Trump may have just set up his attorney general pick for more Democratic attacks

Senator Jeff Sessions, attorney general pick for U.S. President-elect Donald Trump.
Andrew Harrer | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Donald Trump's baseless claim that he lost the popular vote because of "millions" of illegal ballots could give Democrats another reason to target his attorney general pick during his confirmation process.

Some Senate Democrats have already signaled their concerns with Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama serving as attorney general based on his hardline immigration views and decades-old racially inflammatory statements that surfaced during a judiciary confirmation process in the 1980s. The president-elect's unfounded accusations of rampant illegal voting could only put more heat on Sessions if Democrats decide to grill him on whether the administration plans to investigate Trump's claims or support tougher voting restrictions.

Sessions' Republican majority Senate colleagues will likely confirm him as attorney general, and a hearing could come before Trump is sworn in as president, according to Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley. After meeting with Sessions on Tuesday, the Iowa Republican said members of his committee "know Sessions to be an honorable man" who "cares deeply about the even-handed application of the law."

However, he hinted that he expected some Democratic attacks on Sessions' character.

"Democratic members of the committee have pledged a fair process. Based on those commitments, I trust the other side will resist what some liberal interest groups are clearly hoping for — an attack on his character," Grassley said in a statement.

Trump's comments this week certainly do not make it easier for Democrats to hold back on Sessions regarding voting rights issues. While Trump himself has not said much about voter ID laws, his baseless fraud accusations beg the question of whether his White House will put its weight behind Republican efforts to make stricter identification requirements.

Tweet: In addition to winning the Electoral College in a landslide, I won the popular vote if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally

Tweet: Serious voter fraud in Virginia, New Hampshire and California - so why isn't the media reporting on this? Serious bias - big problem!

Voter fraud is exceedingly rare but has prompted GOP-backed voter identification laws and pushes to limit early voting in some states. Some advocacy groups and Democrats argue that those laws disproportionately affect people of color.

Terwilliger: Jeff Sessions a wonderful selection

Sessions' complicated past on voting rights will likely come up during the confirmation process. When Sessions was blocked for a federal judgeship in 1986, his role in prosecuting a voter fraud case against civil rights activists factored in the decision.

Sessions' own role in that case is murky, but could still open him up to attacks in the coming weeks, according to aWashington Post analysis of the testimony.

Sessions has criticized parts of the Voting Rights Act for years, even though in 2006 he voted to renew the landmark law.