WASHINGTON -- Sen. Jeff Sessions confronted one of the biggest criticisms surrounding his nomination to become the next attorney general, insisting he's not a racist.
Testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee Tuesday, Sessions diverged from his prepared remarks to address "head on" the very allegations that helped sink his nomination for a judgeship in 1986.
"I abhor the Klan and its hateful ideology," Sessions said. "I never declared the NAACP was un-American."
Sessions' comments came during the first of several blockbuster confirmation hearings that will play out on Capitol Hill over the coming weeks as senators consider President-elect Donald Trump's Cabinet picks.
Protesters dressed as members of the Ku Klux Klan chanted as Sessions began his introduction. They were escorted out by security.