Attorney General Jeff Sessions insisted at a Senate hearing Tuesday that there are “black identity extremists” who have turned violent but couldn’t think of any violence by white identity groups.
Democratic California Rep. Karen Bass grilled Sessions at Tuesday’s Senate Judiciary Committee hearing about an FBI report titled, “Black Identity Extremists Likely Motivated to Target Law Enforcement.”
“Who had the power in your department to order a report like this?” Bass asked Sessions.
“I don’t believe I approved it or directed it,” Sessions replied.
“Can you tell me what it means to you?” Bass asked. “Do you believe there is a movement of African-Americans that identify themselves as black identity extremists and what does that movement do?”
Sessions easily answered the question, saying there are “groups that do have an extraordinary commitment to their racial identity and some have transformed themselves even into violent activists.”
“You aware of white organizations that do this as well? Given the movements such as the neo-Nazis, are they white?” Bass asked, before asking Sessions if there are any similar reports on “white identity extremists.”
Sessions turned visibly perplexed.
“Yes,” he finally admitted after a long pause, “but it’s not coming to be at the moment.”
“Not coming to you? Certainly a group such as the Ku Klux Klan,” she said.
Sessions admitted that the KKK is violent but when asked if the FBI had a similar report on them, the attorney general replied, “I’m not aware of that.”
“Can you name an African-American organization that has committed violence against police officers?” Bass pressed. “Can you name one today that targeted police officers in a violent manner?”
“I believe I could, but I would want to confirm that and submit it to you in writing,” Sessions said. “I believe we had within the last year or so four police officers killed by a group that some have described as extremists.
“So, what happened is there have been a couple of instances in which African-Americans did kill police officers but were not associated with a black organization,” Bass continued. “One, for example, in Baton Rouge, was associated with Sovereign Citizens, which is primarily a white group. There is a lot of concern in the community from organizations such as Black Lives Matter. By the way, would you consider a Black Lives Matter an extremist group?”
Sessions’ answer was telling, especially after downplaying the rising violence by white supremacist groups in the United States.
“I’m not able to comment on that,” Sessions said. “I have not so declared it.”
Bass called out Sessions for targeting black protesters, cautioning against returning to a “very sad chapter” of American history.
“You should know that a lot of activists around the country are concerned that we are getting ready to repeat a very sad chapter where people rightfully protesting what they perceive as injustice as a relationship with police officers are being targeted and labeled as extremists and going through periods of surveillance and harassment,” Bass said.
Watch the exchange below: