Politics & Government

McMaster praises Trump’s AG choice, Clyburn critical


S.C. Lt. Gov. Henry McMaster praised President-elect Donald Trump’s nomination Friday of U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., as U.S. attorney general.

Earlier this week, McMaster said he was under consideration for attorney general in Trump’s incoming administration. However, that job went to Sessions, R-Ala., who like McMaster was an early ally of Trump’s in the presidential campaign.

The lieutenant governor called Sessions, who was a U.S. attorney at the same time as McMaster in the 1980s, “a great choice.”

While Trump's transition team approached McMaster about the attorney general’s post, the lieutenant governor has said he would prefer to stay in South Carolina, where he plans to run for governor in 2018.

The lone Democrat in the state’s congressional delegation, however, was much more critical, citing Sessions’s “appalling” civil rights record that once prevented Sessions from earning a federal judgeship, and compared him to Trump’s controversial advisor Steve Bannon, who has been tied to white nationalists.

“Together the Bannon appointment and nomination of Senator Sessions for Attorney General represent a frightening return to a dark and dangerous past for minority communities in Donald Trump’s America,” Clyburn said in a statement. “They threaten the civil rights progress we’ve made and are significant roadblocks to healing the racial divisions laid bare by the recent election.”

U.S. Rep. Trey Gowdy of Spartanburg also had been speculated to be a candidate for attorney general.

McMaster could benefit yet from the assembling of a new Trump Administration. S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley interviewed Thursday with Trump about a post in his administration, reportedly either as secretary of state or secretary of commerce.

If Haley gets a job with Trump, McMaster would become S.C. governor.

U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham also praised the choice of Sessions, a Senate colleague.

“Senator Sessions is a fine, decent man and principled conservative. I’ve known him for more than 20 years,” Graham said in a statement. “He has the experience and ability to serve as attorney general of the United States. He was an early supporter of Donald Trump in the Senate and he has earned the right to serve President-Elect Trump and our nation at the highest level.”

The nomination of Sessions was panned by Democrats.

“Sen. Sessions has faced serious allegations throughout his career and was rightly rejected for a federal judgeship because of them,” said U.S. Rep. James Clyburn, D-Columbia. “His civil rights record is appalling and should disqualify him from Senate confirmation.

“Together, the (Steve) Bannon appointment (as Trump’s White House strategist) and nomination of Sen. Sessions for attorney general represent a frightening return to a dark and dangerous past for minority communities in Donald Trump’s America.”