(CNSNews.com) -- William Smith, who was the first African American to serve as chief counsel for the Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee, says that the campaign that Democrats have launched to stop the confirmation of Sen. Jeff Sessions (R.-Ala.) to serve as attorney general--because of his alleged racial insensitivity--is a "big charade" designed to divert public attention from their policy differences with him.
On Wednesday, Senate Assistant Minority Leader Dick Durbin (D-IL) told reporters that “elements” in Sessions’ background “raise questions” about whether he should be confirmed as attorney general.
But William Smith, who was hired by then-ranking member Sessions as his chief counsel on the Senate Judiciary Committee and who is currently chief of staff for Rep. Gary Palmer (R-AL), says that he has never witnessed any examples of racist behavior by Sessions during the two decades he has worked with him.
“Even the Democrats know that – this is all a big charade because they object to Sen. Session’s policy views and don’t want to debate the issues in public,” Smith told CNSNews.com. “They are afraid he might actually take the politicalization out of the Department of Justice and actually enforce the laws on the books, such as the immigration and marijuana laws.”
Smith called Sessions “an outstanding senator and an even better person. He’s a very kind man with high character and high integrity who is very generous with his time and caring with his staff.”
Although the former Senate committee staffer believes that Sessions will be confirmed, he predicted that the confirmation hearings, which are scheduled for next week, with not be a “sail-through process”.
“If the Democrats had any chance [of blocking his nomination] it was before they blew up the process with the nuclear option,” Smith told CNSNews. “But the Democrats are bound and determined to smear and weaken him so that when he does things at the Department of Justice they don’t like, they can say: ‘See, we warned you’.”
Sessions voted to extend the Voting Rights Act in 2006 and to confirm President Obama’s choice of Eric Holder as attorney general, stating that he was convinced Holder would be “a responsible legal officer and not a politician”.
While attorney general of Alabama, he oversaw the execution of Ku Klux Klan leader Henry Francis Hays for abducting and killing a black teenager.
But Democrats are pointing to the Senate Judiciary Committee’s rejection of his nomination to the federal bench by President Ronald Reagan in 1986 over allegations that he made racially insensitive remarks while serving as a U.S. attorney in Alabama as evidence that he is unfit for the job.
Sessions denied the allegations, calling them “false charges using distortions of anything that I did.”