Selma marchers. “As a child and a teenager, I saw evidence of discrimination every day,” he said. “Certainly, I feel I should have stepped forward more.”

Mr. Sessions co-sponsored legislation awarding Alabama’s civil rights marchers and Rosa Parks Congressional Gold Medals, but has expressed mixed views about the Justice Department’s enforcement of civil rights. In the mid-1980s, he called the Voting Rights Act, which prohibited racial discrimination at the polls, “an intrusive piece of legislation” and said that federal judges of that era “can be criticized legally for exceeding jurisdiction.”

Photo: Speaker Paul D. Ryan presenting a Congressional Gold Medal to Frederick Douglas Reese, at a ceremony in February honoring the Selma civil rights marchers. Mr. Sessions, far left, co-sponsored legislation awarding the marchers. Credit Manuel Balce Ceneta/Associated Press

On balance, he said the law was necessary, and he voted with every other member of the Senate in 2006 to extend its provisions for another 25 years. But in 2013, after the Supreme Court invalidated one of the act’s core provisions that required Justice Department approval to change election laws in places with histories of discrimination, he called it “good news, I think, for the South.”

Mr. Sessions has long accused the department of overstepping its authority by promoting minority rights that conservatives argue have no clear basis in law. “There is a perception, not altogether unjustified, that this department’s Civil Rights Division goes beyond fair and balanced treatment, but has an agenda,” Mr. Sessions said last year. “That’s been a troubling issue for a number of years, frankly.”

Critics fear such comments presage a rollback in civil rights enforcement. “Jeff Sessions is emblematic of too many white Southerners who learned very little from the civil rights movement, except how to be more creative in carrying out an anti-civil rights agenda,” said Allen Tullos, a history professor at Emory University.

Under President Obama, the Justice Department has threatened civil rights lawsuits to force police departments to change policies on the use of force, advocated gay rights and told local school districts to let transgender students use bathrooms that match their gender identity.

Advocates and career prosecutors see a shift in the department’s work on gay, lesbian and transgender issues as all but certain under Mr. Sessions. As Alabama’s attorney general in the mid-1990s, he defended a state law barring funding for gay student groups on state college campuses, arguing that their very existence encouraged violation of state sodomy laws. A federal appeals court disagreed, striking down the law as “blatant” discrimination. In the Senate, he voted against making it a federal hate crime to attack people based on their sexual orientation.

Mr. Sessions has also questioned the use of consent decrees — one of the Justice Department’s most powerful civil rights tools — as “an end run around the democratic process” and a dangerous exercise of raw government power. The Obama administration has relied on consent decrees, in which local governments agree to make new policies to avoid battling the federal government in court, to transform police training, improve conditions in prisons and change how officers make arrests and use force.
“I think you’ll see the Civil Rights Division go back to its more traditional role in terms of law enforcement,” said Larry Thompson, a former deputy attorney general and longtime friend of Mr. Sessions. “I don’t think he’s going to countenance a police officer shooting someone under color of law, but more than the current administration, he’ll make sure to stand up for law-abiding citizens when one of these unfortunate situations occur.”

Mr. Sessions’s last nomination to a federal post, a federal judgeship in 1986, foundered over questions by senators of both parties about his commitment to civil rights. Accounts of the nomination battle typically focus on testimony about a string of racially insensitive comments he was accused of making as a federal prosecutor. Those included statements — which he said were taken out of context but did not deny — that the N.A.A.C.P. and the American Civil Liberties Union were “un-American” groups that “do more harm than good.”

But perhaps most crucial to his rejection was his 1985 prosecution of three longtime black community activists on ballot-fixing charges. One was Albert Turner, an adviser to the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and one of the Selma marchers attacked by state troopers.

In 1984, Mr. Turner, his wife, Evelyn, and Spencer Hogue Jr. were working to elect a black candidate for local office over another African-American who, they believed, was in league with white politicians. A federal grand jury convened by Mr. Sessions’s office charged them with 29 criminal counts for allegedly altering about two dozen absentee ballots without the voters’ consent.

Photo: Albert Turner, left, with his wife, Evelyn, and Spencer Hogue Jr., and a redistricting map of Perry County, Ala. In 1984, a federal grand jury convened by Mr. Sessions’s office charged each of them with 29 criminal counts for allegedly altering about two dozen absentee ballots without the voters’ consent. They were acquitted.

The case became a cause célèbre among local African-Americans and among civil rights lawyers, who saw it as part of a broader effort by the Reagan administration’s Justice Department to intimidate black voters. At trial, the case collapsed; most voters testified that the defendants were trying to help them complete ballots, not fix them. A jury swiftly acquitted them.

Among other concerns, Senator Howell Heflin, an Alabama Democrat who sat on the Senate Judiciary Committee at the time, doubted that the case merited the full force of the federal government, Steve Raby, Mr. Heflin’s former chief of staff, said in an interview. Losing the support of a home-state senator proved fatal. It was only the second time in 48 years that a judicial nomination died in committee.

Mr. Sessions, who prides himself on methodical preparation, has said he was “a babe in the woods” before the committee. If so, he has learned his lesson: In recent weeks, a string of African-Americans, whom he has recruited, hired and promoted, have come forward to testify to his lack of racial animus.

Mr. Sessions is also mounting a vigorous effort to show that he stood up for civil rights as a federal prosecutor. He cites his successful pursuit of two Ku Klux Klan members who in 1981 brutally murdered a black teenager. “There were a lot of Southern United States attorneys who were not very welcoming to attorneys from the Civil Rights Division in the 1980s,” said Barry Kowalski, the Justice Department attorney on the case and a lifelong Democrat. “And he was.”

Mr. Sessions has also revised a list of the 10 most important cases that he “personally handled” as a prosecutor to include four voting rights and school desegregation cases, even though his involvement was minimal, former Justice Department lawyers said.

Mr. Sessions has stood behind the Perry County prosecution. And he still considers voter fraud a problem, though studies have consistently shown that it is extraordinarily rare.

Albert Turner died in 2000. His son and namesake, who is a Perry County commissioner, now defends Mr. Sessions. “He is not a racist,” he said in a statement. “I believe him when he says he was simply doing his job.”

His mother, Evelyn Turner, 80, does not. In February, at the congressional ceremony that honored her husband and other Selma marchers, the senator tried to hug her, she said. “But I said, ‘No, get off of me,’” she said. “I know he has not changed.”

Crime and Punishment


After he was elected senator, taking a seat on the same Judiciary Committee that denied him the judgeship, Mr. Sessions seemed to bear no grudge against those who had humiliated him in 1986. He collaborated with Senator Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts on a bill to reduce prison rape. He also worked with Democrats to correct sentencing disparities that resulted in harsher penalties for those convicted of crimes involving crack cocaine, who were predominately black, than those convicted of powder cocaine, who were more likely to be white.

But in general, he was viewed in the Senate as a bill killer, not a bill sponsor.

Photo: Mr. Sessions at the Capitol in June 2013. A frequent topic he would raise on the Senate floor was what he saw as the Obama administration’s leniency toward drug offenders. Credit Drew Angerer for The New York Times

“Preventing something bad from happening is just as important to him as getting something good done,” said Marcus Peacock, a former senior aide.

C-Span played endlessly in his office and, if something disagreeable caught his ear, he summoned staff members to help him craft an immediate response in pencil on a yellow legal pad. “Even if you had meetings, the assumption is you’d be there,” Mr. Peacock said. Then the senator was off to the Senate floor, often to speak to an empty room.

A frequent topic was what he saw as the Obama administration’s leniency toward drug offenders. Mr. Sessions served as a federal prosecutor in Mobile in the heyday of the nation’s war on drugs, a time when Congress passed lengthy mandatory minimum sentences for drug crimes and the prison population ballooned. He has proudly described himself as a lieutenant in the nation’s drug war.

Many politicians now regard that as a period of excessive punishments. The Obama administration — using clemency, discretion and more lenient sentencing laws — has undone many of that era’s policies and helped reduce the federal prison population for the first time in decades.

But Mr. Sessions believes those long prison sentences produced low crime rates. “It’s mathematics,” he has said: the more criminals in prison, the fewer on the street. When Mr. Obama likened marijuana to alcohol, Mr. Sessions was “heartbroken.” “This drug is dangerous,” he said last year, adding, “Good people don’t smoke marijuana.”

Liberals may chafe at such rigidity, but Mr. Sessions shares their disdain for the philosophy of “too big to jail” — the notion that prosecutors should consider whether bringing charges against large companies would imperil the economy. “This is a dangerous philosophy,” he said in 2010 amid Justice Department investigations into the banks at the heart of the financial meltdown. “Normally, I was taught, if they violated the law, you charge them. If they did not violate the law, you do not charge them.”

A Defining Issue

But no single topic energizes Mr. Sessions more than immigration. In 2013, when the Senate was considering a pathway to citizenship for immigrants, Mr. Sessions spent more time on the Senate floor than its top leaders, aides said. The issue has defined his Senate career and, along with trade, formed his link to Mr. Trump.

Soon after his arrival in Washington, Mr. Sessions had received a visit from Roy Beck, an author who had recently formed the group NumbersUSA to advocate reduced immigration. Mr. Beck arrived at Mr. Sessions’s fourth-floor Senate office building prepared to make a sales pitch.

Immigrants, here legally or illegally, he said, were taking jobs from American workers. Democrats, because of their Hispanic constituencies, were reluctant to address this, he said. And Republicans were too aligned with big corporations that benefited from immigrant labor. Mr. Beck figured that, as a former prosecutor, Mr. Sessions might be sympathetic at least to the idea that America’s immigration laws should be better enforced.

Photo: Mr. Sessions in December 2014, appearing with law enforcement officials from around the country to criticize President Obama’s immigration policies. The issue of immigration has defined his Senate career. Credit Stephen Crowley/The New York Times

Almost immediately, Mr. Sessions began finishing Mr. Beck’s sentences. He noted with dismay the transformation of Alabama’s poultry industry, which for years had provided jobs — grueling, punishing work, but jobs nonetheless — to even the poorest, least-educated workers. “He saw a work force that was maybe half white, half black become mostly foreign,” Mr. Beck recalled.

“This is what justice is about,” Mr. Sessions told him. “You don’t put your finger on the scale against the poor person who’s trying to make a living.”

Since then, Mr. Sessions has become the most reliable congressional ally of anti-immigration groups.

He supported a state law in Alabama that, among other things, required public schools to verify the immigration status of students and their parents and made it a crime for immigrants to not carry their legal papers. The goal was to make every aspect of life for illegal immigrants so unbearable that they would deport themselves. Federal courts ultimately gutted the law.

Mr. Sessions’s views have made him a target of critics who say he works too closely with people who have racist, xenophobic views. Several of the groups he has worked alongside were founded or nurtured by the activist John Tanton, who has described the anti-immigration fight in racial terms. “For European-American society and culture to persist requires a European-American majority,” Mr. Tanton once warned a friend.

In 2015, Mr. Sessions received the annual Keeper of the Flame award from the Center for Security Policy, a Washington think tank that promotes anti-Muslim conspiracy theories. Its founder, Frank Gaffney, has argued, among other things, that Mr. Obama is secretly a Muslim and that the crescent in the new logo of the Missile Defense Agency is a veiled sign that the United States has submitted to Islamic law.

Mr. Sessions has for years heard claims that his views are rooted in a fear of foreigners. He has steadfastly denied it. “It is not xenophobic but our patriotic duty to defend the integrity of our borders and the rule of law,” he said in 2014.

When business leaders said more foreign workers would help the economy, Mr. Sessions mocked them for playing “masters of the universe” from behind the high fences of their estates. His office was a font of research that he sometimes personally thrust into the hands of fellow senators.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, a traditional base of Republican support, strongly supported immigration legislation and went so far as to say that Republicans should not bother running a presidential candidate in 2016 if they did not pass it. “Gosh,” Mr. Beck said to Mr. Sessions. “How far can you go on this?”

“How many votes does the Chamber of Commerce have?” Mr. Sessions quipped.

When it became clear that, over his vehement objections, the Senate would pass an immigration bill in 2013, Mr. Sessions helped rally conservative House members to defeat the bill and make sure it would not become law.

As attorney general, Mr. Sessions would oversee the hiring of immigration judges and the operation of immigration courts. Though the Department of Homeland Security directly enforces immigration laws, the Justice Department is involved in helping set immigration legal policy and in prosecuting people who return to the country after being deported.

“Throughout the debate on comprehensive immigration reform, no one was more anti-immigrant than Jeff Sessions,” said Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic leader. “And for me that outweighs the fact that he is a colleague and someone that I have worked with well on other issues like trade.”

The Trump Campaign


For years, Mr. Sessions envisioned a day when the Republican Party would shed its big-business, country-club image and become a workers’ party. But his arguments gained little traction. In 2012, he believed, Mitt Romney handed Mr. Obama a second term by failing to appeal to voters earning less than $50,000. By 2015, Mr. Sessions was disillusioned and saw his party in disarray.

In a 23-page memo to his colleagues that January, Mr. Sessions said the road to capturing working-class voters was clear: The party, he wrote, had to show how lax immigration policies had stolen their jobs and erased their prospects for moving up the social ladder. “Republicans cannot win in 2016 without these voters,” he wrote, “and Republicans cannot win these voters unless they prove that they are willing to break from the donor class.”
When Mr. Trump announced his presidential bid six months later, Mr. Sessions saw a potential political mold-breaker. Within weeks of Mr. Trump’s campaign announcement, the two men talked by telephone about trade and immigration.
In a 90-minute meeting in the senator’s office in September 2015, Mr. Trump assured Mr. Sessions that he was in the race to win. The senator’s staff shared position papers and a top aide, Stephen Miller, joined the campaign.

When Mr. Sessions sent Republican candidates his questionnaire, every candidate except Mr. Trump ignored it.

“It wasn’t easy” to gain Mr. Sessions’s support, Mr. Trump said after winning his endorsement late last February, just before sweeping a string of Southern primaries. “I put in a lot of work on the subject matter.”

Nor was it easy for the senator. Longtime Republican allies called to express their fury. Others refused to take calls from his staff. An article in the conservative National Review branded him “a prostitute.”

Photo: The Republican National Convention in July of last year. Mr. Sessions had the idea of inviting people whose relatives were murdered by illegal immigrants, according to Rudolph W. Giuliani, who credits the senator with shaping Mr. Trump’s immigration views. Credit Alex Wong/Getty Images

But Mr. Sessions did not waver, even at the lowest points of Mr. Trump’s campaign. When Mr. Trump was denounced for his anti-immigration rhetoric, colleagues said, Mr. Sessions offered reassurance. He helped craft a crucial immigration speech and prepare for the presidential debates. It was the senator’s idea to bring to the Republican convention people whose family members had been murdered by illegal immigrants, according to Rudolph W. Giuliani, a campaign adviser who credits Mr. Sessions with shaping Mr. Trump’s immigration views.

A Crucial Test


For all that is known about Mr. Sessions, one thing that is unclear is how he will measure up to what he has declared to be a crucial test of an attorney general’s qualifications: the willingness to stand up to the president, who in this case plucked him from obscurity.

Critics point to his support for President George W. Bush’s warrantless wiretapping program and Justice Department memos authorizing waterboarding as signs that Mr. Sessions takes a broad view of presidential power.

But his supporters point to a track record of insisting on Justice Department oversight and independence. Mr. Sessions chastised the Obama administration for refusing to defend the Defense of Marriage Act, saying that senior Justice Department lawyers should have told the president that they insisted on doing so, as a matter of principle. Mr. Sessions also did not support Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch’s nomination because she stood behind Mr. Obama’s authority to enact immigration policy through executive orders, which he called an abuse of presidential authority.

The Justice Department can help the president achieve policy goals, he said, but must stand firm against overreaching.

“You’ve got to be prepared to say no,” he said in 2011.

“And if you do, politicians normally come around. You don’t have to do it publicly. You just tell him, ‘Mr. President, you cannot do that.’”

Now, as Mr. Trump embarks on a presidency in which he promises to remake Washington and dispense with many of its traditions, it will fall to Mr. Sessions to decide if and when to say no. And his reputation for standing up to the powers that be, consequences be damned, may face its stiffest test yet.

Emily Bazelon, Campbell Robertson and Matthew Rosenberg contributed reporting. Kitty Bennett and Jacqueline Williams contributed research.

Related Coverage:

Jeff Sessions, as Attorney General, Could Overhaul Department He’s Skewered 
November 18, 2016
Specter of Race Shadows Jeff Sessions, Potential Trump Nominee for Cabinet 

November 16, 2016
N.A.A.C.P. President Arrested for Sit-In at Jeff Sessions Office 

J 4, 2017


http://www.theglobeandmail.com/…/trigger-w…/article32816606/

A BLAST FROM THE VERY RECENT PAST...

Toronto Calling...

Trigger warning, Trump fans: This column calls racists ‘racists’

by Tabatha Southey
Special to The Globe and Mail
November 14, 2016 

 

PHOTO: Supporters cheer as they wait for President-elect Donald Trump to give his acceptance speech during his election night rally, Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2016, in New York. (Mary Altaffer/AP)


Oceans of ink have been spilled during this interminable election urging us to “try to understand” Donald Trump supporters. Journey to the Heart of Trumpland stories became their own genre during the campaign – one in which Trump rallies were mostly covered in reverent tones.

Even as election day neared, we were being told by pundits that the important work, that of learning to take Trump supporters’ concerns seriously, would come afterward. We must not forget them, we were cautioned, in a way we were not told we must always keep Mitt Romney or Al Gore supporters in our hearts.

I suspect we will not see a glut of similarly themed think pieces about Hillary Clinton voters this week, stories about how we really need to listen to pro-Hillary folks, feel their pain, make sure their needs are met before the next election.

A journalist’s pitch of “I Spent a Weekend With a Bunch of Hillary Supporters and It Turns Out They Love Their Children and Make a Good Blueberry Pie” was never going to be met with “Great! Give me 1,500 words.”

We were to understand that “real America” is found at a Trump rally. Those rallies were somehow more authentically American than, say, a Black Lives Matter protest, a college classroom, a gay pride parade, or even a state fair. A man shouting “Jew-S-A!” was to be taken as some kind of white working-class sphinx, asking us to solve the riddle of his true feelings.

That man’s life just had to be given enough context, apparently, and then his anti-Semitism and the raging sexism of the man shouting “Trump that bitch!” next to him, would become benign. Assign their anger a source – and never question the legitimacy of that emotion. Tell us one of these guys is behind on his car payments and the other loves curly fries and everything becomes alright.

Sadly, these things would not “humanize” a man to me any more than his chanting of “Jew-S-A!” would.

I do know that humans do awful things. I’ve read my history. Right now, it feels as if I’m rereading one of the more unfortunate bits. Well done, America. I can report that we in Canada are feeling a little Austria, 1933, right now.

Serving up oodles of think pieces and man-on-the-street interviews and rally safaris that illuminate the lives of the prejudiced without visiting the lives that these “racial attitudes” may affect goes beyond hack journalism and into irresponsible.

There has been a lot of that. Calling someone “working class” over and over while you click your camera clicks like rosary beads is not an Angelic Salutation that absolves your subjects of their sins.

That these people are adults who are accountable for their choices was largely taken as an unduly harsh sentiment in this election. But there is no parent’s note for bigotry. No teacher would accept “Little Timmy can’t help but hate Mexicans today because he had a dentist appointment.”

The media did very little to challenge the narrative that Donald Trump – a trust-fund baby turned real-estate mogul turned reality-TV star turned fraudulent-university huckster turned politician – is the working class’s hero. And that he is a hero that the people had a right to turn to and to not be criticized for doing so.

It was taken as given, but I kept reading it, that Trump supporters were a demographic compelled, by forces entirely beyond their control, to hate and fear Hispanics and Muslims.

To report that story convincingly you have to ignore the fact that Mr. Trump’s voters are relatively affluent. They have a median household income of $72,000 (U.S.), a full $10,000 above the average.

You also have to sweep a lot of lower-income, lower-skilled minorities (it’s striking how people of colour seldom get the romanticized label “working class” bestowed upon them) under the rug. The plights of these people are much less likely to be poignantly illuminated in the press than those of my fellow white folks.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Jury condemns Dylann Roof to death for Charleston, S.C., church shooting that killed 9

All,

REMEMBER: The same vicious society and culture that produced Dylann Roof also produced Jeff Sessions and the raving billionaire sociopath and neofascist who will enter the White House on January 20, 2017. WHAT DOES THIS TELL YOU ABOUT NOT ONLY WHERE WE ARE AND WHERE WE ARE GOING, BUT WHO AND WHAT IS RESPONSIBLE FOR IT?...

Kofi

BREAKING NEWS

A jury has sentenced Dylann Roof to die. The white supremacist showed no remorse for killing 9 at a black church in South Carolina.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

4:54 PM EST


The jury of nine whites and three blacks, who last month found Mr. Roof guilty of 33 counts for the attack at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in downtown Charleston, S.C., returned their unanimous verdict after a heart-rending and often legally confounding trial.

Read more »

http://www.latimes.com/…/la-na-charleston-roof-sentencing-2…

NATION

Jury condemns Dylann Roof to death for Charleston, S.C., church shooting that killed 9

by Jenny Jarvie
Reporting from Charleston, S.C.
January 10, 2017
Los Angeles Times



Dylann Roof's two death penalty trials
The 22-year-old man charged with killing nine black worshipers at the historic Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, S.C. faces two death penalty trials, a first in U.S. history.


The 22-year-old man charged with killing nine black worshipers at the historic Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, S.C. faces two death penalty trials, a first in U.S. history.

A federal jury on Tuesday condemned unrepentant white supremacist Dylann Roof to death for the June 2015 massacre of nine black parishioners at a South Carolina Bible study class.

Roof stood stone-faced, showing no emotion, as U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel announced the jury's unanimous verdict, which came after about three hours of deliberation.

Relatives and friends of the victims were quiet. Some left court smiling and embracing.

"Today we had justice for my sister," Melvin Graham, the brother of slain churchgoer Cynthia Hurd, said outside the courthouse. "This is a very hollow victory because my sister is still gone."

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Graham said the death penalty was fitting for Roof, who last month was convicted of the killings, because his act was so brutal and he showed no remorse.

"He just took them away from us because he wanted to," Graham said. "He decided the day, the hour, the moment that my sister was going to die. And now someone is going to do the same for him.... He's in God's hands now."

Before the jury of nine whites and three blacks began deliberating, Roof, who decided to represent himself during the sentencing phase of the trial, offered the panel no explanation or apologies for the shooting. He said only that he felt he had to do it.

In his last words to jurors before they decided whether to punish him with death or life in prison without parole, Roof said he was misunderstood. Yet he ultimately declined to give jurors any explanation for the massacre or a single reason to spare his life.

Roof acknowledged that he told FBI investigators after he was arrested that he had to do it. “But obviously that’s not really true,” he told the jury. “I didn’t have to do it. I didn’t have to do anything.… What I meant when I said that was that I felt that I had to do it, and I still do feel like I had to do it.

“Anyone, including the prosecution, who thinks that I’m filled with hatred has no idea what real hate is,” Roof said awkwardly, his face flushed as he read haltingly from notes. “They don’t know anything about me. They don’t know what real hatred looks like. They think they do, but they don’t really.”

9 people were killed in the Charleston church shooting: Who they were

Prosecutors, in turn, told jurors that Roof was a cold and calculated racist who dismissed a whole class of people as “brute animals” and continued to believe the shootings were worth it, even after hearing of the “immeasurable loss” of his victims’ loved ones.

“He wants you to believe that you have been misled and that indeed he was justified,” Assistant U.S. Atty. Julius “Jay” Richardson told the panel. “He wants you to believe he was justified in committing a modern-day lynching. Don’t let that be.… Render the full measure of justice for this defendant. Sentence this defendant to death.”

Last month, the same jurors found Roof guilty of all 33 charges against him, including multiple counts of committing a hate crime against black victims, obstructing the exercise of religion and using a firearm to commit murder.

On Tuesday, prosecutors provided the jury with a lengthy list of aggravating factors that they said justified the death penalty rather than life in prison.

Not only had Roof killed multiple victims and endangered others, Richardson said, but he also conducted substantial planning, was motivated by racial prejudice and hoped to incite others. Roof, the prosecutor said, showed “not one ounce of remorse.”

After the verdict, Roof’s family, which remained mostly silent since the shooting at the historical Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, issued a short statement.

“We will always love Dylann,” the statement said. “We will struggle as long as we live to understand why he committed this horrible attack, which caused so much pain to so many good people.”

Roof’s defense lawyers, who served as standby counsel during the sentencing phase of the trial, said in a statement that the decision to impose the death penalty meant the case would not be over for a long time.

“We are sorry that, despite our best efforts, the legal proceedings have shed so little light on the reasons for this tragedy," the defense statement said.

Gergel set Roof's formal sentencing for Wednesday morning. Roof, who has developed a tense relationship with his defense team, asked the judge whether he would appoint new lawyers to help file a request for a new trial.


Gergel told Roof, who faces a separate death penalty trial in state court, that he was "strongly disinclined" to appoint new attorneys but would listen to any motions Roof made Wednesday.
Anyone, including the prosecution, who thinks that I’m filled with hatred has no idea what real hate is. — Dylann Roof

In closing arguments, the trial’s lead prosecutor offered a window into each of the nine victims’ lives, showing jurors family photos of them at ballgames, weddings, vacations and graduations.

“You now know the last moments this last group of 12 spent together,” Richardson told the jury, reminding them the nine victims were among a dozen who had gathered together that muggy June evening to study the gospel of gospel of the Book of Mark’s Parable of the Sower. “You also now know how extraordinarily good these people were.

“They welcomed the defendant with a kind word, a Bible, a handout and a chair,” he said. Yet Roof “had come not to learn, not to receive the word.… He’d come with a hateful heart and a Glock.”

After showing images of Roof posing with a pistol and a Confederate flag, and engaged in target practice in his backyard, Richardson argued that the defense had failed to show any possibility that Roof was capable of any meaningful change or redemption.

“We may indeed wish it to be true, but there’s no evidence to support it,” Richardson said.

On Tuesday, Roof did not offer jurors any reason for forgiveness.

“From what I’ve been told, I have a right to ask for forgiveness on my sentence, but I’m not sure what good that will do anyway,” Roof told jurors before they deliberated. “But what I do know is that only one of you has to disagree with the other jurors.”

The 22-year-old high school dropout also addressed the jury at the beginning of the death penalty hearing last week — only to insist he was not mentally ill.

“Other than the fact that I trust people that I shouldn’t, there is nothing wrong with me psychologically,” he told the jury, referring to his attorneys’ attempts to present evidence of mental health problems.

At the beginning of the penalty phase of the trial, jurors learned that Roof had continued to show no remorse weeks after the crime.

“I would like to make it crystal clear I do not regret what I did,” Roof wrote in a journal found in his jail cell six weeks after his arrest. “I am not sorry. I have not shed a tear for the innocent people I killed.”

Roof added that he did feel sorry for the “innocent white children forced to live in this sick country” and “I have shed a tear of self-pity for myself. I feel pity that I had to do what I did in the first place.”

Usually during the sentencing phase of a death penalty case, the defense tries to mitigate the prosecution’s case by presenting evidence about background issues, such as childhood upbringing and mental health problems, in an effort to encourage jurors to be more lenient.

Yet from the beginning, Roof has resisted any idea of mounting a defense on the premise that he is mentally ill.

“I am morally opposed to psychology,” he scrawled in a journal that investigators found in his car after the massacre. “It is a Jewish invention, and does nothing but invent diseases and tell people they have problems when they don’t.”

In his statement to the jury Tuesday, as he spoke about how he felt the need to commit the killings, Roof said, “I think that it’s safe to say that no one in their right mind wants to go into a church and kill people.”

Over the last week, Roof declined to cross-examine any of the prosecution’s 25 witnesses or present any witnesses of his own. Yet he filed several motions last week objecting that the prosecutor’s victim impact testimony was excessive.

South Carolina killer Dylann Roof tells jurors: 'Nothing wrong with me psychologically'

Outside the courthouse, as Graham spoke of the loss of his sister, he said he hoped that Roof might at some point turn his life around and make a humble confession to God.

“When he gets there, he can join my sister and the other eight in heaven.… For God said, ‘I will forgive you. For no matter what you do, I will forgive you,’” he said.

Asked whether he had forgiven Roof, he paused.

“I’m a work in progress,” he said. “I think that, in time, that will come. I can’t live in hate.… But right now, no.”