Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III (born December 24, 1946) is an American politician and lawyer who served as the 84th United States attorney general from 2017 to 2018. A Republican, Sessions previously served as United States senator from Alabama from 1997 to 2017, resigning from the position in order to serve in the Trump administration.
From 1981 to 1993, he served as the United States attorney for the Southern District of Alabama. Sessions was nominated in 1986 to be a judge of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Alabama, but was not confirmed. Sessions was elected Attorney General of Alabama in 1994, and to the U.S. Senate in 1996, being re-elected in 2002, 2008, and 2014. During his time in Congress, Sessions was considered one of the most conservative members of the U.S. Senate.
Sessions was an early supporter of Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, and was nominated by Trump for the post of U.S. Attorney General. He was confirmed on February 8, 2017, with a 52–47 vote in the Senate, and was sworn in on February 9, 2017. In his Attorney General confirmation hearings, Sessions stated, while under oath, that he did not have contact with Russian officials during the 2016 presidential campaign and that he was unaware of any contacts between Trump campaign members and Russian officials. However, in March 2017, news reports revealed that Sessions had twice met with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak in 2016. Sessions subsequently recused himself from any investigations into Russian interference in the 2016 United States elections, while some Democratic lawmakers called for his resignation.
As U.S. attorney general, Sessions overturned a memo delivered by one of his predecessors, Eric Holder, that had sought to curb mass incarceration by avoiding mandatory sentencing, and ordered federal prosecutors to begin seeking the maximum criminal charges possible. Sessions signed an order adopting civil asset forfeiture, which allows law enforcement to seize the property of those suspected but not charged with crimes. A staunch opponent of illegal immigration, Sessions adopted a hard-line on so-called sanctuary cities and told reporters that cities failing to comply with federal immigration policy would lose federal funding; Trump issued an executive order revoking the funding from the cities, but it was successfully challenged by San Francisco and forbidden from enforcement by a federal judge. As Attorney General, Sessions supported allowing the Department of Justice to prosecute providers of medical marijuana.On November 7, 2018, the day after the midterm elections, Sessions tendered his resignation at Trump’s request, following a months-long public and private contention between Trump and Sessions over his recusal. In October 2019, Sessions began exploring a potential candidacy for his old Senate seat in the 2020 election. He announced his Senate run in November 2019.