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Dem 'absolutely' stands by claim Sessions wants blacks 'in the back of the bus again'

Rep. Luis Gutierrez stood by his comments that Attorney General Jeff Sessions wants "black people to be in the back of the bus again."

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Marc Rod (CNN)
(CNN) — Rep. Luis Gutierrez stood by his comments that Attorney General Jeff Sessions wants "black people to be in the back of the bus again."

"Sessions, he'd just love for black people to be in the back of the bus again. He'd love for women to be in the kitchen. He'd love for gay people to be in the closet again, and for me, not to have a microphone to be able to speak to anyone," the Illinois Democrat said earlier WEdnesday at the progressive We the People Summit.

Gutierrez defended his remarks later Wednesday on CNN's "Erin Burnett Out Front."

"I believe every last thing I said," he told Burnett.

He went on to elaborate on his criticism of Sessions.

"This is a man that when he came before the Senate to try to become a federal judge, Coretta Scott King came forward. There were all kinds of testimony about him calling black men boys," Gutierrez said. "This is a man who is trying to strip black people and diminish their voting rights."

He pointed to Sessions' voting record as a senator from Alabama as evidence of bias against women.

"When it comes to the Violence Against Women Act -- he voted against it. ... He's never stood up for women," Gutierrez said. "You can't support women against being murdered and raped and abused?"

Although 23 former assistant attorneys general penned a letter crediting Sessions with an important role in the prosecution of the head of the Alabama Ku Klux Klan -- which ended in a death sentence for the KKK leader -- Gutierrez said he believes that Sessions does not currently support black Americans.

"I look at the man today. The man today is trying to undermine voting rights -- voting rights in which black people in this country sacrificed their lives so we could have a Voting Rights Act, a Civil Rights Act," he said. "Sometimes people do one good thing, but that's not really their record or their history of who they are. Look at who Jeff Sessions is today."

The Justice Department declined to comment on Gutierrez's remarks.

Gutierrez also doubled down on his previous comments accusing President Donald Trump of racism.

"We now know that we have someone in the White House who could lead the Ku Klux Klan," he said on MSNBC in January.

"If this President is not racist, then I don't know who is," he told NPR in March.

Gutierrez told Burnett he does not believe that such remarks further divide the US.

"I am clarifying and amplifying the positions of the extremists, which I believe is very, very important, because when you don't do that, you allow for the creation of a fascist society," he said. "You need to speak out and denounce prejudice, racism, all forms of bigotry, and I will continue to do that in the Congress of the United States."

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