In this photo taken Nov. 17, 2016, Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala. speaks to media at Trump Tower in New York. President-elect Donald Trump has picked Sessions for the job of attorney general. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
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Tennessee's senior senator Lamar Alexander visited the Chattanooga Times Free Press for a conversation with the newspaper's editorial board in this file photo.

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NASHVILLE — U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., on Friday announced his support of fellow U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., for the Attorney General after President-elect Donald Trump earlier announced he will nominate the one-time federal prosecutor for the nation's top law enforcement job.

"Jeff Sessions has been a friend and respected colleague for many years," Alexander said in a statement. "By his service as United States Attorney and as United States Senator, he has earned the opportunity to be Attorney General of the United States."

U.S. Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., also lauded Trump's selection of Sessions for attorney general, calling the Alabama senator "widely respected in the United States Senate" and "a great great choice."

"His years of expertise and respect for the rule of law will serve the country well as he assumes this important role in the Trump administration," Corker said in a statement.

A staunch conservative, Sessions was a fierce supporter and defender of billionaire businessman and former TV reality star Trump in his march to the White House. 

Sessions, first elected to the Senate in 1996, has opposed immigration reform and been critical of bipartisan efforts to reduce mandatory minimum prison sentences.

Earlier Friday, Trump's transition team sent out a statement, saying that "while nothing has been finalized and he is still talking with others as he forms his cabinet, the President-elect has been unbelievably impressed with Senator Sessions and his phenomenal record as Alabama's Attorney General and U.S. Attorney. It is no wonder the people of Alabama re-elected him without opposition."

In 1986, President Ronald Reagan nominated Sessions for a federal judgeship. But he was rejected by the GOP-controlled Senate Judiciary Committee after critics accused him of making racially charged statements.

This story was updated Nov. 18 at 5:55 p.m. with more information.