Sen. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut confronted Sen. Jeff Sessions, President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee to be attorney general, during his confirmation hearing today about the Alabama Republican’s association with a number of extremist organizations, including the David Horowitz Freedom Center, the Center for Security Policy and the Federation for American Immigration Reform.
Sessions declined to disavow these organizations or return the awards he received from them, but his exchange with Blumenthal about the David Horowitz Freedom Center and its founder, David Horowitz, was particularly illuminating.
After Blumenthal read him a number of quotes from Horowitz, Sessions responded that he “didn’t know David Horowitz had made those comments” and that he had been impressed by Horowitz’s “brilliant book” “Radical Son.”
“He’s a most brilliant individual and has a remarkable story,” Sessions said. “I’m not aware of everything he’s ever said or done.”
Blumenthal reminded him that Horowitz’s comments have been “reported publicly and repeatedly over many years” and asked if, when he received an award from Horowitz and publicly praised him in 2014, he had been “unaware of any of the apparently racist comments that he made.”
“I’m not aware of those comments,” Sessions said, “and I don’t believe David Horowitz is a racist or a person that would treat anyone improperly, at least to my knowledge.”
Blumenthal wasn’t cherry-picking a few quotes from Horowitz. Instead, he was illustrating what has been the gist of Horowitz’s public advocacy for years. As we wrote recently:
Sessions’ ongoing connection with Horowitz is troubling, to say the least. Horowitz is a California-based activist who publishes the conservative FrontPage magazine and runs the David Horowitz Freedom Center. He also provides a platform for anti-Muslim activist Robert Spencer’s Jihad Watch website.
Horowitz uses these platforms to promote anti-Muslim bigotry; he has claimed that “all Muslim associations are fronts for the Muslim Brotherhood” and promoted smears against Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin.
Just a few months before Sessions accepted an award from Horowitz in 2014, Horowitz called Nancy Pelosi a “Jew-hating bitch” on Twitter. Earlier this year, Horowitz lashed out at anti-Trump conservative Bill Kristol in a Breitbart article that labeled Kristol a “renegade Jew.”
Horowitz has for years criticized civil rights leaders and lashed out against what he calls “black racism,” notably in his 1999 book “Hating Whitey.” Horowitz hasn’t let up on that refrain, for instance saying in a radio interview last year that President Obama is “racist” because he won’t recognize that it was “white Christian males” who ended slavery. Just a few weeks ago, Horowitz told a radio interviewer that the “racism in this country that is the real problem is black racism” and “certainly not white people.”
Just last week, the David Horowitz Freedom Center named Trump strategist Steve Bannon, infamous for his embrace of the white nationalist Alt-Right, as its “Man of the Year.”
These are just the lowlights. You can find plenty more in our archives on Horowitz. This is the “brilliant individual” whom Sessions decided to defend in his Senate confirmation hearing.