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Trump's top prosecutor dismisses KKK claims

11 January 2017

President-elect Donald Trump's pick to be the new Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, has been sworn in, but had a tough time, being forced to deny having far-right views.

A Democratic senator expressed "deep concern" about the Alabama Republican's nomination.

RNZ News reports Dianne Feinstein voiced her concern over "fear in this country, particularly among the African-American community".

She noted Mr Sessions had voted against an amendment affirming that the US would not bar people entering the US on the basis of their religion.

She also pointed out he had previously opposed efforts to ban waterboarding and expressed scepticism about the need for an anti-hate crime law.

The Attorney General, America's top prosecutor, leads the US justice department and acts as the main adviser to the president on legal issues.

Protesters repeatedly disrupted the hearing, including a couple dressed in Ku Klux Klan white robes who chanted: "No Trump, No KKK, No Racist USA."

Democrats do not have the power in the chamber to block his confirmation.

Mr Sessions, 69, said during testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee that allegations he once supported the KKK were "damnably false".

"I abhor the Klan and what it represents and its hateful ideology.”

Mr Sessions also acknowledged "the horrendous impact that relentless and systemic discrimination and the denial of voting rights has had on our African-American brothers and sisters".

Mr Sessions accepted that same-sex marriage and the legal right to abortion were the law of the land, and that he does not support the "idea that Muslims as a religious group should be denied admission to the United States. We have great Muslim citizens"

The Alabama politician was denied a federal judgeship in 1986 after the Senate Judiciary Committee heard testimony that he made racist remarks.

Mr Sessions also rejected claims today that he once called the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People "un-American".

But Republicans who have known him a long time and worked with him deny Mr Sessions is a racist.

Some have pointed out he supported the award of a Congressional Gold Medal to civil rights heroine Rosa Parks.

Last updated on the 11th January 2017