Donald Trump’s choice for attorney general on Tuesday will become the first of his cabinet appointees to face a Senate confirmation hearing.
The expected hours-long grilling of Jeff Sessions, a conservative senator from Alabama and long-time Trump loyalist, will include tough questioning by Democrats about Sessions’ racial record and hardline stances on issues such as immigration.
Sessions, however, is a known quantity to his former Senate peers after 20 years in the upper chamber, including years on the Judiciary Committee that will host the two-day confirmation hearing.
He was Alabama’s attorney general from 1995-97 before being elected to the Senate. Sessions previously received Senate confirmation as US attorney for the Southern District of Alabama, a post he held from 1981-93 throughout the presidencies of Republicans Ronald Reagan and George HW Bush.
In 1986, Sessions was named to be a federal judge, but confirmation hearings raised multiple allegations of racially inflammatory statements. His appointment was blocked by a vote of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Sessions’ hearing is the first of nine Cabinet confirmation hearings this week, and along with hearings for secretary of state nominee Rex Tillerson and defence secretary nominee James Mattis among the most prominent.
A government ethics watchdog has questioned the rush of confirmation hearings before many of the candidates had been fully vetted for potential conflicts of interest, but Republicans have stressed the need to have many of posts filled to begin the Trump administration.
Trump’s nomination of retired general John Kelly to head the Department of Homeland Security is also scheduled for Tuesday.
Cabinet appointees require approval of the Senate.