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Jeff Sessions sworn in as attorney general

By Doug G. Ware and Ed Adamczyk
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Jeff Sessions sworn in as attorney general
Jeff Sessions (L) is sworn in as attorney general by Vice President Mike Pence (R) as President Donald Trump and Mary Sessions watches, during a ceremony in the Oval Office at the White House on Thursday. Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo

Feb. 8 (UPI) -- Jeff B. Sessions was sworn in as Attorney General on Thursday in a brief White House ceremony.

Vice President Mike Pence officiated at the ceremony attended by President Donald Trump and Sessions' wife, Mary.

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The Senate voted 52-47 to approve Sen. Sessions, R-Ala., on Wednesday as the 84th attorney general of the United States, bringing an end to what had been one of Trump's most disputed Cabinet appointments.

One senator voted only "present." With 100 members in the upper chamber, the Alabama senator needed 51 votes to win confirmation.

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"The Senate just confirmed Sen. Sessions as our attorney general," Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., tweeted after the vote. "POTUS made an excellent choice, and our nation will be better for it."

Many Democrats opposed Sessions' nomination, partly due to accusations of racism earlier in his career.

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., said before he voted "nay" on Sessions' nomination that he's "not confident as [attorney general] he'll be able to stand up to the pressure we can expect this White House to bring."

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West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin was the lone Democrat to vote for Sessions.

Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Ct., holds a thumb hard drive containing one million petitions to reject the attorney general nomination of Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions on Capitol Hill on Tuesday. More than a dozen civil and human rights groups collected the petitions because of what they called Sessions' past racial insensitivity. Sessions was confirmed by the Senate, 52-47, on Wednesday night. Photo by Mike Theiler/UPI

Sessions takes over the role of attorney general from Loretta E. Lynch, who was former President Barack Obama's Justice Department chief for two years. He replaces Dana J. Boente, who was named acting attorney general late last month pending Sessions' confirmation.

Sessions, 70, served as a U.S. attorney under former President Ronald Reagan and later as Alabama attorney general from 1995 to 1997. He has served in the Senate for the past 20 years.

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In 1986, Sessions was denied a federal judgeship over concerns about his civil rights views, which some claimed included a desire to suppress black voters. Coretta Scott King, widow of civil rights icon Martin Luther King, Jr., appealed to the Senate at the time, in a letter, to reject his nomination.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., said earlier Wednesday that the words in the letter are still relevant, 30 years later.

"Mrs. King's words about Sessions should be heard," she said.

Warren was silenced in the Senate by Republicans when she attempted to read the letter, touching off a frenzy of Democratic support on social media.

Sessions is the first Alabamian to serve as U.S. attorney general. In the post, he stands seventh in the presidential line of succession -- behind the vice president, House speaker, president pro tempore of the Senate, secretary of state, secretary of the treasury and the secretary of defense.

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