U.S. President-elect Donald Trump's pick for attorney general, Jeff Sessions, promised on Tuesday to stand up to Trump, his close ally and future boss, saying he would oppose a ban on Muslims entering the country and enforce a law against waterboarding even though he voted against the measure.
Sessions said he would not support banning anyone from the United States on the basis of religion and that Trump's intentions were to restrict people from countries harboring terrorists, not all Muslims. Elected on Nov. 8, Trump at one point campaigned on a proposal to temporarily ban Muslims from entering the country.
Sessions said he favored "higher intensity of vetting" for refugees seeking to enter the United States from countries that harbor terrorists but that he would oppose ending the U.S. refugee program.
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He also said he would enforce a 2015 law that outlawed waterboarding terrorism suspects even if it meant resisting Trump. The senator said he had voted against the law, believing those in high positions in the military and intelligence community should be able to do so.
During the campaign, Trump said waterboarding, which simulates drowning and is widely regarded as torture, was an effective technique and vowed to bring it back and make it "a hell of a lot worse." More recently Trump has said retired Marine Corps General James Mattis, his nominee for secretary of defense, had persuasively argued against it.
Sessions said he would enforce laws upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court, even those he disagreed with, such as decisions making abortion and same-sex marriage legal.