(CNSNews.com) - Condoleezza Rice, who served as the nation's first female African-American Secretary of State and National Security Advisor under President George W. Bush, "strongly supports" Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) as the next U.S. attorney general.
Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, told the committee at the start of Sessions' confirmation hearing: "I would note that the committee received a letter from former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, indicating that she had hoped to join our colleagues in introducing the senator.
"She strongly supports his nomination. It's a powerful letter, and I hope my colleagues will take time to read it," Grassley said, introducing it into the record.
In the letter, obtained by CNN and quoted by other news outlets, Rice called Sessions a friend. “I know that Sen. Sessions will uphold the laws of our great country and will work to ensure that every person here in the United States is given the voice that is deserved.”
Rice, who is also from Alabama, said that Sessions helped to stop "prejudice and injustice against the descendants of slaves” in that state.
"He is a man who is committed to justice and knows that law and order are necessary to guarantee freedom and liberty," Rice wrote. "I know that Sen. Sessions will uphold the laws of our great country and will work to ensure that every person here in the United States is given the voice that is deserved.”
Rice was eight years old in segregated Birmingham, Ala., when four little girls in that city, one of them Rice's friend, were killed in the 1963 bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church.
Rice has called it a "very sad and terrifying day," and as she wrote in her memoir, "[I]f you were a child in Birmingham, you knew then that this was not a safe place."