Speed Reads

not a good time to laugh

Democratic congresswoman grills Jeff Sessions over FBI report on 'black identity extremists'

During his testimony Tuesday before the House Judiciary Committee, Attorney General Jeff Sessions was grilled by Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif.) over an FBI report regarding "black identity extremists." Sessions told Bass that he had not read the report, which claimed that so-called black identity extremists had responded to "perceptions of police brutality against African-Americans" with "an increase in premeditated, retaliatory lethal violence against law enforcement."

Sessions did say, however, that he was aware of some groups who had "an extraordinary commitment to their racial identity" and had "transformed themselves even into violent activists." In response, Bass asked the attorney general if he was aware of any similar organizations that could be identified as "white identity extremists." Sessions replied, "I didn't follow that question." He added with a slight chuckle: "It's not coming to me at this moment.”

In the 1980s, Sessions allegedly joked to colleagues that he thought the Ku Klux Klan was "okay — until I found out they smoked pot." Sessions eventually conceded to Bass that he was aware of the Klan and "the skinhead movement," but said that the FBI hadn't published any recent report on white identity groups that target law enforcement officers.

With her final question, Bass asked if Sessions would "essentially roll back" the report on black identity extremists. Sessions, after a long pause, said that he "actually would be interested in reading" the document before adding, "but they usually do an excellent job — objective and fair on those kinds of reports." Watch the whole exchange below. Kelly O'Meara Morales