Rep. Luis Gutiérrez (D-Ill.) on Wednesday said 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," Gutiérrez said while delivering remarks at a We the People Summit, according to CNN.
The Democratic lawmaker stood by his remarks while appearing on CNN's "Erin Burnett Out Front” later on Wednesday, saying that he believes “every last thing” he said.
"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,"said Gutierrez, who is considering running for president in 2020. "This is a man who is trying to strip black people and diminish their voting rights.
Sessions has frequently come under fire over allegations of racist remarks. In 1986, while serving as a U.S. attorney from Alabama, he was denied a federal judgeship after testimonies heard during hearings from the Senate Judiciary Committee alleged he made racist remarks and referred to the NAACP and ACLU as "un-American."
He addressed those charges head-on in January 2017 while testifying before Congress after being nominated by President Trump to serve as attorney general.
“I do not harbor those kinds of animosities and race-based ideas I was accused of,” Sessions said under questioning from Sen. Dianne Feinstein(D-Calif.).
“I didn’t prepare well in 1986, and there was an effort to characterize me as something untrue,” he added later.
Gutiérrez's remarks on Wednesday came the same day several Democratic presidential hopefuls at the event sought to impress the left flank of their party.
"When it comes to the Violence Against Women Act -- he voted against it. ... He's never stood up for women. You can't support women against being murdered and raped and abused?” Gutierrez said on Wednesday.
"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," Gutierrez 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.
"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. 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."
Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) called
Sessions “a racist and a liar” in April 2017 after the attorney general said he was “amazed” that a federal judge “sitting on an island in the Pacific” could halt the president's travel ban people from Muslim-majority countries coming to the US.
"We've got cases moving in the very, very liberal 9th Circuit, who — they've been hostile to the order," Sessions said in comments that prompted a wave of backlash. He later dismissed criticism of his remarks, saying: "Nobody has a sense of humor anymore.”