Donald Trump‘s team announced Friday that the president-elect has offered Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions the job of attorney general.
Sessions, who was one of the first members of Congress to endorse Trump in February, chaired Trump’s national security advisory committee and has also advised the now president-elect on some of his biggest campaign decisions and proposals, including his immigration policy and his vice president pick, The Washington Post reports.
Like Trump’s other cabinet picks so far — Mike Pompeo as CIA director and retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn as security advisor — Sessions is a controversial figure. Here are five key things to know about him:
Sessions’ former colleagues testified that he had called the N.A.A.C.P. and other civil rights groups “un-American” and “Communist-inspired.” They also said Sessions had joked about the Ku Klux Klan, saying he thought it was “okay, until he learned its members smoked marijuana.”
Sessions did not specifically deny any of the allegations at the time, but said he had been quoted out of context, according to The Washington Post. He told the committee (of which he is now a member), “I am not the Jeff Sessions my detractors have tried to create. I am not a racist. I am not insensitive to blacks.”
2. Sessions once called the Voting Rights Act a “piece of intrusive legislation”
During the 1986 hearings, Sessions did admit that he had referred to the Voting Rights Act to prohibit racial discrimination in voting as a “piece of intrusive legislation.”
3. He has fought both illegal and legal immigration
Like Trump, Sessions takes a hard stance on immigration. During his 20 years in the Senate, Sessions has opposed almost every immigration bill that included a path to citizenship for immigrants living in the U.S. illegally, according to the Post.
He’s also spoken out against legal immigration, calling it “the primary source of low-wage immigration into the United States” in a 2015 Washington Post op-ed. “What we need now is immigration moderation,” he wrote, “slowing the pace of new arrivals so that wages can rise, welfare rolls can shrink and the forces of assimilation can knit us all more closely together.”
4. He opposed the Supreme Court’s 2015 ruling legalizing same-sex marriage nationwide
He wrote in a news release at the time: “When a society begins to strike its shared faith and traditions from every place of respect, a new faith always takes its place. Where the family is not the center of American life, government is. Today’s ruling is part of a continuing effort to secularize, by force and intimidation, a society that would not exist but for the faith which inspired people to sail across unknown waters and trek across unknown frontiers.”
5. He’s a climate change skeptic
During a 2015 Senate hearing for EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, Sessions claimed, “Carbon pollution is CO2, and that’s really not a pollutant; that’s a plant food, and it doesn’t harm anybody except that it might include temperature increases.”