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Members of the Senate Judiciary Committee already appear split on whether Sen. Jeff Sessions’ nomination to attorney general, which is expected to win confirmaton, will sail through without any controversy or hit a few bumps along the way.

Within an hour of President-elect Trump’s decision to tap the Alabama Republican to head the Justice Department, a number of GOP senators, including Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, applauded the move.

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, in a statement called Sessions an “exemplary” senator who would make an “exceptional” attorney general.

“Sen. Jeff Sessions’ nomination as attorney general is great news for all of us who revere the Constitution and the rule of law,” said Cruz, whose name also circulated as a possible contender for the post, as well as a candidate to fill the Supreme Court vacancy.



“I have been honored to work with Sen. Sessions on many of our nation’s most important issues over the last four years,” Cruz, a member of the Judiciary Committee, said. “Sen. Sessions has had an extraordinary career in government and law enforcement.”

Republicans hold a majority of seats on the Judiciary Committee, so they could easily approve Sessions’ nomination without Democratic votes.

Democrats, however, signaled that they won’t give Sessions a pass and expect to grill him as they would any nominee with a conservative reputation.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., the ranking member of the judiciary panel, said the attorney general must be prepared to tell the president “no.”

“The Justice Department has the awesome responsibility of upholding the country’s laws and protecting Americans, and the attorney general sets the tone for the entire agency. That’s why this position is so important and deserves such intense scrutiny,” Feinstein said.

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“The attorney general should be above the political fray — our laws absolutely must apply equally to all Americans if we’re to have confidence in them,” she added, noting that the Justice Department oversees immigration judges weighing cases for immigration asylum and what interrogation techniques are permissible.

“Finally, the attorney general is the lawyer for the people, not the president. His or her primary loyalty must be to the Constitution and the rule of law — and sometimes that means telling the president ‘no.'”

Although Sessions often takes far-right positions on immigration that upset his Democratic colleagues and believes that waterboarding shouldn’t be considered torture, he is a respected member of the Senate and his confirmation is all but assured after Republican senators retained the majority.

Democrats changed the filibuster rules in 2013 to allow confirmation of a president’s nominations by a simple majority vote for all but Supreme Court picks.

But Democrats will undoubtedly dig into Sessions’ past, including the racist allegations that cost him a Senate confirmation for a federal judgeship in the 1980s.

Trump staff reveals first four 'landing teams' of experts

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President-elect Trump’s transition staff revealed on Friday the people who will comprise the four “landing teams” that have begun to facilitate changes at key federal agencies.

Those teams, which have respectively “landed” at the State Department, Justice Department, Pentagon and National Security Council, are made up mostly of area experts. Vice President-elect Mike Pence told reporters inside Trump Tower that the teams arrived in Washington Friday morning.

Trump’s staff disclosed the current employer of each transition team member as well as how each is being paid, a move consistent with Trump’s promise to offer more transparency than the current administration.

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Sessions has the ultimate redemption story. After his failed nomination, he won a Senate campaign and was seated alongside the very Democratic senators who helped sink his judgeship, including then-Sen. Joe Biden, D-Del., and the late Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass.

Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., who also sits on the judiciary panel that will hold confirmation hearings for Sessions, was far more circumspect about the Sessions nomination.

“Although a respected colleague, Sen. Sessions deserves and no doubt expects the same exacting, serious scrutiny that any other attorney general nominee would receive,” he said.

Blumenthal, a former state attorney general, said the role as the nation’s highest law enforcer has control over a “panoply of powers — over individual rights and liberties, national security, criminal justice, environment and many others.”

“Seeking a public trust of profound importance, an appointee should have unquestionable integrity and ability, an unshakable respect for the Constitution and a record of professional and ethical excellence,” he said. “Sen. Sessions will be held to his high standard. I’m sure he expects no less.”

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