The world is watching as President-elect Donald Trump makes appointments for his Cabinet. Many Americans fear what a Trump presidency will bring, as demonstrated through the nationwide protests and marches happening on the streets since Trump won the election last week. And for those concerned about the increase of reported hate-fueled attacks against Muslims, black people, and other people of color and marginalized groups, his Cabinet picks have only caused more concerns. According to officials close to Trump's transition team, the president-elect has selected Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions for attorney general, The New York Times reported. The Alabama senator was the first to back Trump earlier in his campaign. But Sessions' quotes about women, and his history with race, has many exceptionally concerned.
When The Washington Post leaked a 2005 recorded conversation between Trump and then-host of Access Hollywood Billy Bush, many people were outraged by Trump's disturbing remarks about women and his alleged interactions with them. In the recorded conversation, Trump can be heard boasting to Bush about his ability to grab women "by the p*ssy" on his own accord, since he's "a star" who "can do anything." Trump denied he was describing sexual assault, and chalked up the conversation to "locker room banter" – an explanation many others backed, including Sessions.
The Department of Justice defines sexual assault as the following:
Sexual assault is any type of sexual contact or behavior that occurs without the explicit consent of the recipient. Falling under the definition of sexual assault are sexual activities as forced sexual intercourse, forcible sodomy, child molestation, incest, fondling, and attempted rape.
As Mic reported last month, in an October interview with the Weekly Standard, Sen. Sessions stood up for Trump, saying his 2005 recorded conversation did not describe sexual assault. He said, "This was very improper language, and he's acknowledged that." He also noted, "I don't characterize that as sexual assault. I think that's a stretch. I don't know what he meant—"
When Sessions was asked if grabbing women by the genitals is sexual assault, he replied saying, "It's not clear."
"I don't know," he said, according to the Standard. "It's not clear that he — how that would occur."
After Sessions' comments to the Standard made their rounds, he later insisted that his comments were "mischaracterized." He sent the following statement to the Huffington Post last month:
The Weekly Standard’s characterization of comments I made following Sunday’s Presidential debate is completely inaccurate... My hesitation was based solely on confusion of the contents of the 2005 tape and the hypothetical posed by the reporter, which was asked in a chaotic post-debate environment...
...I regret that it resulted in an inaccurate article that misrepresented my views...Of course it is crystal clear that assault is unacceptable. I would never intentionally suggest otherwise.
But Sessions has continued to support Trump, and his supposed "confusion of the contents" in the tape likely does little to ease the mind of advocates against sexual assault, and especially victims of sexual assault.
And as far as his other stances on issues go, as ABC News reported, he's also anti-abortion, and opposed to marriage equality. What's more, Sessions has had an outright troubling history with racism. His nomination to become a federal judge in 1986 was rejected because of alleged racially-charged comments. (Sessions' office hasn't responded to Romper's request for comment regarding those allegations.) Former colleagues of Sessions have alleged he's made racist comments, like calling a black federal prosecutor "boy" and saying the Ku Klux Klan was fine until he learned some of the members "smoked pot," – to name a few.
The outrage and concern from the Democratic Party and the left continues.