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The son of a prominent black civil rights activist that Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., prosecuted on allegations of voter fraud is breaking with other family members to endorse his nomination to be attorney general.

Albert Turner, Jr., the son of a farmer who became Martin Luther King, Jr.’s field director in Alabama and one of his closest associates, issued a statement Wednesday backing his selection to serve as the nation’s top law enforcement officer.

“I believe he will be fair in his application of the law and the Constitution; as such I support his nomination to be the next Attorney General of the United States,” Turner said in a lengthy statement.

Turner, who serves as county commissioner in Alabama in the seat his father held before his death in 2000, sought to debunk the racist charges against Sessions that sunk his nomination to a federal judgeship in 1986. Those charges have resurfaced after President-elect Trump nominated him to serve as attorney general.

“I have known Senator Sessions for many years, beginning with the voter fraud case in Perry County in which my parents were defendants,” he said. “My differences in policy and ideology with him do not translate to personal malice. He is not a racist.”

“As I have said before, at no time then or now has Jeff Sessions said anything derogatory about my family,” he continued. “He was a prosecutor at the federal level with a job to do. He was presented with evidence by a local district attorney that he relied on, and his office presented the case. That’s what a prosecutor does.”

“I believe him when he says that he was simply doing his job,” he added.

Sessions, while serving as a U.S. attorney in Alabama in 1985, charged both of Turner’s parents and another civil rights activist with tampering with absentee ballots cast by mostly elderly black voters to favor the activists’ preferred candidates in a campaign where both leading contenders were black.

Sessions lost the case after a jury of seven blacks and five whites found the defendants not guilty on all charges, according to a report in the Washington Post.

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That case and other allegations of racism against Sessions took center stage during a Senate hearing a year later for Sessions’ nomination to be a federal judge. The Senate Judiciary Committee voted down his nomination.

Sessions went on to win election to the Senate and served on the Judiciary Committee alongside then-Sens. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., and Joe Biden, D-Del., both of whom vocally opposed his nomination to the federal judgeship.

The Sessions’ nomination has split the Turner family.

Despite Turner, Jr.’s statement, his mother, Evelyn Turner, now 80, and his father’s younger brother, Robert Turner, 65, both have spoken out recently opposing Sessions’ nomination to be attorney general.

Evelyn Turner told the Washington Post in late December that the 1986 voter fraud trial was “nerve-racking” because she thought she and her husband were going to jail and defended her husband’s actions that led to the case.

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Republicans are working on a “two-track approach” to ensure people don’t immediately lose their coverage once Obamacare is repealed, Vice President-elect Mike Pence said Wednesday.

One track is for Congress to repeal much of the Affordable Care Act using the budget reconciliation process. The other is for Trump to unravel parts of the law using his executive authority.

“We’re working out right now with the the House staff and in concert with legislative leadership a two-track approach to ensuring it is an orderly transition as the president-elect has directed,” Pence said after a Wednesday morning meeting with the House Republican Conference.

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Robert Turner, a lawyer in Marion who was part of his brother’s defense team fighting the voter fraud charges in 1985, told the paper that he is convinced that Sessions wanted to use the high-profile voter fraud case to send a message to the civil rights movement.

“You got a person like Albert Turner that’s out front, spearheading all these voter registration drives, why not put him in jail and see how many people get scared?” he said.

The full statement is below:

Statement by Perry County Commissioner Albert F. Turner, Jr.
“A lot has been said about Senator Jeff Sessions and his record on issues related to race – some of it distorted and unfair. Some of these statements have included references to matters with which I have a very personal connection. My family and I have literally been on the front line of the fight for civil rights my whole life. And while I respect the deeply held positions of other civil rights advocates who oppose Senator Sessions, I believe it is important for me to speak out with regard to Senator Sessions personally.
“First, let me be clear: Senator Sessions and I respectfully disagree on some issues. That won’t change when he is the Attorney General of the United States. And I expect that there will be times as it is with all politicians when we will legitimately disagree and I will be required by my conscience to speak out. I look forward to those constructive debates if necessary. However, despite our political differences, the Senator and I share certain Alabama and American values, including a love for our State, its people and our Country.
“I have known Senator Sessions for many years, beginning with the voter fraud case in Perry County in which my parents were defendants. My differences in policy and ideology with him do not translate to personal malice. He is not a racist. As I have said before, at no time then or now has Jeff Sessions said anything derogatory about my family. He was a prosecutor at the Federal level with a job to do. He was presented with evidence by a local District Attorney that he relied on, and his office presented the case. That’s what a prosecutor does. I believe him when he says that he was simply doing his job.
“I believe that he is someone with whom I, and others in the civil rights community can work if given the opportunity. I believe that he will listen, as he has in the past, to the concerns of my community. More than most I am very familiar with him. I believe he will be fair in his application of the law and the Constitution; as such I support his nomination to be the next Attorney General of the United States.
“I encourage the civil rights community to engage in constructive dialogue with Senator Sessions concerning the protection of voting rights for African Americans and other minorities, gun control, senseless killings and strengthening Constitutional protections for all Americans. I stand ready to work with Senator Sessions as he becomes our Country’s Attorney General, and offer to him my willingness to help him in any way I might be of service.”
Sincerely,
Albert F. Turner

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